Compensation Cafe: Keeping Top Employees in an Era of Disappearing Raises

by Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe logoRecognize This! — Frequent, timely and appropriately calibrated awards can be a more effective means of rewarding employees fairly than mediocre merit increase budgets.

Without directly intending it, my last two posts on Compensation Cafe addressed how to keep and reward your top performers in a compensation world where raises seem to be disappearing.

In “Where Have All the Raises Gone?” I shared research from Aon Hewitt showing straight salary increases are near all-time lows while short-term rewards and bonus budgets (variable comp) are at an all-time high. I’m not surprised by this. “Merit increases” haven’t really exceeded cost of living adjustments in years. Instead, we should rethink how we define “performance-based rewards,” broadening this to include frequent, timely recognition and rewards for behaviors demonstrated, progress made, and lessons learned.

This built on the earlier post, “3 Tips to Keep Your Best Employees without Increasing Pay.” Drawing on insights from Sarah Kauss, CEO and founder of S’well, the post suggests fostering clear career paths, nurturing connections and relationships, and defining and encouraging deeper purpose are critical elements to creating a work environment great employees won’t want to leave. As Ms. Kauss says, “Find what’s going to inspire your employees to be their best selves, build a sense of loyalty, and ultimately a purpose in being a part of the team.”

Read both posts in full, then come back here and tell me, what is the best way to compensate, reward and recognize people of all skill levels and contribution histories? How do you keep your best employees? What was critical to you for staying in your role?

Derek Irvine

About Derek Irvine

The VP of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their organizations. As a renowned speaker and co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and "Winning with a Culture of Recognition," he teaches companies how to use recognition to proactively manage company culture. Derek holds a B.Comm and Masters of Business Studies from the Smurfit Graduate Business School at University College Dublin.

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