The August issue of WorldatWork's workspan magazine features an interview with Bruce Ellig, the WorldatWork Keystone Award recipient in 2004, more recently honored with the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business' Distinguished Business Alumni Award, whose total rewards career covers a span from the 1960's through today.
In the workspan interview, Ellig is asked about the common mistakes that new practitioners to the field of rewards make. His response, part of which I quote below, provides wisdom worth heeding for all HR and reward professionals (even those of use who've been here for a few years).
Too much focus on trends and hot topics. Not enough focus on customizing programs and processes to address real needs. People have programs looking for an application rather than analyzing the issue and then determining what's the best program or process. Too many start at the end and work toward the beginning. Logically they should start at the beginning.
Here, here! My experience would completely confirm the prevalence of this problem. When I speak publicly on the topic of rewards, and in meetings with prospective clients shopping for a consultant, the most frequent question I am asked is:
What are the hottest trends in compensation?
It is the wrong question, and it reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of how rewards work in an organization. It also reveals a desire to skip the basics (as Ellig states, analyzing the issue and determining the best program and process - to address it) and simply apply the coolest new solution without thought to its fit or relevance.
The result of this all-too-common mistake: a reward program that rightly deserves even Alfie Kohn's harshest criticism.