Culture still important in reward

By Tony Hatton-Gore. Rewardhr Ltd. 

Standards of corporate behaviour have been in the news again, raising inevitable questions about the role of reward.  The recent CIPD Employee Outlook report Focus on rebuilding trust in the City highlighted the on-going lack of confidence in reward practices in financial services and Charles Cotton wrote about this last week. Major banks continue to hit the headlines over business practices and Sir Adrian Cadbury was interviewed on The Today programme comparing the standard of corporate ethics now and 20 years ago.

The media focus emphasises high levels of pay but I still believe in the total reward model (i.e. it is not just about the money). It is robust and applies in all sectors, to organisations with different value sets and in all stages of the economic cycle.

Key principles of good reward management apply whether the organisation in a bank or a not for profit – aligning people with the organisation’s objectives and values, engaging them by offering a comprehensive and attractive deal and recognising achievement. All these are about living the values.

I attended the CIPD Central London Branch event celebrating the CIPD centenary and was heartened to hear the speakers endorse the view that values are still important in HR. This was my interpretation of the content from a great panel of speakers who expressed this theme in different ways:

  • The drivers of engagement include opportunity and wellbeing, involvement, trust, pride in the brand (Tanith Dodge)
  • It is important to be true to the culture (Frank Douglas)
  • Integrity is the most important characteristic for an HR director (Bev White, Linda Kennedy)

This reinforced my confidence in the importance of reward reflecting organisational values. It seems that corporate values are where reward and ethics coincide and it is key to ensure that the linkage between them works.

My instinct is that the way to keep reward fresh and relevant is to regularly test the reward offering against the values and to act on the findings if they are not consistent. It should be straightforward to look at the core values and identify the practical implications for reward.

For example if we say we value customer focus do we incentivize and recognise delivery/quality/service and promote pride and affiliation in employees to ensure they are engaged and adding value? If we say we encourage excellence do we promote effective performance management and give managers the tools to understand how to manage high performers and make effective reward decisions?

This is about establishing the feedback loop to demonstrate that reward strategy continues to support the business and, crucially, expressing how we do this in reward communication for managers and employees.

Thank you for your comments. There may be a short delay in this going live on the blog page as we moderate the comments added to our blogs.