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Total Rewards: Motivating and Retaining Top Talent


Employees discussing total rewards.

With a tight labor market and rising healthcare costs, the importance of employee benefits has never been greater. Employers can attract top talent with a well-planned Total Rewards program, offering comprehensive compensation and benefits packages that drive increased employee engagement and satisfaction.

Employees care more about employee benefits than ever before. In fact, nearly 54% of job-seekers say they would consider a lower paying job with a better benefits package.

Considering this, it has never been more important for employers to showcase their total rewards program.

A well-planned rewards package can help you attract talent in a tight labor market. It can also promote awareness of compensation and benefit offerings to your employees, and increase overall employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Despite this, many employers lack a total rewards strategy, and are missing out on a vital opportunity to proactively attract, engage and retain top talent.


What is Total Rewards Compensation?

A total rewards package is one that considers the full financial value that employers offer to their employees. It includes two types of compensation:

  • Direct Compensation. This includes any money that is paid directly to an employee, such as salary, hourly wages, bonuses, and commission.
  • Indirect Compensation. This includes any non-cash benefits provided to an employee, such as health and wellness programs, PTO, retirement savings programs, stock options, and/or profit sharing.


How to Build Out a Competitive Rewards Package

In addition to including direct and indirect compensation, employers should also consider their non-cash related benefits, otherwise known as perks. These perks may include flexible work scheduling, a positive workplace culture, learning and development opportunities, and more.

As employers build out their total rewards package, they should include the following:

  • Salary, hourly wages, bonuses and/or commission
  • Retirement savings plans
  • Health and wellness plans (including medical, dental/vision, life and disability)
  • Paid time off (including vacation, sick, personal and holidays)
  • Flexible spending accounts
  • Flexible work hours/scheduling
  • Employee perks (education assistance programs, learning and development opportunities, childcare assistance programs, company discounts, etc.)


How to Communicate Your Total Rewards Program

Communicating total rewards to employees should be an ongoing and leading priority for HR managers.

Michele Underhill, Manager of HR Client Services at XpanseHR, advises employers to determine what works best for their workforce when determining how to share their total rewards programs:

“When it comes to communicating total rewards compensation, there is no one-size fits all.

Some employers will have robust portals that allow employees to view and interact with their benefits in real time. Others will have to gauge their workforce to determine what works best – perhaps by surveying the workforce and identifying different methods to share total rewards information. This can be in the form of routine email communications, department meetings, lunch and learns, all hands meetings and even electronic or printed booklets.”

The important thing for employers to focus on is that they convey the value that they bring to their employees’ financial and overall well-being. While employees often have a clear understanding of what they are being paid through routine pay statements, an annual total rewards statement can highlight the direct and indirect financial benefits of being an employee at their company.


How XpanseHR Can Help

XpanseHR’s Human Resource and Compensation experts help businesses build out, implement, and communicate compensation and rewards programs that work for their business and their workforce. To learn more, contact us at or 610-614-5500.