Perry is Co-founder of CompTrak - a cloud based highly secure compensation management platform that enables better decision-making, employee empowerment and ultimately productivity. For over 18 years, Perry has brought organizational transformation across the financial, healthcare, and retail sectors - boasting clients such as RBC, CIBC, Raymond James, Nutrien and Sephora.Follow Follow
On this episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks with Perry Doody about how companies can leverage a total rewards experience to attract new talent. Considering the current client, this is an invaluable conversation, and we invite you to leave your thoughts in the comments.
Perry is a founding partner at CompTrak and an expert in organizational transformation. He brings with him over 18 years of experience and a career anchored in observing and assessing the compensation management landscape.
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Listening Time: 27 minutes
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This is RecruitingDaily’s recruiting live podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three year old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
Ladies and gentlemen, this William Tincup. You are listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today, we have Perry on from CompTrak and we’re going to talk about how companies can leverage a total rewards experience to attract new talent. And again, it’s getting hard out there to attract talent. So this is going to be really fun to talk to Perry about what he sees, the innovation and how do you can create kind of a competitive advantage by what you offer folks? So let’s do some introductions first. Perry, would you introduce both yourself and Comptrak?
Sure. And thanks, William. It was a pleasure to be here. I’m Perry Duty. I’m one of the founding partners at Comptrak. And what we do at CompTrak is really help companies bring to life their compensation plans. So we handle the management of different types of rewards, the year end cycle, total rewards experience, which I’m here to talk to you about today. And yeah, very interesting time right now in HR.
So, all right. Let’s just start with kind of pre COVID and let’s say the things that you saw, the table stakes in total rewards. For companies that are just good companies, what’s table stakes? So let’s set the table for folks and say, “Okay, here’s your basics. This is just stuff you should be offering.” If you’re not, let’s just start there and then let’s move around the monopoly board around what they should be adding to that to attract new talent.
Yeah. So what I would say is, it’s interesting pre COVID seems almost like a lifetime ago.
Like in terms of when you start thinking about it. What I would say is there was a much more traditional approach to total reward. So your base pay, your bonus. In some cases you had long term incentives. You’ve had different types of benefit plans, perks, and somewhat traditional. What was interesting and companies sometimes we’re very challenged in terms of articulating the total value offering to their employees. And in many cases, data can be an enabler but it can also hinder things. So companies struggled sometimes in laying out all their perks.
And just as an example is a lot of companies, pre COVID, offered remote working but they never really articulated it as a benefit. And I think what you’re seeing now is those companies that were able to show it were in a much different place during COVID. They were better prepared. But now coming out of it, we’re seeing as a perk, how much employees really benefit that. And that in itself is a game changer in being able to articulate that as a value. Even though there may not be a specific amount to working at home or working we’re remotely, we see that people value that and that’s important in their daily lives.
Okay. So now the folks that when they’re having these conversations, some of it is they have things and either their candidates or their employees don’t know that they have them, so there’s a usage problem on one end. And the other is, is innovating around new things that talent wants, whether or not it’s employees or candidates that they want. So let’s deal with both of those, right? So one is usage and the other is innovation.
Right. And great example or great highlighting that. So we worked with a company for instance, that what they really wanted to do through their total rewards experience with employees is not just educate their employees about everything that they offered, but also highlight opportunities where employees were not taking advantage of, as an example, an employee share ownership program that the company was matching. So through their total rewards experience, they were saying, “Hey, look, it. You’ve contributed zero and so the company matches zero. This is the opportunity lost.” And then as we start to look at other companies who are really innovating, what they’re tending to do now is almost like what companies have done with flex benefits accounts is that they’re offering different perks and opportunities to different employees that want to take advantage of them.
So for instance, one thing that I’ve seen is that instead of maybe a one time cash bonus at the end of the year, there’s an education opportunity. You can direct that amount into a tuition perk or benefit. And so this is where companies are starting to really understand their employee base much more and customize their offerings to those individuals. And that becomes very important in the recruiting process. Being able to articulate that flexibility because as we know, different things mean more to different individuals and employees.
So the communication for candidates let’s deal with that real quick.
