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How to Structure a Kick-Ass Total Rewards Team

Employee compensation has made headlines in 2022. Beyond inflation concerns and the wage implications that follow them, talk of total rewards strategies is ramping up. Companies are increasingly leveraging total rewards to attract and retain top talent, and they’re leaning heavily on human resource teams to both understand employee demands and create appealing total rewards packages.

Effectively leveraging total rewards comes down to having an HR team that understands them — both the rewards themselves and the value employees place on them. The next step is incorporating these rewards effectively into hiring and retention to illustrate their value.

Put simply, companies need a kick-ass total rewards team.

Total rewards strategy starts with your team

A company’s total rewards strategy is inclusive of the salary and benefits package it offers to prospective hires. That means salary, insurance, retirement contributions, paid time off, continuing education, and any other employee incentives. Moreover, it revolves around how a company positions and leverages that package to attract and retain talent. These two components — the benefits themselves and their positioning — boil down to who’s at the helm. Often, it’s a team of HR experts, led by a total rewards specialist.

The goal of a total rewards team is twofold. First, they ensure that the benefits package a company offers not only is competitive and attractive in the current market, but also is aligned with the company’s goals. Second, they create a value proposition around these rewards that the company can use to attract and retain talent.

An optimal total rewards strategy is one that’s attractive and beneficial to both organizations and their employees. This can happen only when it’s orchestrated by a kick-ass total rewards team.

Meet the total rewards team

The lynchpin in any great total rewards team is the total rewards specialist. This individual isn’t just another member of the HR staff — they’re someone whose chief objective is to assemble and leverage the rewards strategy. They’re charged with researching market trends and expectations, aligning benefits with company culture, gathering feedback on benefits offered, understanding benefit-cost structures, and performing myriad other related duties.

Thankfully, the total rewards specialist will have the support of other HR personnel when it comes to executing a winning strategy. This includes hiring and recruiting managers who can position total rewards when onboarding new hires. It also includes HR generalists who support employees in understanding their benefits, as well as HR managers who help employees take advantage of key benefits.

As Search Solution Group CEO and Founder Jeremy Gnozzo emphasized, “Total rewards professionals are the superheroes of corporate America. They come in and work very hard to make improvements that affect the company’s culture, attitude, and dynamics. They are often working long hours behind the scenes — very similar to Superman and Wonder Woman.”

Ultimately, a kick-ass total rewards team will look different depending on the size of the organization and the scope of benefits offered. Fundamentally, the team must include a total rewards specialist to formulate the strategy and a cast of supporting rockstars who ensure it lives up to employee expectations.

Total rewards are an evolving concept

Emphasis on total rewards has dominated the hiring and recruitment landscape. It’s the duty of a total rewards team to ensure an organization’s benefits package and deployment strategy evolve with the needs and expectations of the industry. Building a total rewards team that looks ahead, to understand trends and preemptively tailor rewards as focus shifts, will stay ahead of the market with regard to meeting employee expectations.

What rewards are most valuable to employees today? What emerging trends will influence benefits tomorrow? What perks does your organization offer that set it apart from the competition? Where do your benefits lag in the market? These questions and dozens of others are crucial in establishing a total rewards strategy that prevails in its core goal: attracting and retaining happy, productive employees.

Assemble a kick-ass total rewards team

Total rewards have become a lynchpin for employee hiring and retention. Smart companies are putting their efforts behind programs that distinguish them from the competition, and this endeavor starts by hiring total rewards specialists who can establish a firm foundational strategy. Building a kick-ass total rewards team sets the stage for not only more effective program administration, but also a more satisfied workforce. It’s an investment that more than pays for itself.

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