Rewards are in the midst of a transition from the strictly standardised to the highly personalised. This includes delivering compensation and benefits (C&B) in a continuous way that is aligned more closely with individual preferences and based on an employee’s whole contribution.

These were some of the hot topics covered at our ChapmanCG HR leaders roundtable hosted in Singapore by Zou Vivian, Regional Rewards Director – Asia Pacific, and Allen Jiang, Global Rewards COE for APMEA Region at Mars.

Health and Wellness are Key

Progressive organisations are taking employee health and wellness very seriously. Health and wellness functions are being created with in-depth expertise rather than merely as part of C&B. We are seeing examples where specialists with PhDs are being hired to assess the challenges and opportunities in those organisations that are really dedicated to improving overall employee wellness.

These specialists build a business case around the importance of prevention. It’s not just the financial benefit to the organisation in terms of reducing the amount of medical leave, but it also important from a branding/employee value proposition and employee engagement perspective. Although it is still not as commonplace in Asia, there have been marked improvements in the way companies manage stress and mental health, with more organisations adding this to their insurance coverage.

Total Rewards Business Partners

While HR Business Partner is a well-known concept for many organisations, some organisations are expanding on this concept and carving out a group within a Total Rewards team to serve as Total Rewards Business Partners. Whilst the focus was once on harmonisation and standardisation, it is now much more focused on differentiation using segmentation to build effective total reward strategies.

Trends in Total Rewards

Florence Ho, Head of Reward Asia at Swiss Re, spoke about rewards being a very important function of an organisation’s success. She outlined the research that points to eight key trends in total rewards, and noted that gender pay equity is a very relevant and important aspect of C&B.

This is a summary of the research that Florence presented:

Employee Engagement

Rewards and recognition were identified as the top engagement opportunities.


Rewards should integrate financial and non-financial elements (recognition, wellbeing, work-life balance, career). They should be designed to make people’s lives better.

Focus on Employee Needs

Employee needs are increasingly important alongside market positioning as a driver for shaping rewards.

Employee Experience

Employees enjoy a consumer-like experience in terms of both optionality (flexible rewards) and delivery through technology.

Recognition Programmes

There is an increasing shift towards global recognition programmes. 

Pay for Performance

There is an emerging focus on significantly differentiating reward for those few employees who have a particularly significant impact on the business.

Executive/Board Transparency

Enhanced disclosure is being requested on a number compensation issues, from variable compensation decisions to individual awards and realised pay.

Gender pay quality

Gender pay equality is on the agenda for many organisations as part of the overall diversity and inclusion focus. Some have discovered appalling gaps and are taking bold actions to correct it. Regulation and media attention for equal pay is rising. Public disclosures showing the pay gap between genders are also increasing.

Responding to Trends Shaping the Future of Work

Florence also outlined how the Swiss Re people strategy has been designed to address trends that are reshaping the future of work, including their strategy for D&I.

Diversity and Inclusion

D&I is part of the people strategy for many organisations. Companies are applying a holistic view with multiple interventions to establish awareness and a mindset change across their organisations. An organisation might begin with a deep analysis to identify gaps and then implement a deeper dive into the causes. The causes can then be categorised into those that are explainable, and those that are unexplainable. After analysis, the Total Rewards team identifies cases for immediate action whilst also building longer-term initiatives to support D&I.

Total Rewards affect the Entire Employee Life Cycle

Total rewards is a highly critical specialism that affects the entire employee life cycle from attraction through to retention and engagement. As HR leaders, we need to focus on how to become more innovative and flexible within the total rewards approach without constantly increasing the salary and labour cost.

Amongst those attending and contributing to the conversation where Suchismita Banerjee from ABB, who we also thank for sharing her insights.