Obviously I’m thinking of careers page and thinking about job descriptions and things like that, maybe even conversations that recruiters have with talent. What do you see as kind of the best practices in terms of, okay, you’re investing in these benefits. You’re investing in this total rewards experience that you want to create for folks how best to communicate that? We’ll deal with it on the candidate side because there’s obviously a different strategy for employees.
Yeah. So if you think of candidates, typically you would be engaged with a recruiter or the company that would lead up to some sort of offer letter, right? In the offer letter, it would kind of have all the details of your package. What’s interesting, what we do is we’ll work with companies to create total rewards digital experience, both in mobile and a desktop experience. And we’re starting to open that up to candidates so that they can actually think of fast forward a year and see what their total package would look like in terms of not just dollars, but also offerings and different benefit programs that they may be participating in. So think of it almost as a what is scenario for the candidate to see, “Hey, this is all of the opportunity that I have from a total rewards perspective.”
But then when it gets into things like incentives, depending upon my role in the organization, what impact I have, that incentive can look very different depending upon the result. And so it’s almost like a calculator to show the candidate what impact they can have and what it might mean to them from a total rewards experience. So it’s taking that total rewards experience and instead of just being retroactive, looking forward, almost a performa to what the candidate’s total package could look like.
The best companies in the world, and again, you work with a lot of them. So the best companies in the world, where are they innovating right now as it relates to kind of the connected … You’re dealing with connective tissue, right? Total rewards is something historically we’ve done a lot of communicating post hire. So let’s say during onboarding, it’s like, “Oh, here’s all these things.” With talent being in the shortage of the way it is, 11 million jobs open, people aren’t necessarily in a rush to go or they’re accepting six or seven different jobs at the same time with the intent to only pick one. It’s getting harder for sourcers to find talent, for recruiters to then recruit that talent. What do you see, again kind best practices, but just people that are just being just kind of out of the box, just being really, really innovative about communicating both, not just what they have but how to utilize it and how it’ll make their overall employee experience better than if they went with somewhere el
Great question. So what I would say is one is they think about this all year round. So this isn’t about let’s kind of do a debrief and look back and it’s a one time thing. They’re constantly thinking of this and they have people who are thinking about it. And one of the nice things I love about the companies we work with is they’re often open to sharing practices with each other and saying, “What are you doing?” “How are you think of things?” But the thinking of it as an ongoing basis is pretty important.
Two, the other thing that they’re doing is that they realize that total rewards is not just about numbers. It’s about communication, explaining what their benefits are, educating people, but also highlighting and articulating culture. It’s really interesting. Some of the big retail clients that we’ve worked with, these are employees that were on the front lines during COVID. They didn’t have an option of working remotely. So what a story to kind of go back to them with the impact that not only did they have on their company, but that they had on society in general, like in terms of really articulating it. And so we’ve seen companies and we’ve worked with them so that as an employee, when I come onto my to rewards experience, it’s not a generic statement. It’s personalized. It goes to the impact that I have. It may have some pictures. It really speaks to culture, mission, and vision. And that really resonates a with people.
So first is a question around the array of total rewards, right? All companies have kind of a different kind of array. How do they go about figuring out what needs to be added to their offerings?
It’s another fantastic question. And so often they’ll do some competitive analysis. What I find the really forward looking companies are doing is they’re talking, not just to their employees, but they may talk to potential recruits that didn’t come on. What was missing? What was really meaningful to them? And I do believe that what’s me more and more important is customizing and configuring total rewards offerings to different individuals. People are at different stages in their life, depending upon maybe your age, right where you are in your career. And so it’s really important to kind of tap into that.
As an example, what I’ve seen with a lot of companies is that they’re looking at extending out LTIP offerings and equity offerings to more employees. Employees want to feel like they’re a part owner in the company. So, how can you do that? And I really think that ongoing feedback, and as I said, not just once a year but ongoing, is very important. And we’ve all seen, especially the larger you get, if you could reduce your turnover and improve retention, it has positive impact throughout the organization and ultimately makes its way down to your bottom line.
So I don’t want to assume there’s something generational around total rewards and attracting new talent, however, you’re the expert. So do you see anything different from millennials or GenZ, like things that they want or things that they care or prioritize?
