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Redefining Employee Rewards: The 3 Top Challenges

Companies spend a lot of money on rewarding and incentivizing their employees, but not all of them are doing this in the most effective way. Considering the paradigm shift that the world has undergone this past year, leaders need to be more aware of their employees’ needs to know how best to support them.

Employee rewards are being redefined in the post-pandemic era, partly as a reaction to sudden changes in circumstances and and partly as an acceleration of existing workplace trends. The pandemic affected everyone, but responses to it have differed. What have been the drivers of change, and what challenges do they present for those responsible for defining employee rewards?

Employees want more transparency and fairness

Two clear trends that were developing even before the pandemic were the needs for pay transparency and pay equity. We’re more connected today than ever before, with more information about rewards available through sources like Glassdoor,, PayScale, and so on, so employees know what other companies are providing. At the same time, social trends continue to push for equal pay for equal work.

That transparency in the marketplace leads employees to expect more openness and fairness from their employers, yet research shows that pay transparency and equity suffered setbacks during the pandemic.

And, the concept of employee rewards is becoming more holistic than ever. The idea of “being competitive” means more than just paying employees more than the competition. The many reports about “best places to work” keep the talent market informed about what top companies are offering.

As such, employees expect to be provided with a clear and holistic view of their total rewards, and to understand exactly how their variable rewards were calculated. Employers likewise would do well to benchmark their rewards to the market and to communicate clearly to employees about the benefits they are receiving.

Employees and Sales Operations want more support

Demographic trends already were favoring flexible rewards schemes that support employees in their daily lives, but “life happens” has taken on a new meaning this past year, amplifying the need for flexibility in job structures and incentives.

While employer demands on employees have grown, often little to no support has been provided. During the pandemic, parents and single working mothers have been affected disproportionately, causing some to leave the workforce—highlighting the gender pay gap and exacerbating talent shortages.

Many sales organizations in particular were not prepared to work remotely, and the lack of face-to-face client contact, along with softened market conditions, impacted sales results. To deal with the new reality, Sales Operations teams were faced with challenges similar to those faced by HR: How do we measure productivity of a remote employee? Do we have appropriate policies and tools to ensure seamless remote working? What do we need to do to attract and retain top talent in these conditions?

Navigating the new normal with a holistic approach to rewards 

If they already haven’t, companies will need to change their reward strategies in order to accommodate shifting market conditions, business priorities, and employee behavior.

Is hybrid work here to stay?

Historically, remote working has been met with resistance in many quarters, but 2020 forced us to be flexible. Now it appears that flexible work and the hybrid office are here to stay. Why won’t they go away after the pandemic is quelled? While companies may keep the office doors open, the trend already was moving towards flexible work arrangements. The new generation of workers has come to expect it, and the enabling technologies are in place in a way that was not true ten years ago, including ways to work remotely, to stay connected with employees and customers, to give employees access to their own information, and to measure employee productivity.

Addressing the overall changing nature of work 

Companies are also re-evaluating their job roles and structures, asking questions like: What makes a role/skill set important? How does it contribute to the company’s survival? Can our sales approach adapt to working remotely? 

A self-assessment can lay the foundation for designing a rewards program that will meet your changing needs. See our next blog post for a useful interactive tool that will help you to assess your Rewards Program Maturity, and a description of how to use it to move forward with a rewards strategy for the future of your organization.

Don’t want to wait? Contact a compensation expert at beqom to start the journey of redefining and implementing employee rewards that will deliver results for your organization, now and in the future.


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