Bring Out the Scalpel Not the Hatchet

Let us not be hasty, panic stricken and anxious to cut salaries and retrench staff across the board using a non-discriminate hatchet approach as a knee-jerk reaction to deal with the economic storm.

Instead, let us review all expenditures to determine where we can reduce or eliminate unnecessary costs in a very systematic way where the fall out is acceptable and or manageable. We must guard against and be quite wary of cutting expenditures that may negatively impact the growth of the business.  An aggressive growth strategy maybe now replaced with a conservative growth expectation which may satisfy the now risk-averse appetite.

As HR professionals, we must demonstrate creativity and innovation in how we reward staff since any salary increases and or bonuses may be  minimal or even non-existent.

One idea is to explore non-cash rewards as a key component in an employee’s compensation package during this uncertain economy. We need to counter the modest “cash box” with innovative meaningful and customised non-cash rewards.

Non-cash rewards connect with employees in a way that cash cannot. They help shape and reinforce positive company culture and core values that may manifest itself in sustainable productivity, high talent retention rates, and minimal absenteeism with dedicated, committed and loyal team members.

Non-cash rewards can be designed to be agile and very flexible to reward any desirable behaviour or outcome. There rewards are mostly instantaneous and this instant gratification is quite attractive to many employees, especially those in the millennial generation.

Non-cash rewards should be aligned and integrated to the larger total rewards philosophy to drive short term behaviours at first followed by long term performance improvements.

An advantage of non-cash rewards is that it can be customised to the recipient and to the behaviour being rewarded. A personal hand written note from the Chief Executive Officer or recognition on the company’s website or a customised certificate developed from publishing software and printed internally. The ideas are endless. An employee once asked for plant seeds to help start a kitchen garden. The variety of non-cash rewards makes it a very powerful tool that really speaks to the recipient in a personal way that cannot be monetised.  The employee must have choice.

The expectations must be clear, the desired behaviours or outcomes must be clearly understood. Real time visibility into rewards attainment is critical. The employees must be able to track their own progress along the reward attainment continuum in a transparent manner that is fair and equitable.

It is expected that the administration, accuracy and efficiency of the non-cash reward system must be spot on. This impacts the credibility and brand of the programme. It is critical that there must be no mistakes. Roles and responsibilities must be clear among all stakeholders. It must not be seen or perceived by the recipients to be onerous or time consuming but rather a pleasant enriching experience.

We need to reap the rewards of all the engagement work we would have been doing in the past. This is a turbulent time and we want our talent to stay with us. All the work we would have done in the past will come now have an opportunity to be clearly manifest itself.

More than ever, we need to hold on to our core values, as this reinforces our culture and guides us in making tough decisions especially when we need to prioritise among all “equally” important things. Our culture is the tie that binds us in an extricable way that creates our behavioural bedrock on which we must rely to see us through this storm.

Denise Ali

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