Your best employees are likely motivated by more than just money. That’s not to say they don’t care how much they’re paid or whether they have a good pension and benefits program. But sustained commitment to high performance takes more than monetary rewards. To succeed in a high-performance environment, today’s organizations need to figure out how to tap into the intrinsic motivators of their people.

Of course, individuals have different intrinsic motivators, whether it’s the satisfaction of contributing to the greater good or pride in great craftsmanship. But intrinsic motivation almost always has an emotional component—and making that emotional connection is where successful organizations excel.

It begins with the following:

  • an emotionally compelling vision for the organization;
  • a clear line of sight to help employees understand how their personal actions support that vision; and
  • embedded policies, practices and procedures to make it happen.

Read: Where’s the love in your workplace?

It means embracing a holistic approach to the employment relationship—one that promotes a comprehensive understanding of what it means to work for your organization. One of the best ways to put this into practice is to get employees to think in terms of their total rewards.

Don’t confuse total rewards with total compensation
A total compensation approach focuses on the financial rewards of the employment deal. These are the tangibles—they can be measured and added together to give a dollar value. This dollar value is important to communicate because employees consistently underestimate it. On its own, total compensation offers a one-dimensional view of the employment relationship.

On the other hand, total rewards present a more inclusive perspective. It goes beyond monetary benefits and recognizes the intangibles that are often the most critical factor in driving performance. It provides a structure that allows you to show how your organization’s culture and aspirations (your internal brand) shape your employees’ work experience.

Read: Your pension plan is a big deal—so promote it!

One of the best tools available to bring this all together is a total rewards statement. Statements naturally attract and hold employees’ attention because it’s all about them. Multiple studies show personalized statements to be among the most trusted forms of communication.

In addition to showing the personal dollar value of pay and benefits, a well-conceived total rewards statement will overlay information on the other things your organization offers that are important to the employee experience, such as the following:

  • your mission and values, and how these will help guide efforts in the year ahead;
  • culture and workplace;
  • development opportunities, achievement and recognition; and
  • quality of life and work-life resources.

Read: Why communicating benefits costs pays off

Knowing that different age cohorts tend to have different priorities—and motivators—you may even consider varying the message to address the diverse needs and wants of multiple generations of workers. Your youngest employees may be motivated by a good mix of social interaction and a stimulating work environment. The 30- and 40-year-olds may perform at their best when they can balance family time and career development. And boomers may be driven by a chance to leave their mark on your organization through leadership or mentorship opportunities.

Done well, your total rewards statements will identify and promote the non-monetary benefits that resonate most with your employees at the gut level—and help drive intrinsically motivated discretionary effort. After all, isn’t that what employee engagement is all about?

Susan Deller is a principal with Eckler Ltd. and specializes in benefits communications consulting.

These are the views of the author and not necessarily those of Benefits Canada.

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

Join us on Twitter

See all comments Recent Comments

David McArthur:

Thanks Susan – another great article highlighting the importance of communications.

Too many employers here in Canada, and across the globe, see employee communications as something they “have to do” rather than something they “want to do”. However when you compare company cultures, employee retention and employee satisfaction it quickly becomes clear how much a company benefits from a well thought out and developed communication strategy.

Thanks again,

David McArthur

Tuesday, March 10 at 4:29 pm | Reply

Add a comment

Have your say on this topic! Comments that are thought to be disrespectful or offensive may be removed by our Benefits Canada admins. Thanks!

* These fields are required.
Field required
Field required
Field required