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Updated: Jul 10, 2018

• The multiple faces of employee rewards •

We run selection programs for growth-loving businesses, to gather the best high-performance team out there. Last week, we hit the end stage for a crucial function at one of our corporates with only two top candidates left. Both ran smiling through the same selection process, but came out surprisingly different.

That's where we advised our customer to create two new functions in his team to give these distinctive talents a place. Double the investment, but also double the opportunities they would bring. The CEO took it in for a few days, and said yes.

Yet another difference arose: while one candidate already nodded YES (oh yeah, including the enthusiastic noises) in taking the job WITHOUT even knowing the financial rewards, the other candidate rejected the salary proposition at first sight.

The CEO, who ofcourse was included in the process, threw up his hands in complete horror.

"We cannot lose this perfect candidate!"

While we were not planning to lose the candidate, we did not move the salary proposal. Not a dime. Why? Because the initial first move may never be because of money.

The financial proposal was neat, according to current salary standards. The candidate ranked high, and ofcourse you can invest in this as an employer. But is money the motivation? Then you'll never find the full intrinsic motivation in your team member from day one.

Employee rewards systems - it's all about the money

While we all have our basic needs to be fulfilled properly, intrinsic motivation goes deeper and stretches longer. Employee rewards are all about this.

Scientific research is divided and suggests a combination of both extrinsic and intrinsic rewards. Our experience in the field tends to lean to the following succesfull receipt of employee happiness:

Put on those speed goggles

First of all, there's a simple question: do you want to work with this individual? If the answer is (still) yes, prepare to think like him or her. Only when you see one's world, you can understand and respond properly to its needs.

Work - life balance

Not only in terms of meditation, there's a work-life balance. There's also a work-life balance in rewards. Make a cross comparison of two questions:

  1. What salary does one need to maintain current life standards?

  2. What salary does one regularly earn in this function and niche?

Now you have a decent salary to start with. When one is living like a King, and your regular salary scale is not up for it, ask yourself again: do I really want to work with this individual?

If so, you or the candidate has to move away from current reward expectations. No problem at all, as long as it is discussed upfront. By opening up this topic, the other party knows what (extra) investment you are willing to make. This tells how eager you hopefully both are to fully focus on a positive collaboration.

The rejecting candidate

It is exactly what we did with the second candidate - who turned down the first salary proposal. We explained completely honest the situation of investing in two customized functions instead of one because of the potential opportunities within the company for both candidates.

We also told about the other candidate (ofcourse, without details) who is very eager to start and already took the other unique function, completely adjusted to his personal quest and talents. While we wanted to invest in the other candidate too, this was the salary starting point we could honestly offer. If we would ever get to the requested salary level together? Well, that is all up to him, from day 1.

About five days later, we received an email, stating that he thoroughly thought about it and decided to jump into the adventure. For the salary we had proposed, in the unique function we molded for him.

Intrinsic motivation - gather in purpose

This brings us to the second motivation we have: intrinsic motivation. As humans we are instinctively very curious and eager to learn. As long as it fascinates us.

There was no school subject that could motivate us, without feeling any interest out there. This fascination bonds stronger than any monetary reward.

In molding the perfect functions for your employees, make sure you define the following insights about him or her:

  • What was your favorite subject at school? > all-time favorites are there by birth

  • How do you prefer to spend your days off? > one should live one life, no two roles

  • When were you eager to jump out off bed in the morning? > intrinsic movements

  • Is there anything you'd like to do (extra) within this company? > buy-in in development

  • What makes you smile during a work day? > create the perfect environment

  • Can you imagine the perfect work environment and explain how it looks like? > #goals

  • What is the legacy you want to leave behind? > big yellow life lines here

Employee recognition - another balance

Besides defining your team member's intrinsic motivation, you should also do something about it. Listen and learn. If you listen and throw it in the trash can, there's no way this team member will stay any longer than 2