The increasingly hot demand for Reward Talent brings us to explore the factors contributing to this ongoing specialist skill shortage especially given the focus on this area that traditionally takes place this quarter.

The demand for local reward professionals is increasing across Asia specifically within Singapore, Hong Kong and China. The Ministry of Manpower are looking to increase the Singaporean work force which is further contributing to this ongoing issue, restricting the flow of international mid-level specialists into the job market and placing increasing competitive pressure over permanent residents and Singaporean citizens. Although employers have recently been reluctant to pay relocation costs they are facing increasing pressure to consider some form of relocation support for bringing in foreign reward talent at the more senior levels.

There is a relatively small and tight pool of Compensation and Benefit specialists in the global market. We believe this issue stems from the fact that reward professionals predominantly stem from consulting backgrounds. Consulting firms such as the Hay Group, Towers Watson, Aon Hewitt and Mercer are niche and although an ideal base from which to develop future Compensation and Benefit leaders, they tend to be relatively small. They provide a solid foundation in terms of methodology and best practice and offer reward professionals a leading edge in securing future corporate roles. These firms are faced with ongoing pressure to retain qualified reward consultants who are being regularly enticed by lucrative corporate opportunities and packages.

This small sourcing pool remains the primary basis for reward professionals and with few institutions globally offering reward qualifications in this area (basically niche professional bodies). The issue is further compounded by the fact that few corporations are investing in training and professional membership of reward bodies to pipeline tomorrows reward leaders. Generally speaking we are therefore not seeing widespread, ongoing development and expansion of this profession.

Another, less common, source of reward professionals stems from the finance profession. We do see some compensation and benefit specialists obtaining cross functional exposure within existing organisations moving from finance into reward roles. However with tight and ongoing pressure on training budgets it is not an easy path for such individuals, especially for those joining small teams as opposed to larger more specialized environments.

Such issues outlined above are further compounded by the fact that available talent rarely meets the increasing expectations of employers in this function. Employers are looking for highly specialised reward skills, resume stability combined with a strong cultural fit. They need to feel these new HR hires will offer longevity and stability within the discipline which further lengthens the recruitment process.

Interestingly as a specialisation, Compensation and Benefits has changed substantially over the past decade. Historically attracting, retaining and motivating employees took the back seat to the key focus on the employee pay process itself. Todays work environment has evolved to the point where companies not only understand the importance of such concepts for driving morale across the business, but as key drivers on bottom line results.

The size of the skilled reward talent pool seems to be shrinking with availability of experienced reward leaders in hot demand, in the mid to senior management level in particular. We are seeing the function expanding to include regional responsibility together with some off shoring of reward roles; however cost is not always the key driver in this trend. It is heavily related to people and skill availability as covered above. China, The Philippines and India are continuing to evolve as strong sources of reward talent with Bangalore itself probably having the highest C&B talent relative to the size of the labour market. We have noticed that the majority of Reward candidates are receiving in excess of two job offers.

Essentially it is our ongoing challenge to provide prospective employers with experienced and creative reward candidates. Maintaining a strong focus on ensuring reward packages not only remain competitive, but have the ability to attract, retain and engage talent whilst simultaneously driving enhanced job satisfaction, motivation and reducing ongoing absenteeism.