Article: How to tailor rewards for a diverse and multigenerational workforce in a remote setting

Benefits & Rewards

How to tailor rewards for a diverse and multigenerational workforce in a remote setting

Emphasising the importance of not only nurturing employees' mental, physical, and emotional health but also attending to their financial welfare can position organisations at the forefront of the evolving landscape, advised the Chief People Officer at Eventbrite.
How to tailor rewards for a diverse and multigenerational workforce in a remote setting

In recent years, the landscape of work has undergone a profound transformation, propelled by advancements in technology and shifting attitudes towards workplace flexibility. One of the most notable manifestations of this evolution is the rise of remote work. For many, the ability to work remotely represents a significant reward, offering unprecedented freedom, flexibility, and autonomy. Freed from the constraints of traditional office spaces and commutes, remote workers can craft their schedules, tailor their environments, and strike a more harmonious balance between their personal and professional lives.

Yet, despite its allure, remote work presents a unique set of challenges, particularly when it comes to maintaining employee satisfaction and well-being. While the flexibility of remote work can be empowering, it can also blur the boundaries between work and home life, leading to issues of burnout, isolation, and disengagement. Without the physical presence of coworkers and the structure of a shared office space, remote workers may struggle to connect with their colleagues, collaborate effectively, and cultivate a sense of belonging within their organisations.

The challenges associated with remote work transcend social dynamics, encompassing aspects such as communication, productivity, and performance management. For employers, this poses a distinct challenge in catering to a diverse and multigenerational workforce. Moreover, many grapple with the task of effectively rewarding their employees, tailored to individual preferences. To delve into this issue, we engaged in a discussion with John Adcock, Chief People Officer at Eventbrite.

In an exclusive interview with People Matters, Adcock underscored the significance of proactively addressing the unique needs and concerns of remote employees. He elaborated on how organisations can navigate these challenges by implementing strategies that prioritise communication, collaboration, and connection, ultimately fostering a sense of belonging and mitigating feelings of isolation among their remote workforce.

Excerpts from the interview: 

Could you share your insights on the conventional markers used for rewarding employees, and how have these evolved in response to the changing dynamics of the workplace, especially in a remote setting?

First off we all work for a variety of reasons but compensation is obviously an enduring aspect of work. While there are moments that certain benefits move up and down - paying fairly is job one. After your team feels like their compensation is fair you look at other rewards to differentiate yourself as well as align to business needs. 

The most traditional generations were typically driven by extrinsic motivators such as financial stability and security; hence, prestigious job titles, office space size, promotions, high levels of responsibility, perks, and appreciation were of foremost importance to them.

In the ever-evolving landscape of the modern workplace, the voice of employees is stronger than ever. Employee centric companies have often provided greater autonomy, flexibility, growth, well-being, and purpose in the face of the fierce competition to recruit and retain people. It is great to see these practices expanding beyond progressive companies. 

Speaking of how rewards have changed over time, we are annually looking at the usage of our benefits and the appreciation of the various compensation tools. The value of each of these vary greatly across the company based on life stage, geography, and many other factors. We do our best to offer varied and flexible pathways to support  a diverse workforce to access and customise their rewards.

With the shift towards remote work, how do you navigate the diverse expectations and preferences of employees from different generations regarding rewards and recognition?

Despite the variations in traits and expectations that a multigenerational workforce brings: they all have the same basic desires to be seen, heard, respected, valued, and appreciated. Therefore it can be unrealistic to slot people based solely on a set of characteristics. This is why we use a variety of "listening methods" to continuously assess the pulse of employees across generations, keep an eye out for emerging trends, and periodically review programmes and policies to include new ideas. Specifically we use quarterly engagement surveys, empathy interviews, non-HR team members on project teams, and managers as testors for prototypes of our solutions. 

Millennials make up the majority of our remote workforce across the globe, and understanding how to effectively reward and recognise them is paramount for us. There are a slew of benefits that specifically cater to common themes related to this group. We want to meet their expectations on work life balance, flexibility, wellness and purpose that go beyond a transactional employer-employee relationship: 

Flexible workplace – coming out of the global pandemic – during which all of our offices had been closed – we had already decided to give Britelings (the nickname for our employees) the flexibility to work in one of our hubs, be fully remote, or take advantage of the best of both worlds. Our highest rated item on our quarterly engagement survey is our Flexible work offering coming in at 9.8 on a 10 point scale. 

One additional recharge day per month – we designate the first Friday of every month as a holiday for Britelings to repurpose that time in a way that works for them, from completely unplugging to spend time with family or venture into the great outdoors to focused time to catch up on their passions or hobbies. We call these days ‘BriteBreaks’ and they are one of a kind in the industry.

Time off to work in the community – Our global CETO (Community Engagement Time Off) encourages Britelings to take paid time off for any activity that gives them a sense of purpose.  Another enhancement to our Total Rewards program was the expansion of our Annual Incentive Plan to all Britelings not already on another incentive plan that creates opportunities for exceptional pay for delivering exceptional results.  

