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Five strategic compensation and benefits trends that will drive business success in 2016

The competition for talent won't go away, so optimising workforce programmes that attract, retain and engage talent will also be critical.

Sambhav Rakyan        Last Updated: December 23, 2015  | 13:47 IST

Sambhav Rakyan
This year - once again - compensation and benefits professionals will need to focus on smart ways to stretch their limited payroll budgets. The competition for talent won't go away, so optimising workforce programmes that attract, retain and engage talent will also be critical. To stay ahead of the game, organisations need to be keyed into these five trends as they navigate through 2016.

Segmentation and Differentiation Managing and rewarding critical talent will be top priority to prevent talent outflow. Employee segmentation and pay differentiation will play key roles in those efforts. With limited salary budgets, organisations will no longer be able to dole out the one-size-fits-all increases. Instead, they'll need to invest money where they'll get the most return - on high performers who have the skills and competencies the organisation can't afford to lose. That means having the courage to truly differentiate when it comes to salary increases and bonuses - and to create customised rewards packages that incentivise these employees to stay for the long-term.

Flexibility Employees will continue to look for more flexibility in the workplace - from telecommuting to working unconventional hours - and they'll seek employers that have policies to accommodate them. As this trend becomes more common, companies should consider implementing a flexible workforce policy, if they haven't done so already, to attract new talent and bolster engagement levels in their current workforce.

Further out on the horizon: a movement towards more flexible pay. Some employers are considering offering flexible plans that allow employees to choose how their pay will be structured (e.g., more base, less bonus, or vice versa). Employers are also using conjoint analysis to understand which parts of compensation packages employees' value most and adjusting pay plans based on their preferences.

Health and Wellness Offering health and wellness programmes that support a healthy workforce continues to be a trend for many organisations. These programmes create differentiated employee value propositions and can be a key differentiator for employers looking to demonstrate their commitment to promoting and supporting health and wellness in the workplace. But companies need to better evaluate the effectiveness, sustainability and success of these programmes. For example, if the goal is to provide tools that promote healthy habits such as making good food choices, getting regular exercise and managing stress, the first step should be to ensure that employees are motivated and inspired to participate in these programmes. If they're not, what needs to be modified to encourage participation to get the best return on investment? This could mean retooling the marketing efforts of these programmes or making changes to aspects of the programmes that need improvement.

Communication Companies will need to continue to push for a culture that promotes openness and transparency when it when it comes to explaining pay and benefit philosophies to employees. Managers can play a key role in communicating these philosophies, but HR needs to ensure management teams have a firm grasp on the organisation's compensation and benefits programmes and understand the "why" behind them, along with how to communicate to employees before pay and benefits discussions take place.

Analytics and Decision-Making More than ever, data is king, and key stakeholders will look to HR to provide data-driven insights to identify and address workforce issues and provide solutions to help solve them.

The author is Data Services Practice Leader-Asia Pacific, Towers Watson

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