We are Getting Better

In my recent reflection on 2016, the first good sign I listed was our ongoing development as a profession, referring to those of us in the global total rewards (comp & benefits or global mobility) profession. We are advancing in our credentials, our practices, and most of all, the way we think. Let me elaborate.

Better Credentials

Our credentials are improving. Currently, WorldatWork–the gold standard in rewards certification–lists 291 Singaporeans among the exclusive ranks of Global Rewards Professional (GRP) certification holders. Of these, 31 also hold the Certified Compensation Professional (CCP) designation, which means they are qualified to manage compensation in the United States, with highly complex laws and regulations surrounding non-discrimination, overtime pay, etc. Outside of Singapore, certification is gaining increased recognition with 235 certified rewards professionals in China, 195 in Hong Kong and many others in Indonesia, India and Malaysia (although the certification price tag is somewhat prohibitive in these and other locations.) Check the SNEF schedule for GRP and CCP courses for 2017.

Rewards professionals are attending my Comp 101 and Comp 102 classes in large numbers. Offered in partnership with SNEF (Singapore National Employers Federation), these courses cover the principles and practices (Comp 101) and essential hands-on skills (Comp 102) needed by todays C&B specialists. We’ve had about 100 participants since introducing these professional-level courses about a year ago.  We are excited to announce Comp 103–Annual Incentives will be introduced 20/21 April 2017 through SNEF.

I should mention corporate in-house training here as well. A large pharmaceutical company is investing in their regional rewards and HR business partners by engaging Freelance Total Rewards to deliver both certification and non-certification rewards training. Professional associations in Singapore and Indonesia have also engaged us for custom professional development programmes.

Another area of increased capability is flexible work arrangements, or FWA. Ministry of Manpower statistics now indicate more than half of Singapore employers offer FWAs to meet business needs for talent, with workers expecting and demanding more flexibility, and employers focusing more on outcomes than “face time” at the office. I will be teaching Implement Flexible Work Arrangements through SNEF 16/17 February. Come find out how Singapore employers are meeting business and staffing needs by taking a more flexible approach and managing it effectively. The course includes five real case studies and open discussion, to help you define an approach for your organisation. Here’s more information on the FWA Courses from FTR and SNEF. FWA course subsidy may be available…

Finally, with increased attention on the use, or non-use, of performance ratings, I’ve had full classrooms for Managing Performance Without Ratings, a course that looks closely at the companies that have decided to drop the use of ratings to understand why and examine their new practices, and to equip participants to approach this topic for their own companies intelligently, rather than simply follow the herd.

In some Asian countries, rewards professionals cannot afford existing global certification offerings. Therefore, I am forming an industry panel of senior Asian total rewards leaders, to help me develop and introduce a new certification in total rewards, to be introduced in July 2017. The Total Rewards Professional (TRP) certification will be offered at three levels: professional, managerial and strategic. It will include standard material, but will be contextualized for each country where it is offered. We will start in the Philippines. More to come on this!

Better Practices

We are getting better in our company practices, as well. Credentials have great value, but what’s the point of being certified or trained if you go back and change nothing? Sayang! Wasted! The good news is we are seeing a lot of rewards leaders driving change in their practices. My own clients are:

  • challenging the assumption that you need expensive, big firm job evaluation systems that no one can explain;
  • simplifying and realigning pay for performance practices, including both merit pay and incentives;
  • realigning senior management pay to support greater accountability for results;
  • giving line managers more flexibility and related training to enable better pay decisions and more effective communication of those decisions by the managers who must own them

It is very encouraging to see traditional practices and attitudes being questioned, challenged and left behind if better ways are available. The smart companies care less about “best practices” and prevalence and more about business and talent outcomes.

The smart companies care less about “best practices” and prevalence and more about business and talent outcomes.

Better Thinking

The most encouraging sign is seeing HR and rewards leaders thinking more critically, challenging assumptions and acting as catalysts in the senior management ranks for greater accountability, managerial competence and greater focus on value creation. Whether it takes the form of healthcare and wellness innovation, flexible work arrangements–use of smart office centres, flexi-time, work at home, part time work–or removal of performance ratings and manager training; we are seeing more companies taking bold and innovative steps to create greater value through people. Companies like ConnexionsAsia (CXA) are more than disruptive to traditional employer healthcare marketplace practices, creating greater value for money normally spent on traditional brokers and premiums. CIGNA turned to neuroscience to better understand how people actually think and form attitudes about performance management.

Greater value is expected from mobility leaders as well. Sean Collins, Managing Partner at Talent Mobility Search has noted that in order to stand out from the crowd, mobility professionals “need to equip themselves with new skill sets that will support the business and increased complexity in the role in the future. Being able to master the latest technologies, including data analytics and reporting tools, as well as developing broader business competencies such as business acumen, finance, negotiation and presentation skills will be key to adding value to the role.”

The rewards profession is moving forward, and after 30 years, I’m still excited to be a comp & ben guy.


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