So what I see in terms of the younger generations is they’re more transparent. They’re much more in tune to equity and fairness. And so people want to know, I don’t care just what my bonus number is, but how did you calculate it? How did I contribute to it? How are you rewarding performance?
And I could remember when I first started in the workforce, I won’t say how many years ago that was, but it was somewhat secretive in terms of what your package was. You didn’t really talk about compensation with your colleagues. I find that much more different. And when I say their conversation is really driven in wanting to be informed. And quite frankly, they have those conversations. So it’s raised the bar in terms of communication back to employees about these are our plans. This is how we reward performance and employees will call them out on it. So is where equity and transparency will go a long way with not only recruiting employees, but retaining them as well.
Well, the first of all, thanks. I kind of felt that, but I didn’t have any empirical proof of course.
Obviously, we all know that diversity and inclusion, it’s top of mind for everybody and rightfully so. And I’m sure you’re having conversations with everybody that you have conversations with in total rewards. Is there some linkage or anything that can be done in terms of offering different types of benefits or different types of packages or whatever, to help them give a leg up in recruiting a more diverse candidate population.
Yeah. So it’s definitely a hot topic and rightfully so right now. And some of this is about understanding what that offering could be? What is important to people? Again, what I see a lot of companies doing is that they’re proactive on this topic where they’ll start to look at their own data. They’ll start to look at what are they tracking. And in some cases, just committing to that process and looking at information, realizing that might not be a hundred percent perfect. But once you start to analyze it, you will see things. And it’s only then where you have some of the data that you can start to enact policies and maybe change your offerings and have offerings that are more reflective of that diverse population.
I follow a lot of my colleagues on LinkedIn who work for different organizations, and I could see it with some of the things that they’re posting in terms of what they’re doing. And so part of this is about engagement, just going out and … Someone told me, they said, you may get the terminology wrong, or you may get things incorrect, but that shouldn’t stop you from starting to go down a path of looking at this and how you can make a difference. And so I see it with a lot of forward looking organizations.
So explaining total rewards to maybe someone that’s right out of college. A lot of folks that listen to the podcast, obviously they went to college, got out of college, and you’re pretty ignorant about … You don’t think you are, of course. You’re pretty ignorant about work and what happens behind the veil at an office, et cetera. How do you think companies should do a better job of kind of portraying, just breaking down the world of total reward and making sure that they understand kind of all the things that they have access to and get them excited about it. Like genuinely excited, like you have access to this and so there’s some training and things like that. I’m really thinking about how do they market it better today than we did X number of years ago? And again, you deal with best companies in the world, how do they market that total awards experience, especially new to the workforce talent, we’ll say?
Yeah, so it’s interesting. I would say probably for the first 10 to 15 years of my career, I thought of total rewards as my salary and bonus.
And maybe it’s because I was younger and the benefits didn’t really resonate with me. Having said that, I have a 17 year old son who works part-time doing a co-op in a restaurant and he eats probably better than I do. And he eats at a very low cost and that is an example of that’s a great benefit to him. He has access to mentors. So he wants to be in culinary, so he’s interacting with people so there’s a mentorship component. So when you start to break down all the benefits of total rewards, many things go into it. And in some cases you can’t necessarily quantify it, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
And I often today and when I’m talking to people who want to come on to Comptrak, when I talk about total rewards, you’re going to spend 7, 8, 9 hours maybe a day, depending on upon the day, doing something with a company is that you should really understand what is important to you. And that is everything. Yes, that’s salary, that’s incentive compensation, that’s your benefits package, but that’s also culture. It’s about the people that you’ll be exposed to. It’s about maybe the ability to work remotely. It’s about the technology you have. What’s going to be provided? And it’s important that you remind your employees and also ask them what’s important to them? What makes their work life enjoyable? And that, to me, is what total rewards is all about.
There’s many aspects that go into it that both quantitative that you can define and qualitative that just go to things like culture. Culture is hard to define, but you understand what it is when you’re in the moment. And I think it’s really important that to me, total rewards is also about creating a culture that you will thrive in. And that’s how I look at it, but it’s a great concept. And I think it takes effort to communicate it out and constantly remind people as well.
So you and I lived in a world where there were printed paychecks.
