Employers, employees need to consider total compensation

Originally published in the Kenosha News

By Community Development Educator, Amy Greil

Who does not wish they could earn more? And at the same time, what employer does not want more commitment from their employees? What is the true win-win whereby both parties can be satisfied?

I attended a recent event sponsored by Racine-Kenosha’s local chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management. The event featured a consultant team speaking about total compensation.

Having not been familiar with what the term total compensation really meant, I attended to explore how private, public and non-profit employers, and their human resource professionals, can better market their positions and attract/retain talented workers.

By learning how to quantify the true value of investment in employees, organizations may have an “ace in the hole” in recruiting and maintaining quality hires.

What I learned left an impact on me because, for one, I had never thought about the scope of the full array of benefits that are afforded to me through my employer. I sensed it, kind of, but never really could wrap my head around it.

That is when it occurred to me just how often employers undersell themselves. And it got me thinking how many emerging mechanisms are coming online that employers could consider utilizing to set themselves apart from the pack when trying to attract/retain highly qualified employees within a tight labor market.

What employers can provide

Commonly seen company-provided necessities, provided by employers at no expense to the employee, would tend to include things like uniforms, tools, computers, cellphones, company cars, etc.

Benefits tend to include health, dental, vision benefits and paid leave.

Tuition reimbursement, workers compensation, professional development funds, parking stipends, travel and meal allowances, 401(k) match, Health Saving Accounts match, Employee Assistance Programs and mileage reimbursement are other, yes, more standard forms of compensation. But, like me, these may be taken for granted by uninformed employees.

There are other “newer-age” benefits like relocation reimbursement, child-care stipends, paternal leave and bonus pay structures.

And even “flashier” yet might be genetic testing reimbursements, infertility treatment reimbursements, identification theft protection, emergency fund accessibility, student loan repayment — and even pet insurance has entered the equation.

Of consideration also may be clearly identified career ladders, opportunities for advancement and well-communicated salary grades. These are added benefits that companies may not commonly consider as unique perks contributing to total compensation.

Not all benefits fit

Surely, an organization’s mission and values will determine how compensation is dispensed.

Some benefits just simply will not “fit” the industry or profile of workers required. Done well, however, compensation reinforces values of the organization.

When appropriately shared with employees and recruits, companies demonstrate the true breadth of investment.

Ultimately, the awareness of my own total compensation has deepened the commitment that I feel toward my employer. Now that is a true win-win.