With global economies slowing, effective rewards strategies are a hot topic on the HR leader agenda. Mike Piker Vice President - Global Total Rewards / People Technology at Naspers hosted ChapmanCG’s Tim Rayner and Ben Davies, along with15 Senior HR Rewards Leaders to discuss their biggest challenges with regards to international rewards.

Most attendees shared similar priorities around People and Rewards Technology, which encapsulated topics like Immigration and Tax Management, Harmonisation and Simplification and the importance of Employee Engagement, not just Retention.

It was agreed that it is complex to integrate Rewards Technology and often depends on the organizations overall HR operating platform. There are a number of core providers offering effective and agile products or services with very specific and user-friendly mobile technology designed to help businesses operate in complex and varied geographies. But conversations on the broader Rewards technology illustrated that in more cases than not, the Rewards system used would be the one that aligned most efficiently with the broader systems already in use across HR (and/or the business), with a deviation from that only if the organisation was planning an upcoming transformation that would affect the systems.

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Immigration and Tax Management was a topic that concerned attendees as it presented a lot of risk for their organisations. There are a few specialist modules that help to track employees when they work outside of their normal country or region. Some modules have added abilities to flag when employees have more than 30 days (or a designated timeframe) in a location or to highlight when employees arrive in particular countries that have more stringent tax regimes than others. It seems like there is an increasing plethora of these types of technology offerings that can be tailored and used as an add-on to the existing HR operating systems.

Harmonisation and Simplification was another key topic especially with the increase of global frameworks rollouts that need to be adopted locally. Adaptation of global systems into the local environment is known to be challenging, but organisations with strong communication systems and a straight-forward approach (about what can and cannot be adapted) report the most success. In terms of simplification, a term used by many successful business leaders, it remains to be seen how we can continue to utilise and then best manage very specific solutions whilst at the same time not overcomplicating and simply adding to the increasing amount of data technology that must be managed on an ongoing basis.

Everyone agreed that innovative, well-managed and communicated rewards offerings are business critical across the board, and not just by finance, Rewards and HR professionals. With the effective use of People and Rewards Technologies, there is an increased opportunity to add value and offer not only cost savings, risk management, performance management and retention strategies, but also provide meaningful impact on the organisations cultural journey. As an example, one organisations discussed how they created a Private Equity rewards model that had employees at a certain management level invest a minimum amount of equity into the business when they join. The idea was to create a positive correlation between effective leadership and the increase in the value of their equity =over the next three to five years. This example further highlighted the ongoing opportunity for innovative and creative rewards solutions to have a huge impact on employee engagement.

Interestingly, it was generally agreed that these days, the more common types of LTI are not seen as a real benefit or fit-for-purpose long term incentives; the reason behind this being that the amounts offered are no longer enough to actually retain employees. However, it was noted that this was not the case in the US where the culture of LTI’s have more advantageous incentives, and therefore, are still effective retention tools.

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Most in attendance agreed that often organisations put a lot of energy into implementation of new technology, processes and frameworks, but often it’s the ability to execute at a country level or market level that gets neglected. In a lot of cases, it’s because of a lack of communication and education, especially in the developing markets which often tend to be smaller or have a need to be more agile in how they operate.

As is our intention, ChapmanCG was very happy to see such a great group of talented people within our network share their experiences and views on the various opportunities and challenges they face. We shall re convene with a following Rewards Leaders roundtable in Amsterdam at some stage early 2017.

‘It was a great session. One always realises when you walk away from a rewards session with one’s peers that our Global Rewards/People Technology issues have many similarities.’

Mike Piker, Vice President - Global Total Rewards / People Technology, Nasper