Skip to content

Redefining Employee Rewards: Actions for Success

In a prior article we laid out the challenges of redefining employee rewards for a changing workforce in a changed world. Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and begin to take action to retool your rewards program to meet those challenges. In this article we will provide you with a framework and a Rewards Maturity Model assessment tool to get you on the right track.

Assess & define your rewards experience

Your rewards program is not only the biggest single lever you have to drive performance, it is a big factor in determining your employer brand. As such it is key to attracting, motivating, and retaining the talent your organization needs to be successful.

When assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your current strategy, or if you’re starting from scratch, consider some key questions::

  • What do I want employees (and prospective employees) to say about the rewards within my organization?
  • What kind of incentives will drive high performance in particular areas?
  • How can I more intelligently use total rewards as an effective retention and motivation strategy?
  • How can I create an incentive program that aligns with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) incentives?
  • How can our rewards program support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts?
  • Where do I need my team to focus their efforts?

Assess & define your Sales needs

Sales is always a special case when it comes to rewards, especially in times of uncertainty. Besides often being transaction driven, sales incentives are intricately interwoven with managing of quotas and territories. Before re-evaluating sales plans, give some thought to factors like:

  • Are sales reps faced with new challenges, impacting pipeline and conversions?
  • Are there any new indicators I could use to project sales and measure performance?
  • Are my salespeople perceiving their treatment as fair?
  • How can I confidently make quota-adjusting decisions?
  • Do I have access to comprehensive, real-time analytics and simulation data? 
  • Do our prior sales forecasting methods still work? Do our clients behave predictably?

Insightful analytics, robust data management, accurate simulations and forecasting, and the ability to change plans (and territories and quotas) on the fly become more important than ever when designing sales incentive plans. You will need these capabilities in order to both plan and manage rewards for sales.

Steps to defining your holistic rewards experience

Once you have answered those questions and have a sense of where you want to go, there are four steps that you can take to redefine your total rewards experience:

  1. Create an assessment framework. The first step is to assess the maturity level and effectiveness of your current rewards strategy.  Use our free online Rewards Maturity Assessment tool to determine where your rewards maturity level falls, from Below Standard to Mature.
  2. Identify what success looks like. What would be the optimal levels of performance required to meet company objectives? What metrics will you use to track attainment of goals?
  3. Align rewards with your priorities.  Based on your objectives and desired performance outcomes, design sales incentives and total rewards packages to deliver on those objectives. Hint: a compensation platform that lets you model different plans and simulate results based on different performance scenarios will help a lot!
  4. Put it all into action. Ok, that’s not a simple step. But again, the right compensation management platform can enable you to put strategy into action, if it is flexible enough to implement the rewards programs you need without compromise. See the tips below.

3 tips for moving forward post-pandemic

1. Align rewards with productivity and talent gaps

When designing rewards, look for ways to have an impact in the areas where you have gaps in productivity and/or talent that need to be addressed.

Key concepts:

  • Incentivize work in a smart way to incentivize the right behaviors.
  • Aim for resilience and sustainability.
  • Scenario planning can help! 
  • Consider key skills instead of key jobs.

Questions to consider:

  • Which behaviors do you want to motivate? Does your compensation plan reward the right behavior?
  • Are there talent gaps to fill? How can you nurture key talent?
  • Are your sales incentives aligned with the changing market?

2. Support your employees’ evolving needs

With changing workforce demographics and the after effects of COVID-19, employees’ needs are more dynamic than ever, and vary from region to region or country to country. Here’s how you can help:

  • Conduct an audit of workforce needs.
  • Identify issues and/or key demographics.
  • Tailor rewards to meet differing needs of different locations and employees.
  • Monitor the results and seek feedback. 

Remember: It’s not a one-and-done process.

3. Navigate your total rewards choices

The right technology is essential in helping to plan, implement, and manage a flexible total rewards program. Compensation strategy is too important to accept compromises in how it is designed and administered. Feeling overwhelmed? Start here:

An easy first step: use our free online Rewards Maturity Assessment tool to determine where your rewards maturity level falls, from Below Standard to Mature.


Rewards Maturity Assessment


Blog feed

Using pay equity strategically

Are You Using Pay Equity Strategically?

Bring Out Greatness in the Year End Review

The 3 Pillars of a High-Performance Culture

5 Ways to Get ROI by Streamlining Compensation & Performance Processes

A Nobel Prize and a Path to Pay Equity