The world of work is experiencing unique environmental circumstances but the challenges are the same as they always were. How do you attract new talent? And how do you retain the talent you have?

While the challenges are the same, the solutions have evolved. No longer can you simply offer a big pay check. Even if you’re able to offer more than market value for the role you’re hiring for, there is still internal equity to consider. Remember also that money isn’t the only thing people are looking for when considering joining your company.

In this 3-part series, we’re going to explore the total rewards programme and how you can attract and retain top talent.

Simply offering more money isn’t enough, if it’s even possible. Organisations are being forced to get creative about their compensation plans. The unfortunate reality is, compensation is so complex that very few HR leaders have a full grasp of how it works.

So, here’s a short guide to compensation and the areas you can affect to creatively motivate talent.


Base Pay

Base pay is the guaranteed wages or salary you offer your employees. Your organisation may be able to offer a base pay that reflects the median of what the market pays for the same role. In that case, you can probably look at other areas of total rewards to motivate employees.

But if your base pay offering is on the lower end or you have other reasons for not offering a higher amount, you’ll need to create other opportunities and focus on the total rewards.


Variable Pay

Variable pay can come in the form of (quarterly) commissions, bonuses, profit sharing. For sales people, this sort of pay is the norm. The direct correlation between their accomplishments and their rewards motivates sales professionals.

But there can also be an advantage to offering variable pay for other roles in the organisation. Traditionally, professional and managerial employees were eligible for annual bonuses. However, the vast majority of companies are now offering bonuses to all employee groups.


Incentive Programmes

These are short-term incentives (STI) that can shake things up in your organisation. Monetary rewards are motivating provided they are linked to specific goals. Organisational goals are cascaded to every employee and employees can see how their daily actions link back to the company’s success. STI programmes usually run over a 1-year period.

Long-term incentive programmes (LTIP) have a longer and more strategic focus. LTIP was historically offered to executives and senior managers. In recent times, senior individual contributors and key talent have also been included in the group of eligible programme participants. Companies want to retain these employees and vest them more in the organisational success.



In parts of the world, for example in the Middle East, it’s customary to also offer allowances on top of base pay. Housing and transportation allowances are amongst the most common ones. However, certain industries may also provide meal and uniform allowances.

Allowances may be paid as a percentage of base pay or a fixed amount based on the employee’s band or level.

For organisations, allowances can be extremely useful. Depending on the company’s plan, base pay may be the basis when calculating commissions, bonuses, STI or LTIP. In the Middle East, similarly, end-of-service benefits include base pay only.


Premium Pay

If you’re hiring for roles that require specialised skills or unique working conditions, you may consider offering premium pay on top of base pay. Recognising the exceptional effort or skills the candidate is bringing can make them feel appreciated and respected.


Communicate Your Compensation Plan

Regardless of the compensation plan you create, you’ll need to clearly inform your employees of what to expect. Creating and meeting expectations is one of the simplest and most effective ways to create a positive environment at work—and all it takes is good communication.

Creating a compensation plan is a much more complex process than it seems. If you are planning to dive into this process alone, let us support you. We can help you navigate these waters and design an attractive offer that will bring in (and keep) great talent.

Contact us today.