Total Rewards Asia Summit 2022, Singapore

Go beyond fixed compensation, bonuses, and sales commissions, and think about stock option plans, phantom shares, cryptocurrencies, and tokens. One of the learnings shared on-stage at the Summit, more in this report by Lester Tan. 

Human Resources Online kickstarted August 2022 with the Total Rewards Asia Summit 2022, Singapore held at the Shangri-La Hotel on 2-3 August. The summit, or TRAS as we like to call it, hosted more than 200 HR professionals across two days of conference, networking, and roundtables.

For this two-day event, the first day saw HR leaders from The Coca-Cola Company, Greenpac, TechnipFMC, Singapore Pools, and many more take the stage for keynote sessions and panel discussions to highlight the latest trends in the rewards space. The second day, on the other hand, was when all attendees got up-close-and-personal through personalised roundtable discussions across six different topics ranging from the workforce's mental, emotional, physical wellbeing to managing their segmented needs.

For those who missed the knowledge-rich summit, we've gathered a handful of the highlights below.

#1 Be innovative

Ng Zhao Yang, Local Principal, Employment Practice Group, during the summit's opening keynote session, reckoned it is high-time for HR professionals to do away with traditional compensation & benefits (C&B) frameworks, and think beyond fixed compensation, bonuses, and sales commissions.

Ng sees a gaining popularity in rewards such as stock option plans, phantom shares, and cryptocurrencies, but also in "tokens" which employees can "earn by the side", and redeem benefits they desire from the organisation's own marketplace. 

Putting his advice to good use was Cris Ponce, Total Rewards Director - Bottling Investments Group, The Coca-Cola Company. She shared how the beverage bottling company involved all employees to develop a C&B framework - called the Special Measures Framework - that is relevant in today's economic situation, and competitive in today's inflated market. The framework, she noted, covers five Cs (compliance, competitiveness, cost containment, consistency, consolidation) across four pillars of work (engagement, rewards, infrastructure, jobs).

Innovativeness, in the form of employee participation and contribution, she believed, plays a vital role in the battle for talent retention, especially in today's era driven by fears of the 'Great Resignation'.

#2 Time the rewards

That said, having a full-suite of rewards should not be the end-all solution.

In a panel discussion led by Steve Lim, Head of the Group Human Resources, Greenpac, panellists - Laura Ann Yeo, Head of Sales & Marketing, AIA Singapore; Derick Khoo, Director of Human Resources, Asia Area, AstraZeneca, and Aaron Lim, Group Director of Human Resources, Park Hotel Group - urged HR professionals to be aware of rewards execution.

One panellist suggested HR professionals practise delayed gratification, which is to offer C&B "at the right point" and "in bundles" whether it is based on the employee's life stage or function. This is so employees are more aware what the organisation has, so that they have what they need when they need it.

Another panellist reminded employers to treat talents through the "five love languages", i.e. acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, and physical touch. This is important as it creates a level of personalisation and intimacy with the needs of employees - understanding what they genuinely value in terms of C&B.

Beyond that, the discussants concurred there is a need for “social contracts” to be established, a work discipline to not schedule a meeting during lunch hour, for instance, or sending an email after working hours, to be considered and abided by at the workplace.

#3 Think far

Presenters like James O’Reilly, Head of Sales, Unit4 Prosoft; Patrick Tcheng, Director of Total Rewards, South Asia Pacific, Middle East and North Africa, L'Oréal; and Michele Loh, Global Compensation Director, TechnipFMC all affirmed on the need to have conversations around, benchmark salaries and transparently letting employees know where they stand; removing performance ratings, but not performance conversations; considering pay transparency more seriously, and giving a budget to people/line managers so that they have the autonomy to differentiate rewards among their talent.

Those are the more "personalised" elements of compensation & benefits.

Alvin Fu, Chief Corporate Solutions Officer, AIA Singapore, in his presentation, called upon HR professionals to add more "purposeful" elements to their rewards offering. For example, linking existing - and future - C&B framework to the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals around good health and wellbeing, gender equality, as well as responsible consumption and production. This way, it will "reduce inequality, and spur economic growth".

#4 Be inclusive

As the summit drew to a close, the presenters and panellists expanded that C&B should not be limited to monetary terms. Suppose we look at the workforce's state of mental health, more can be done to "establish a strong employee wellness system", especially with more workplaces featuring a multi-generational workforce with different needs and support required.

Theodoric Chew, Co-Founder and CEO, Intellect, in his session, explained how mental health is "not black and white, not yes and no", but "usually a spectrum, circumstantial." As such it is important HR professionals and business leaders learn to openly address mental wellbeing at work, authentically and empathetically. Only through such an approach will it be possible to create “a supportive, inclusive workplace with clear leadership opportunities for growth and good communication channels that can contribute to good mental health in employees.”

Be that as it may, Dr Tiffanie Ong, Chief Product Officer, Naluri warned employers not to neglect their own mental health in the process - because "each one of us cannot pour from an empty cup”.

Previously10 rewards trends that all leaders need to know

Human Resources Online would like to thank all speakers, panelists, moderators, and roundtable hosts for their immense time and mind space invested in leading the industry conversations. We would also like to thank all sponsors & partners for putting their innovative might behind this event and supporting HRO all the way:

  • Platinum sponsor - AIA
  • Gold sponsors - 
    • Intellect
    • Naluri
    • Unit4 Prosoft
  • Silver sponsors - 
    • LifeWorks
    • Virgin Pulse
  • Exhibitors -
    • Afeli
    • Giftano
    • GrabForBusiness
    • HSBC
    • Prudential Assurance Company Singapore

Images / TRAS 2022

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