The year has begun with robust discussion about Malaysia’s rate of inflation and the effect on the cost of living, which is expected to increase significantly for many working Malaysians.
As business leaders anticipate a challenging year ahead, Human Resources Malaysia has put together a special training session, Compensation & Benefits, lead by C&B expert and trainer Sandrine Bardot.
This two-day training sessions will arm C&B and HR professionals with the knowledge and know-how they need to keep their organisation competitive during this challenging time, whilst maintaining a quality workforce, fair practices and keeping to budgets.
To find out more about the event, please go here.
We have a quick chat with Sandrine for a brief overview of her thoughts and advice, and what you can expect from this very special training session:
What are the key considerations while formulating a compensation & benefits plan, and what are the challenges?
One very important aspect of plan design is to never forget the cardinal rule: the simpler, the better. Every rule or caveat that you add to a plan makes it exponentially more complex to understand. You should aim to design a plan that a 10-year-old child could explain. Remember that a plan or compensation programme cannot cover all situations. Make sure you cover 80 to 90% of the cases and create a set of rules, policies or a committee to manage exceptions or one-off cases.
In light of price hikes and GST implementation in Malaysia, what are some of the non-monetary benefits that employers can give their staff?
I honestly believe the majority of employees will be expecting their employers to compensate in a financial manner. These reductions in the subsidisation of essential items hit consumers and therefore employees, directly in their wallet – and they will want their employers to help them through these more demanding times.
However, if you consider implementing non-monetary benefits, just be aware employees will probably not make a direct link in their mind with compensation for rising cost of living, so the psychological and motivational impact will probably not be ‘high enough’ to compensate the perceived loss of spending power.
If you go down the route of non-monetary benefits, I suggest asking your employees what they value most (give them a list). For example, you could consider increasing your training budget or guaranteeing a certain number of days of education per year, or guarantee work-life balance by offering the opportunity to work from home, which also helps employees reduce their costs as they don’t have to pay for transportation on these days. Or maybe you can offer other benefits such free food, childcare vouchers or extra days off.
Can you tell us about your experiences with C&B in the Middle East?
Before the global crisis, the GCC region, which includes Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain, was booming. Petrodollars were flooding the economy, fueling a massive growth in infrastructure developments, as well as construction – Dubai in particular was in the spotlight.
The GCC countries are very special as their local native populations, with the exception of Saudi Arabia, are small, and so they are heavily reliant on expatriates for their workforce needs. Candidates, especially in managerial or highly specialised roles, were fewer than the number of opportunities available. The whole system spiralled up, with higher housing as well as education costs. So salaries and allowances had to follow. Massive salary increases were not uncommon. Then the bubble burst, real estate costs went down by as much as 50%, layoffs took place, salaries went down again for new hires, but most allowances remained unchanged for existing employees.
How are these experiences applicable to Malaysia’s situation?
The main difference I see in Malaysia is there is little chance the subsidies on electricity, gas and other items would be reinstated, as the government is under pressure to improve the state finances. So the increase in cost of living is most probably going to be permanent. If companies want to keep employees satisfied, they won’t be able to ignore these facts for very long. Losing employees and having to replace them costs a lot of money, not mentioning the lost productivity of employees who are not engaged any longer.
So, what would you recommend?
I’d recommend implementing cost of living allowances or salary raises, to cover at least a significant portion of the increased costs for employees. But don’t forget to keep a portion of your budget to reward your top performers with meaningful individual, merit-based increases and bonuses. The identification of your true best employees (by performance or in critical roles) is going to play a massive role in keeping these most important members of staff productive.
How has C&B changed over the years?
C&B grows in waves. When an organisation starts to really look into these topics, the most immediate concerns are around direct pay – how do we compare to our competitors? Then, attention shifts towards incentives and pay-for-performance – are we spending our salary dollars in the right way to get the most return through rewarding the employees that have the most positive impact on the bottom line?
The more refined wave is on issues of retention of key talent and alignment of executives to the long-term goals of the organisation, as well as cost control of insured benefits (health insurance, life, pension) and the introduction of customisation to cater to the needs of multiple generations working together. This process usually takes place at the company level, as well as in the marketplace as a whole.
What do these changes mean for HR leaders?
The divisions that existed between the different areas of HR are starting to fade. With the focus on the concept of employee value proposition, which is a holistic approach to addressing employee expectations and targeting high engagement, total rewards professionals now work even more closely with their colleagues from talent management and learning and development. This means that performance and reward professionals must focus on their communication, teamwork and project management skills. Without these, as well as their technical expertise, they will not be able to sustain their career progression to the executive level. C&B is no longer the role of a lonely geek spitting out spreadsheet after spreadsheet.
What are some topics you will touch on at the training session?
Over a two-day period, we will touch on all the building blocks of compensation. We will start from job descriptions and evaluations, to building salary structures, to performing salary reviews, to performance management and incentives, to engagement and retention. We will finish by going through some advice on designing and implementing compensation programmes.
Along the way, I will share experiences and real-life situations I have encountered in my 20-year career. It will also be a great opportunity to ask questions and exchange with people from other companies and industries.
There is increasing demand for HR professionals with valuable C&B experience, how do you specialise in this field?
Nowadays, if you want to specialise in C&B, I would recommend the combination of 2 things:
Start doing it! Transfer to the rewards team within your organisation and start learning on the job. If that is not possible, then volunteer for C&B projects and see where this takes you. Also, formalise your theoretical learning. Attend training like the one I will deliver in February. Read books and blogs, watch webinars, network with other people interested in the topic.
More information on the Compensation & Benefits training:
Date: April 29 & 30
Venue: Renaissance Hotel Kuala Lumpur
For additional info or help registering for this event, please contact Manuel Almira on email@example.com or call us at +65 6423 0329