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Why high-cost rewards may not be the answer

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Willis Towers Watson’s “Modernising Total Rewards Survey” shows that about one in three employers in Hong Kong have formal total rewards philosophies for different segments of their workforce.

Total rewards programmes typically include compensation, health and wellbeing programmes, retirement and financial benefits, flexible work programmes, recognition programmes, learning and development opportunities, and career opportunities.

While employees nowadays expect consumer-grade, personalised and flexible rewards schemes, merely 35% and 32% of Hong Kong employers provide meaningful choice and a consumer-grade experience within their benefit programmes respectively, lower than the global average.

“Any initiative aimed at improving the total rewards experience must take into consideration what employees value most and how those preferences differ by employee segment,” said Wen Wan, director of talent and rewards at Willis Towers Watson.

“Our research and experience show that high-cost rewards are not necessarily highly valued by employees, and organisations end up spending on high-cost rewards that provide little return in employees’ engagement and retention.”

The total cost of total rewards programmes (68%) and the impact on the ability to retain employees (48%) are the top ROI measurements for Hong Kong employers.

“However, few organisations take a comprehensive measurement approach. A comprehensive approach needs to include total cost, cost of individual programmes, and impact on attraction, retention and engagement of employees,” Wan said.

The Willis Towers Watson 2018 “Modernising Total Rewards Survey” was conducted in June and July 2018. A total of 1,670 employers worldwide participated in 44 markets, including 46 employers from Hong Kong.

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