10 Things I Learned at Total Rewards


Brenda Pohlman (Globoforce) and Cesar Villa (The Hershey Company)

Brenda Pohlman (Globoforce) and Cesar Villa (The Hershey Company)

WorldatWork’s Total Rewards conference kicked off on Monday in Minneapolis and we attended tons of sessions these past few days—feverishly recording everything we learned along the way to share with you. Here’s a wrap-up of top 10 most interesting things we learned:

  1. Humanity in the workplace is a growing trend. In the session “Incentive Pay Design as an Enabler of Company Culture,” Capital One presented their completely redesigned incentive pay program. It enables more humanity in the call center by empowering employees and creating happier customers.
  2. Recognition is an opportunity to drive bottom line business results. That’s what we learned in “The Power of Thanks to Empower a Multigenerational Workforce: Sweet Success at Hershey.” Cesar Villa, Director of Compensation Global Functions at The Hershey Company, shared some really powerful data on their Hershey’s Smiles program. In just one year, this social recognition program has facilitated 50,000 recognition moments and boosted employee satisfaction on rewards and recognition by 11%. More on that in an upcoming blog post!
  3. More individual, customized employee rewards are the future. In the Total Rewards 2020 session, Steven Gross, Senior Partner at Mercer, said managing five generations in the workforce requires sensitivity to varying generational needs.
  4. The #1 factor people would like to see in a potential employer is employee recognition. And according to Aon Hewitt, 1 out of 2 employees get too little recognition. Employees are craving appreciation and a more human workplace.
  5. Emotional intelligence is key to success at work. Bobi Seredich, co-founder at Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence, shared that emotional intelligence accounts for more than 2 times IQ and technical skills combined as a predictor of success.
  6. In the same vein, we need to focus on building relationships in the workplace. Bobi Seredich shared that emotional connection at work and successfully influencing others requires coaching, communicating, and empathizing with coworkers and direct reports.
  7. Data. Data. Data. Steven Gross from Mercer said that HR decision-making is moving from “I think” to “I know.” More powerful, predictive modeling will help us manage total rewards in 2020.
  8. Spot awards are gaining momentum. According to a Globoforce and Hay Group study, the #1 priority for spot awards is aligning the program to a company’s core values. And more and more, companies are using spot awards to reward and celebrate innovation.
  9. Talent management will be much more aggressive in the 2020 workplace. Steven Gross predicts more frequent performance assessments with annual ratings to really develop internal resources.
  10. Incentives are not enough to change behaviors in the workplace. In his session, “Tips to Overcome Employee Inaction,” Stephen Wendel, Principal Scientist at HelloWallet, said when we communicate with employees, we need to really understand what connects with them. Our communication should be a conversation, not an announcement.

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