Differentiating reward in the modern workplace

The employer/employee relationship is shifting, with a fiercely competitive talent environment catalysing a change in reward structures. Inflexion’s recent HR Exchange brought the portfolio together to hear about how firms are having to adapt their recruitment and retention policies to reflect the wants and needs of a 2020s professional. 

Siloed cubicles, water cooler chats and annual reviews are so last decade. If the blackberry blurred work/life boundaries in the noughties, the pandemic has made it clear that we now work from home and home from work. A huge re-think on how organisations attract, monitor, reward and retain talent has been accelerated by the pandemic to make the new workplace literally work for the workers and their bosses.

This shift started around 10 years ago and has accelerated. “Today it’s about how the employer and employee dialogue helps support the value proposition between company and individual. This has implications on the work, workforce and workplace,” explains Christine Theofilou, a Senior Manager at Deloitte Consulting within its HR Advisory team.

She goes on to say it’s now more team-oriented, embedding mobility and flexibility to access new skills and capabilities and support its mission and values. As it’s geographically dispersed, it is made up of humans and machines working together.

This means that future rewards must change, marrying workforce expectations with desired organisational outcomes. “They will need to shift from the status quo – of being narrowly defined and based on what organisations can measure rather than what the workforce values – to more flexible to enable organisations to accommodate new talent models,” she adds.

The biggest change Christine has seen is rewards shifting from a cost base to being deemed a priority investment.

This shift manifests through the deviation from traditional reward practices (‘market value rewards’) towards rewards that engage and motivate the workforce (‘motivator rewards’). Traditional reward elements (i.e., base salary, benefits, bonus, equity) constitute part of the reward package (and will continue to do so). However, they are enhanced by reward elements that support the development and engagement of the workforce. 

“Since today’s workforce seeks more than traditional rewards, there is a steady move away from approaches designed to achieve the simple goal of just paying market value, with the emphasis being on future rewards embedded in the daily wants and needs of employees.” Deloitte has categorised four categories here: rewarding performance, talent investments, culture carriers and wellbeing drivers.

Successful reward practices will also prioritise on-going performance conversations rather than addressing performance at annual review as a ‘tick-box’ exercise to inform year-end decisions . This may mean a shift towards continuous and agile performance dialogue, which is topical as professionals increasingly seek out more regular feedback as they progress their careers. This will be accompanied by a shift towards measuring outputs on achievements while looking at ‘how’ goals are achieved and the behaviours that underpin these achievements.

Overcoming recruitment and retention challenges

CMSPI, a global payments consultancy which received minority investment from Inflexion last year, has devised a graduate recruitment and training programme to cater to today’s talent needs. Devised five years ago to avoid internal churn, its ‘Academy’ has become an integral part of CMSPI’s growth journey – supplying high quality talent to each corner of the business.

“It’s a high-quality training program that gives new recruits exposure to every single aspect in the business; from analysis to economics of the industry & marketing” explains Shahrzad Flanagan, Global Talent Acquisition Manager at CMSPI. “They get to know how each cog works and eventually select their vocation – many of our ‘Academy’ graduates are now mentoring new recruits, or in leadership positions. Attracting, developing & retaining graduates has been fundamental – our great people are our biggest asset”

5 approaches for attracting and retaining key talent


Organisations are using customised strategies to attract and retain key/critical talent in an ultra-competitive market, according to Deloitte. Companies that have identified their talent needs accommodate and offer development opportunities and meaningful work whilst following five core approaches to attract and retain the best professionals:

  • Proactively source talent from other communities (at times from diverse communities)
  • Design personalised career paths
  • Offer dedicated talent-specific development opportunities
  • Provide environments to support the key/critical talents’ workplace preference
  • Deploy customised strategies to be able to reward key/critical talent