By implementing a total reward program, a company can build a reputation as a great place to work and therefore attract the best talent. Non-monetary benefits and perks can, when combined with competitive salaries, form a well-rounded compensation strategy that helps an organization attract candidates, increase offer acceptance rates, and improve retention. Over the last three years, it’s become more and more common for candidates to receive multiple job offers at one time— and, consequently, for companies to increase salaries to attract them. Salary isn’t necessarily the most important factor candidates consider, though, and the best way for companies to increase offer acceptance (especially in multiple-offer scenarios) is by making improvements in the non-monetary incentives they provide.




The perks that an organization offers can make the difference between whether it hires a strong candidate—or whether it loses him or her to a competitor. Candidates respond especially well to perks that positively affect their work/life balance. These include services that enable employees to take care of personal tasks during work hours (such as dry cleaning drop off and pickup at the office), that make working parents’ lives less stressful (such as breast milk delivery services and onsite childcare), and that help recent graduates transition to the workforce (such as student loan payoff programs).


Non-monetary compensation (such as merchandise, travel, and gift certificates) can sometimes be more even effective than perks when it comes to motivating employees. Cash should always top the list of incentives, of course. But multiple studies by the Incentive Research Foundation have found that a total rewards program that includes non-monetary rewards appeals more to employees and candidates than traditional forms of compensation alone.


Although most employees appreciate free dry cleaning and flexible scheduling, many of them also want opportunities to increase and develop their skills. (This is particularly true for—though not limited to—high productivity workers who have already demonstrated a drive to excel.) Therefore companies should consider setting up career advancement programs that are open to all employees (not just the high-potential ones). Such a program could include stipends for online subscription-based training services (such as Lynda and Udemy), participation in established corporate training programs, and opportunities to attend (and present at) professional conferences, for example.


Candidates who are reviewing job offers look at more than just salary figures. They also pay attention to other incentives, such as nonmonetary compensation and perks. Companies that offer total reward programs that incorporate all of these elements usually see their job-offer–acceptance rates rise.

When implementing a total reward program at your company, start by examining what your competitors offer. Most companies detail their compensation strategies online in order to attract strong candidates, so be sure to match (at minimum) or exceed their offerings. Pay attention, too, to what has already been effective at your organization: if your employees have loved a particular perk in the past, improve upon it even more and make it a “must have” feature of your workplace.

Above all, don’t make assumptions about what your employees want. Survey them routinely to find out what incentives they truly value. With a thorough understanding of their interests, you’ll be able to craft a total rewards program that attracts—and retains—the best employees.



Jessica Miller-Merrell is a workplace change agent focused on human resources and talent acquisition. Named to Haydn Shaughnessy’s 2013 list of top 50 social media power influencers, she’s the founder of Workology (formerly Blogging4Jobs). She can be contacted on Twitter at @jmillermerrell.

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