I’d like the pie heated and I don’t want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side, and I’d like strawberry instead of vanilla, if you have it; if not, then no ice cream, just whipped cream, but only if it’s real; if it’s out of the can then nothing.”
~ Sally Albright, When Harry Met Sally
If consumers can customize everything from their food and beverage orders to their kitchens and closets, why can’t employees customize their needs at work? Typically, if an employee wants a different “deal” at work — perhaps more time with their families and less responsibility and compensation — they have two options: try to negotiate a special arrangement or look for a different employer.
Or do they? Smart managers are waking up to the fact that when it comes to compensating employees, cookie-cutter pay packages are no longer the norm. But the majority of executives and managers resist the idea of customized rewards packages because it’s easier to treat all employees the same. Making “special deals” requires time, positive intention, creative thinking and discussions that many managers and HR practitioners have little experience or comfort with. But that’s exactly what is needed in order to effectively attract, motivate and retain the talent needed for business success, according to a new WorldatWork research report, “Beyond Compensation: How Employees Prioritize Total Rewards at Various Life Stages.” Nearly 700 workers participated in the survey conducted by Next Generation Consulting (NGC) and Dieringer Research through a research grant from WorldatWork.
The survey found that employees value different things at different stages of life. These rewards go beyond their pay check and include benefits, work-life, career development and recognition. The research concludes that:
Work-life balance is significantly more important for women with young children.
Benefits are significantly more important for breadwinners, particularly female breadwinners who are further along in their careers.
Professional development (ex: training) is significantly more important for young employees (under 40) who are not yet supervisors.
Older employees value benefits more; younger employees value work-life balance and career development more.
Men favor money over work-life balance (though recent studies show men experience almost as much work-life conflict as women do).
What does this mean for talent managers? Given the increasing diversity of today’s work force, a one-size-fits-all approach to managing employees no longer works. Smart managers invest the time and energy to understand and create a “new deal” consisting of both cash and non-cash rewards if they want to attract and retain the best and the brightest.