Careers: "Total Rewards" Packages Key to Employee Happiness, Motivation

IT organizations are hip to the fact that they’ve got to have the right people with the right skills at the right time to keep things humming along

It’s a far cry from the talent wars of the late 1990s, but it’s clear that talent once again matters—big time—as firms vie to recruit and retain top IT talent. That’s the conclusion of new research from Gartner Inc., which says IT organizations are increasingly hip to the fact that they must have the right people with the right skills at the right time to address business needs and drive new projects.

The upshot, Gartner counsels, is that organizations need to create effective reward programs to help keep employees happy and motivated. Or—as jazz drumming legend Buddy Rich might have put it—you’ve got to keep the customer satisfied. "Although monetary rewards are very important, they are no longer the only important reward factor when it comes to developing a compelling employer value proposition," said Lily Mok, research director for Gartner EXP’s human capital management content development group, in a statement.

As a result, Mok counsels, organizations should explore "total rewards" packages that include a lot more than just monetary bonuses: "Non-monetary rewards, such as career development, recognition, and work/life balance, are … effective in helping to create a more personally rewarding total work experience and contributing to a more engaged and satisfied IT workforce."

Gartner calls non-monetary incentives of this kind "work experience" rewards, which it says can encompass many different perks, including cultural and work-environment benefits; the simple acknowledgement of an employee’s efforts and performance; and enhanced accommodation of his or her life/work balance needs.

Gartner researchers indicate that at least three factors can help spur the acceptance of any "total rewards" program: identifying and addressing the cultural changes required to support such an initiative; understanding that managers are key to the success of such an initiative; and involving employees greatly increases the chances for success.

"Regardless of the difficulty, a thoughtful and rigorous approach to measuring and optimizing return-on-investment in work experience reward programs can help an organization effectively allocate reward dollars as elements of the total rewards model that are proven to be drivers of performance, employee satisfaction and retention," Mok said. "

This, in turn, can help better enable an organization to attract, retain, and engage desired talent to create value for the company, its customers, and shareholders."

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.