Creative Compensation: 3 Growth Concepts for Your Firm

High performing clients bring more to your company than the quality of their work – and that’s even though salary growth over the last five years has hovered between 2 to 3%.

That means we all have to get creative in rewarding employees at our firms. You can also leverage their example to inspire their colleagues – without making them unpopular in the office. The key: creatively rewarding employees using your high performers. Consider these ideas:

Be right on the “money”. What does money mean to your top performers? Usually it has nothing to do with money. Some are motivated by:

  • public recognition
  • receiving more responsibility
  • earning the chance to be mentored by an executive, or
  • participate in an exclusive work group within your company.

Dig deep for these motivations. You may just have to be extremely observant as many employees won’t necessarily raise their hands and say, “Don’t pay me. I want a certificate instead!” Get even more creative than the examples mentioned, and other employees will also value those things and will be less likely to demand raises. They’ll be content and truly valued. Most importantly, they’ll feel as if they’re being heard.

Really all they want is to be recognized in a way that makes the feel appreciated and critical to the organization’s success.

Perfect cash-less promotions. One thing to do in this case is promote without necessarily calling it that. Also, let employees in the same department to recommend fellow workers to serve in different roles. When the entire group/department gets rewarded for results, you’ll get more buy-in for those cash-less promotions since they originate from their peers.

This is such an effective technique because it:

  • lowers the jealousy factor among employees when one of them is singled out for a great job
  • eliminates cash accompanying increased responsibilities, and
  • gives unlikely employees a chance to shine in an area they didn’t believe they’d mastered.
  • That last one holds exponential benefits for your company. Sometimes the people who are the best in a role never believed they could do it, until they started doing it.

Bonus: Making this a group decision takes pressure off of department heads to single someone out and cause bad blood among the unrecognized employees. As we established earlier, payment means a lot of things.

Reward risk taking and steadiness. One of the best things about personality indicator tests (MBTI and DISC). Many workers don’t necessarily look at their skills as an asset. Why? They compare themselves to others’ results and feel less adequate or somehow incomplete. This is where our creativity as HR professionals can shine and take flight. Give employees kudos when they leverage their dominant personality type to help their department or the company as a whole to achieve goals.

Whatever you use to give your employees a high five, the key theme throughout is to let the employee say what’s valuable to them and highlight their unique skills. This validating behavior creates super-employees who can do more than they ever thought they could and have more of an impact on the business than they expected.

The benefits: The employees feel fulfilled and the company improves due to high performance from workers. This picture might seem idyllic. Consider trying just one of these ideas and test the results. It could be that only one is the right fit for your organization, but that one could have maximum impact and turn around a tough situation you may be facing within your company.

(Source:, 04/01/2013)

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