Workplace compensation and benefits must evolve with the changing workforce

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), how best to set effective compensation and benefit plans is among the most frequent requests for information they receive from business owners, managers and executives across the United States. This comes as no surprise, as salary has always been key in the recruitment of top talent, employee retention and maintaining a motivated and productive staff.

Additionally, SHRM reports that there is another, more recent, reason for the high number of inquiries they receive about best practices for setting employee compensation plans. It turns out that many companies and organizations are struggling to keep pace with the quickly changing trends in what employees are looking for when it comes to compensation. As a new generation increasingly enters the workforce, priorities are shifting and compensation plans must evolve, as well. Base salary, while still important, is no longer the only factor employee’s look at when deciding whether to accept a job.

So, what are employees looking for? SHRM identified several key compensation and benefit trends employers should be aware of, now and in coming years, as they work to adapt to a younger, more diverse workforce.

Employees want customization and flexibility. According to a recent study by Forbes, 46% of individuals looking for a job report that the ability to work flexible hours will be a major factor in their decision. Companies that are willing to allow employees to customize their schedules with options such as flexible hours, job sharing, and working from home are at a big advantage when it comes to recruitment.

Health benefits are more important than ever. As the cost of healthcare continues to rise, health benefits offered in the workplace have also grown in importance for employees. Employers that choose to shift the costs of these benefits onto their workforce run the risk of losing talent to competing organizations that offer better benefit packages.

Market value matters. Gone are the days when employers could set “standard starting salaries” across the board. With talent increasingly likely to move between companies more quickly than in the past, employers must place a higher focus on employee retention. Rewarding individuals correctly in proportion to the actual market value of their role is key!

Variable rewards are no longer optional. Increasingly, talent is looking to land roles at organizations that offer variable rewards, such as bonuses, profit-sharing, and gainsharing, on a regular basis.

Quality of life is important in the workplace. Employees report being happier with their jobs at companies that place an emphasis on wellness in the workplace and quality of life for their employees. Employers providing comfortable work stations, ambient music and lighting, healthy snacks and opportunities to take breaks throughout the day are all cited by workers as important benefits. Many companies also choose to help pay for gym memberships or smoking cessation programs for employees.

Employees want to get better. Placing an organizational emphasis on on-going training and the continual development of employees has never been more important. Jobseekers are looking for roles at companies that promote the upward growth of employees and allow them to learn new skills that support their long-term career goals.


As the makeup of the workforce continues to evolve and diversify, employers will need to be sure to keep up with the latest trends and make adjustments in order to remain competitive.

By Rebecca Wentworth

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