Have you been successful at engaging and retaining your key talent using non-cash rewards?
At Benefits Asia Interactive 2014, Asia’s most strategic annual compensation & benefits (C&B) conference, our panellists presented a range of ideas on making this work, including mobility programmes, further education and work-life balance.
On the panel were Neha Pareek, talent leader, APAC, Greater China & Africa, IBM; John Lackey, director, global mobility, Jabil; Kathy Goh, director, global HR shared services, DFS Group; and, Joon Tan, VP, talent management GSC, Schneider Electric.
Show me the money!
The relevance of cash versus non-cash rewards kicked off this discussion, moderated by Human Resources‘ editor, Rebecca Lewis.
“Cash will always be a motivator, particularly over the past few years given the strong inflation. At Schneider, we go for the 3Es – education, experience, and exposure,” said Tan.
Lackey reminded us of the iconic “show me the money!” line from Jerry Maguire, reflecting on the importance of cash in rewarding and developing employees in mobility programmes.
Pareek’s perspective from the technology industry is the need to constantly upskill. “Letting employees know that we are invested in keeping them relevant is more important,” she said.
She gave the example of IBM’s mobility program, that allows high performers to move anywhere across the company’s 170 locations, the results of which are measured through critical mission targets.
Goh said non-cash rewards can be difficult to balance, but much of the time it’s about how you communicate recognition and making employees feel valued for their contribution.
“Non-cash rewards are not just about giving employees a pat on the shoulder. It is about respect for the individual’s contribution. If someone has done a good job, then say so,” she said.
Employees on the move
However, the context of mobility in a multi-generational workforce can vary. Lackey clarified, “We are starting to see generational differences impact mobility more so than in the past. We have had queries from individuals who want to take care of their ageing parents, for instance.”
Tan added that the younger generation is very global and open to learning. Being exposed to cultural dynamics is a big attraction for them, however, the company needs to question if the rotational opportunities are enabling it to build a talent pipeline.
“You have to weigh the cost versus how critical that individual’s development is. If it is a high-potential, then you just have to invest,” agreed Goh.
Going back to school
Opportunities for further education is another big component of non-cash rewards, but is it possible to track ROI for these?
Pareek shared a personal example where IBM invested in her course from Harvard University. “Investment in employees, be it internally through the academy, or handpicking employees to fast-track their career, is a great way to track ROI, instead of having to hire from outside.”
However, Tan admitted this can be challenging, saying that the company’s technology and HR systems need to be equipped to enable it.
This raised a question from the audience – in many cases, Gen Y express a reluctance to get into a contractual bond post completion of their course. Goh was quite clear in her response: “If the company is willing to invest, there has to be an ROI.”
Tan agreed: “It depends on your talent development philosophy. You are running a business, not running a charity. You have to be cognizant of the times you are in, given the generational differences.”
Can work and life coexist?
The final point of the discussion was the industry spotlight on work-life balance and flexibility.
“In the IT industry, the focus is more on flexibility – when you work, and where you work from. But having flexibility, being able to access all this technology, seemed to create an expectation of always-on, from the employees’ standpoint,” said Lackey in reference to experience from previous organisation’s he has worked in.
“Flexibility does not necessarily mean a better work-life balance. Management has to set an example of what they want to encourage.”
Goh added, “Work-life balance is very challenging, depending on which industry you are in. The West is really good at it. In Asia, it is a challenge – it has to do with a mindset change.”
As Rebecca Lewis summed it up: “It comes down to the industry and the culture you bring in to the workplace.”