Right? They were perforated. And you’d see the FICA and social security, you’d see all these little things being taken out of your check and of course you’re upset about all those things being taken out of your check. But you also mentioned why I bring that up is you mentioned transparency. Do you see some of the best companies that do a better job of, I don’t know if it’s an annual report or if it’s monthly or weekly, but basically breaking down all of those things that make up benefits that are far deeper and far wider than people think about. Do you think there’s, again, the kind of strategies to communicate what all you get, not just salary and bonus or not just salary, bonus, and benefits or whatever. How do you think, and again, I said annual report. It’s probably not the right thing to think of. But how do you get them … Go ahead.
Yeah, no, I’m sure there’s still some dot matrix printers around. They can modify those things. And COVID, what we saw was an opportunity for a lot of companies to kind of get off of legacy processes and become more digital. Most people have a phone today, so you have to make the experience mobile. But what that provides an opportunity to do is go beyond the salary, the deductions, the net pay, the contributions and really show, Hey. We worked with a very prominent retailer who went down the total rewards road because they really wanted to show their employees how much they were taking advantages of staff discounts and that was a significant number. And so just being a part of this organization, you’re entitled to discounts and it could be potentially thousands and thousands of dollars and you can show them that. So instead of a dot matrix check that comes out, it’s a digital statement that shows you the benefits that you took advantage of.
So there’s tremendous ways with the technology we have today to not only show it, but be almost real time. One of the things that I think we’re both seeing now with some of the apps that we use is that if I go to Cineplex and I use my SCENE points and I get a free movie, they remind me right away. I’ve used my reward points for a free movie. That’s the approach that you can take. Everything’s becoming more real time, more digital and in the moment so that people don’t forget it. And they’re aware of you’re taking advantage of something that your employer is offering.
Love this. Okay. So two questions left. One is around hybrid and remote and what you see and kind of the change in strategy of companies and what they need to do differently in terms of dealing with this new hybrid workforce and workplace, and maybe even remote forever. And so like all of those types of things, just kind of what you observe and of what you think kind of the better companies are doing to kind of futureproof themselves and really kind of get ready for whatever that is from a total rewards perspective?
So it’s interesting. I think if you’re unable to offer remote in some form right now, you’re at a significant disadvantage. But what I saw as two things, one is, and I’ll talk about our own company. So we had a hybrid model just in terms of as we were growing, we had a mix of people coming in and then a mix of people working remote and some hoteling. And so when COVID hit, we were in a good spot that people were able to continue their work. Then we worked with clients that had a hybrid model as well, but as an example, I’ll use this, year end. They would still do their statements, their year end letters, compensation letters in a batch format and still hand them out. Well, that went away, right? That went away for companies. They had to go.
So we helped a lot of companies pivot and go mobile, be able to do those things. So it’s here and I don’t think there’s any going back. We even see it with some employees that we have is that if you could save a couple hours on your commute, still get the job done, that’s about empowerment. That’s a win-win. And that, coming back to the total rewards experience, is a value to the employee, a significant value. So from my perspective, it’s going to be interesting to see what the next 12 months bring. But I think a lot of companies, and we’re seeing it, companies that have announced that probably remote working is here to stay.
So now let’s go further out.
Let’s go five years out. Let’s put on our futuristic hat. And again you are again on the front line of this, what do you think some of the, programmatically, the things that companies are going to need to start thinking about and possibly even executing upon five years from now?
So what I see is more and more total rewards packages being customized to individuals, right? And we see it even now in terms of, as an example, we work with companies where their bonus plans use a structure where there’s an inventory of performance measures that you could pick for those employees. And so it’s a customized incentive plan within a framework, but very much made real to the employees. So I see more personalization as it relates to total rewards. Quite frankly, I see employees having more leverage that when they come on, they can pick and choose what they might participate in. So I use the example that maybe tuition is more important than a year-end bonus. So them being able to really influence it. So I think the market for talent is going to get tighter and tighter. And what’s going to really differentiate companies is their ability to not only recruit that talent, but retain them. Just more leverage to employees and companies are going to have to up their game and I think better communication, transparency, is going to go a long way in doing that.
I love it. I love it. Perry, thank you so much. This has been a fantastic topic to explore with you and just I appreciate your time today.
Likewise, I really enjoyed the conversation.
And thanks for everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Until next time.
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William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.