The Total Rewards Consulting Approach

Freelance Total Rewards takes a consistent four-phase approach to consulting projects for clients. Smaller requests can be done without a formal project, but even in these cases, we ask questions about context, to ensure even a simple solution will actually work.

Consulting Project Approach

Phase I–Understanding Your Needs

Until there is a clear understanding of your needs, no solutions can be determined. We listen and ask questions to unpack your needs, root causes, influences and business context. We will ask questions related to the business context and talent objectives. We will ask questions to understand the scope of the request, because you may wish to approach the work in phases, or isolate certain parts to be addressed internally, or at another time. I will ask about stakeholders, risk factors, linkage to other processes (such as performance management, for example), deliverables, timing and budget.

Phase II–Solution Design

Design involves defining the problem, the solution criteria, and a suggested solution framework. It is a high-level roadmap that starts with needs and ends with a solution, i.e. a list of deliverables and a process and project plan for creating and implementing them. But it is not the solution, only a plan, a blueprint. Having a blueprint allows the client to approve the development work, which is the most time consuming. Client decision-makers give directional approval at this point.

Phase III–Solution Development

The development process flows directly from the Solution Design and input from decision-makers. There should be no surprises during this stage due to Steps I and II. This is stage at which certain tasks can be completed by the consultant or in-house client staff under the guidance of the principal consultant and project team. This phase ends with client approval of the deliverables.

Phase IV–Implementation and Communication

This phase involves installation of the solution. It may include client manager or HR training, communication support, internal presentations or other forms of assistance. Depending on the client’s needs, this phase may be require more or less consulting assistance. Part of project closure is identification of next-priority needs, often areas such as manager training, investment in benchmarking data, development of performance management or any other areas adjacent to the project that could enhance or hinder project success and business outcomes.

All work is done from a total rewards perspective, adhering to the following principles.

Total Rewards Principles

  1. Total rewards includes anything–money, benefits, career opportunity, flexibility, etc.–that acts as a reason to join or remain with an organisation, or to perform as the organisation wishes. Rewards can be tangible or intangible. A person may join an organisation for the tangible rewards such as cash compensation, but may stay (or leave) due to intangible factors such as culture, leadership, development opportunity, etc.
  2. The function of rewards (compensation and benefits) is primarily to attract and retain talent. Motivation can be impacted by rewards practices as well, but is driven mainly by the work itself and good fit in selection of people for a given role.
  3. The right mix of rewards is the mix that best attracts and retains (or mobilises) your talent at sustainable cost. For the same overall cost, your rewards mix can be ineffective or highly effective. In fact, you can effectively attract and retain talent at lower cost if you look at the total rewards, including intangibles such as culture, leadership, fair policies, choice, flexibility, training opportunity, meaningful work and having a supportive boss.
  4. People who are passionate or engaged about their jobs do not need rewards to motivate them, but rewards do help retain such performers. For the rest, money clearly tied to communicated and supported behaviors or outcomes can help achieve those outcomes, and linking pay to performance can motivate lower performers to leave (if they in fact earn less) which may be good for your organization.
  5. Performance ratings are an outcome of a performance management, which is concerned mainly with performance. The rating itself must be backed up with specific feedback, but by itself is not feedback. By itself, it can be a useful factor in compensation calculations or decisions, provided it is fair and defensible, i.e. non-discriminatory except on the basis of.. performance! This is called pay for performance. Pay linked to unfair ratings will be seen as unfair pay. So do not link pay to performance ratings if you are not good at performance management. Be careful with linking salary increases to ratings, as you are using an evaluation of the past to determine a person’s pay well into the future.
  6. Tangible rewards are more important when attracting talent, as you cannot promise a person will be happy with their boss, company culture, recognition, promotional opportunity or other intangibles. Employees will reach their own conclusions concerning intangible rewards after several months with the company.
  7. A total rewards strategy flows from a reward philosophy, and supports business strategy, people strategy, talent objectives, cost optimization, tax optimization, alignment to employee needs, alignment to candidate needs, competitive positioning and brand alignment.

For a quick explanation of Total Rewards, watch this: ANC Interview–What is Total Rewards?

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