As a CEO, I believe you should embrace this simple truth about leadership: You don’t walk alone. It is the leader’s responsibility to make sure those followers are prepared, equipped and motivated. Leaders must think like coaches—drafting players who fit the needs of the game today, while providing them with the training and development needed to evolve with the organization’s strategic vision for tomorrow.
Perhaps most importantly, talent must be engaged and rewarded at every step along the way—not just when the final goal is achieved. Ninety percent of employers surveyed use four or more alternative rewards, including career development, spot cash bonuses, health and welfare benefits, enhanced capital accumulation programs, gift/merchandise programs, community impact programs, additional paid time off and other perquisites programs. Additionally, 71% of employers indicated they will increase the use of alternative rewards over the next year.
More than eight of 10 of organizations surveyed said alternative rewards are key to being an employer of choice (89%), remaining competitive (87%), and engaging employees (81%). Furthermore, considering that a lack of career development opportunities is the number one reason employees leave organizations, it’s no surprise that 87% of respondents agreed that alternative rewards are an important tool in talent retention.
Making career development a centerpiece of alternative rewards prepares the future leaders of the organization. Looking longer-term, 73 percent of respondents agreed that the importance of alternative rewards for employees will increase over the next three to five years.
At the same time, it would be extremely naïve to completely dismiss monetary rewards. Forty-six percent of employers plan to increase the use of spot cash bonuses across both manager/professional and clerical/skilled trade employee levels. For executives, they are more likely than other employee groups to see expansion and enhancement of capital accumulation, retirement and deferred compensation programs in the next year.
Knowing how to inspire, engage, and reward people in meaningful ways is essential to the leadership journey—literally taking people from “here to there” through every economic climate and global terrain. Because leaders do not “walk alone,” rewarding people must be part of making an emotional connection with their followers. Seemingly simple, but highly important, gestures (such as an email or an encouraging comment) broadcast that the leader recognizes the contribution and value of individuals and teams.
To engage talent for the long term, leaders must provide the kind of rewards that recognize employees today while preparing them for tomorrow.