Compensation without money…

September 22, 2015 Geoffroy De Lestrange


The economic situation in Europe varies a lot from one country to another, and even in countries with higher growth rates such as the UK or Germany, companies still suffer from the aftermath of the 2008 crisis. We arrive at a situations where – even when there is a high unemployment rate – many positions remain unfilled and generate a so-called “war for talent”, as we can see in France or Italy for example, while German companies complain about very deep “Fachkräftemangel” (lack of workforce).

Companies must find creative ways not only to motivate talents to apply and stay, but also to find new source of potential candidates. This very often implies coming out of the comfort zone and developing new ideas to compensate and recognise employees’ worth and value add to the business. This is all the more difficult that, according to a 2014 study by Towers Watson, base pay was still the most important criteria when accepting a new job from an employee point of view.

If the base salary is at least fair, companies can be transparent with their employees when talking about compensation and requests for raise. If there is no budget, it is still possible to convey this information to the employees under the conditions that:

  • The situation is temporary, and employees are informed about this
  • There are other ways to reward the good work and efficiency of the best members of the team

We can use the matrix developed by Prof. Gabriele Gabrielli about tangible and intangible benefits. Some elements of reward have a monetary impact, albeit not directly linked to a salary or a bonus: insurance, free food, … In times of scarce budget, those levers might not be the ones to pull when thinking about creative ways to compensate employees.

There are two areas in which it is possible to increase employee satisfaction with limited budget: Learning & development, and work environment.

Employee development is, along with performance reviews and compensation negotiation, one of the 3 discussion topics that an employee has to have on a regular basis with his/her employer. Indeed, almost a quarter of employees quit because of a lack of learning opportunities, whether it be structured training, or on the job learning. Therefore, working on a development plan with training, coaching, and including long-term opportunities for internal mobility can be a strong tool to show gratitude and foster engagement. In addition, you can also acknowledge the expertise of your best workers in creating an expert community in your enterprise social network, where they can produce their own content and share it for learning purposes within your organisation.

The other angle to increase employee satisfaction is the work environment, and work/life balance. We know the border between the two has blurred because of technology, but it also brings numerous tools to increase flexibility, or “smart working”. A classical example is the ability to work from home on a regular basis. When you have to care for a sick child, you’re glad not to have to take a day off to take him to the doctor! Of course, this wouldn’t apply to all industries, but there are interesting cases even in areas where flexibility is limited. In retail for example, it is well known that there are various activity peaks during the day. The company can either decide to ask their cashiers to come a few hours in the morning, around lunchtime and in the evening, with long periods without work in the middle, or alternatively try to respect the fact that most cannot afford to get home because of a 3 hours break in their day and plan the schedule accordingly. There are some well-known retail chains in both cases, and it is easy to know which ones enjoy the best employer branding reputation…

Have you any other ideas about non-financial compensation you’d like to share?

About the Author

Geoffroy De Lestrange

Product Marketing & Communication Director EMEA at Cornerstone OnDemand

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