Rewarding employees

By Cheryl Meyer

Today's professionals desire much more than money to stay satisfied, engaged, and loyal to their employers. Experts offer the following tips for implementing rewards and perks at your workplace:

Feature flexibility. Grant Thornton LLP offers a flexible time-off policy, which allows employees to collaborate with their managers to take time off as needed and decide on an ideal work schedule. The firm also allows its people to "work when and where they feel they'll be most effective," including from home, said Erica O'Malley, CPA, national managing partner of employee benefit plans and people experience at Grant Thornton.

Know your people and what makes them tick. Do employees value flex time? Gym memberships? Job training? "We see too many organizations saying we need to offer vision, dental, pet health insurance—but have you bothered to ask the people what they value the most?" said Tom McMullen, reward practice leader at Hay Group, a division of Korn Ferry. Communicate with staff and conduct internal surveys to find out what staff members deem important.

Examine your professional and advancement offerings. Advancement is not just about moving upward, McMullen noted: "It is also about moving around in the organization." This is especially true with smaller firms, which need to be more creative and nimble in how they view development, he said.

Focus on career coaching and creativity. Give workers a mentoring system and access to top management. And, McMullen said, consider offering "a development or training opportunity in an area of focus" to an individual.

Put your mouth where your money is. Employees sometimes believe they are underpaid. But many companies don't do a good job communicating the total value of their rewards package. Tally up what you are offering each employee—including compensation, health benefits, short- and long-term incentives, and nonfinancial rewards—and provide this information to your staff in one-to-one or group meetings. Some organizations also use employee reward statements in their offer letters to job applicants. "If it could stop one person from leaving your organization, why in the world wouldn't you communicate that value?" McMullen said.

Periodically assess rewards. Once the rewards are identified and in play, monitor them to see whether they are effective. Use engagement surveys or exit interviews to gain valuable insight from staff members.

Editor's note: This checklist is adapted from "Money Isn't Everything: Nonfinancial Rewards That Retain the Best Workers," CPA Insider, June 20, 2016.

—By Cheryl Meyer (, a freelance writer based in California.

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