Workforce rewards: yesterday, today, and tomorrow

July 09, 2018

From the rapid spread of globalization to unprecedented advancements in artificial intelligence and other technologies, there's no denying that the future of work is changing. At the same time, the looming retirement of baby boomers mixed with the increasingly diverse generational makeup of today's professionals is also redefining today's and tomorrow's workforce.

In order to remain relevant and compete in today’s talent demand economy, you must remain proactive to strategically address these changes and keep up with the ever-shifting trends in compensation, perks, and benefits. Here, you’ll find exclusive insights from globe-spanning research into how various companies are optimizing their offerings to create a brand-building strategy that will keep up with the times and help them attract, keep, and motivate top talent. Discover helpful overviews of top trends as well as some of the steps that you can take to address them.

Keeping Employees Engaged: A Constant Challenge

Many countries are already at (or are quickly approaching) a 10-year low in their unemployment rate. This record low has led to tightened labor markets throughout the world. Research also suggests that many of today's employees might not be able to meet future workforce demands because of tech disruption, meaning they won't have the skills needed to manage increasingly complex technologies.

Collectively, these factors have gradually increased competition for talent, and that competition is set to become even more pronounced in the upcoming years. In response, employers must address these new and changing employment trends by adjusting their workforce rewards packages. In fact, Mercer's Thriving in an Age of Disruption research1 found the following to be the top global themes to help employees thrive at work:

  • Exciting career and development opportunities
  • More learning opportunities
  • Fair assessments of work performance
  • Flatter structures
  • Equity in pay and rewards
  • More enablers for workplace efficiency
  • A positive working environment
  • Analytics-driven actions
  • Increased employee involvement
  • Connected and purposeful leaders

But just because these 10 factors were identified as the most critical by the 800 survey participants, that doesn't mean every organization has been able to address them - at least, not yet. In fact, when participants were asked about how committed their organization is to addressing these themes:

  • 52% of respondents said, "My organization is committed to creating an environment where employees are able to thrive."
  • 48% of respondents said, "My organization is not yet committed to creating an environment where employees are able to thrive."

To help minimize the risk of turnover and continue attracting the best available talent, employers and workforce rewards experts must focus their energy on updating their employee rewards strategies, which means bringing them out of the past and into the present, while also being poised for the future. That's no small task - so where should you begin?

Modern Workforce Rewards = Compensation, Plus So Much More

Today's employees are looking for more than just monetary reimbursement. While recent research showed that compensation is still the foundation for positively impacting employees, the Global Talent Trends survey2 report revealed that:

  • Job security is the top reason people stay at their company.
  • 65% of employees want a clearly defined job description.
  • 82% of employees say they would consider working on a freelance basis and 54% said managing work/life balance is one of the top 5 things their company can to do help them be successful.

As you can see, the times are certainly changing, and so are employee concerns and demands. For some additional insights, check out this chart illustrating how different elements of the workforce rewards policies have already shifted (plus how they may shift even more tomorrow).

  Yesterday Today Tomorrow INSIGHT
  • Internally Focused
  • Guaranteed Increases
  • Market Driven
  • Pay for Performance
  • Differentiation
  • Greater Transparency
  • Personalization
  • Designed for Outcomes
The 2018/2019 US Compensation Planning survey found that the vast majority of participating organizations (88%) tie salary increases to individual performance. With nearly half (48%) differentiating performance by using a five-level rating system.
  • Static
  • Guaranteed/Low Cost
  • Company Responsibility
  • Higher Cost
  • Employee Responsibility
  • Value-Based Care Focus
  • Expanded Offerings With Personalization
The latest US Spotlight on Benefits Report results showed that rising costs are being shared between both employer and employees, deductibles are being increased for medical group plans, and employer contributions to HSA accounts are being implemented in an effort to keep healthcare affordable.
  • Staid and Predictable Career Options
  • Stable, Fixed Work Schedules
  • Employee-Driven Career Paths
  • Flexible Work Arrangements
  • Employer-Curated Careers
  • Rise of Contractors/Free Agents
The US Compensation Policies & Practices Survey found that 65% of organizations have already introduced a flexible start/leave policy of some sort, while 25% of organizations are considering one.

Preparing Your Workforce Rewards of Tomorrow, Today

Developing a truly compelling employee experience has never been an easy task, no matter what industry you find yourself in. Still, it will always be an essential component of keeping employees engaged and fulfilled by their work and career. So, whether you're an HR professional or an employer, you already know that your workforce rewards offerings help separate you from your competitors. To that end, you must always keep your finger on the pulse of what the modern workforce not only expects ... but what they demand.

1 Mercer, Thriving in an Age of Disruption. 2018.
2 Mercer, Global Talent Trends. 2019.