Mental & Physical health support – We offer mental health programs through our partner Modern Health, as well as an annual wellness reimbursement for yoga classes, gym memberships, sports equipment and much more. According to a Deloitte Global 2023 Gen Z and Millennial survey, four out of ten millennials (39%) and nearly half of Gen Zers (46%) say they experience stress or anxiety at work all or most of the time. The Gen Zs, who make up roughly 25% of our remote workers in India and less than 10% of our global workforce, have been especially receptive to this offering from Eventbrite. 

Leadership training – We’ve had many Britelings take advantage of the McKinsey's Leadership Essentials Program we provide,  and the New Level Work leadership platform (previously Better Manager), in addition to free access to 150,000 courses on Udemy, an online learning and teaching platform. 

Rewards system – WorkTango, our employee recognition platform, has to a certain extent gamified rewards. Leaders and employees can award points to each other, which can then be redeemed to purchase gadgets, travel luggage, kitchen machines, and more via our partner Benefithub. This appeals to the instant gratification expectations of the younger workforce. 

Financial advice – In order to help both the Millennials and the Gen Zs plan their financial future or tackle distinct financial challenges, we offer personalised financial planning solutions through Origin.

Can you discuss the human-cantered design approach you employ to democratise total rewards in your organization, ensuring inclusivity and fairness for all employees, regardless of their background or location?

I have been listening to the book ‘A World Without Email’ by Cal Newport. In this he discusses how the  Ford Company started experimenting with an assembly line 15 years after cars were being made by hand. It took him and his team five more years of experimentation to start having success. Our new way of work needed and still needs the same spirit of experimentation to address all of the newness we were facing. 

In the last couple of years, we have had the opportunity to reimagine how we work in order to drive the best outcomes for our business and each other through the launch of a Human-Centered Design project. By viewing Britelings as end-users and including them in the process not only helped us better understand people’s needs, motivations, and concerns, but also made way for a more flexible design process.  While we factor in the geographic and cultural nuances to personalize rewards, we are quite mindful of creating equitable employee experiences for all Britelings to make sure they feel like they belong.  

In line with our public commitment to reaching 50:50 gender equality, our annual pay audits help to ensure equitable compensation and advancement opportunities for all Britelings, especially those who are female and from ethnically underrepresented backgrounds. Apart from the creche and child care reimbursements, we also provide equal access to inclusive, evidence-based fertility and family-forming care through Carrot. 

CeleBRITE Monday is a fairly new initiative that encourages Britelings to celebrate their colleagues who’ve made a difference in their previous week. From all of the names mentioned that week, a randomiser selects five winners who will be awarded  2000 WorkTango points. This is another way we democratize rewards, since there’s nothing too big or too small for our people to celebrate and it encourages everyone to be a part of it, regardless of their role, tenure or size of achievements.

The Make It Happen Spirit Award is another global employee recognition program based on open nominations that is designed to recognize Britelings from across the company with a spot bonus of $2500 (or local equivalent) for making a significant, positive impact on the business. It's interesting to note that our team in Australia chose to give this award a local spin by creating the "Golden Lobster Award" in memory of an office that was once close to a fresh food market in the region.

One of the advantages of the human cantered design is that every Briteling has an opportunity to be a part of this process. Engaging early with Britelings and seeking their input and feedback, not only helped to gain valuable insights but also helped to pivot early and avoid steering resources in the wrong direction  It also allows us to solve the challenge for Britelings rather than copying a solution from another company that an exec read about in the news.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your rewards and recognition initiatives in driving employee engagement, retention, and overall satisfaction, particularly in a remote work environment?

In 2023, we pushed towards pay transparency by sharing our employee’s compa-ratio. We wanted our team to understand how we build our ranges and where they fall in that. It is an ongoing effort and the team appreciates our approach. It ensures we are doing a good job paying competitively in all of our locations.

To determine whether our employee benefits are on point, we also use Peakon, a powerful survey platform that converts confidential employees feedback into insights that leaders can put to work to create a more responsive, fulfilling, and productive workplace. Focus groups, Q & A sessions, Stay interviews, Performance Evaluation surveys, and 1-1 check ins provide us the opportunity to understand our Britelings holistically to get further insight into why people don’t engage with certain benefits and what makes certain benefits tick.

We also consider metrics related to employee behaviour, retention, engagement, productivity, and performance that are connected to KPIs/OKRs, as well as employee involvement in the rewards and recognition (R&R) platform and budget utilization for rewards, among other things. 

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Looking ahead, what do you envision as the future of rewards and recognition in remote settings, and how do you plan to adapt your strategies to meet the evolving needs of your diverse workforce?

As remote work continues to reshape the future of work, companies are expanding their overall reward strategies beyond traditional benefit and pay plans to include a more personalised and inclusive rewards program driven by technology and a wider range of employee value propositions (EVPs). Continued flexibility remains key: Companies need to be open in listening to their team and willing to repurpose their rewards portfolio to better suit the changing needs of various employee groups and eliminate any initiatives that are not relevant.

With a keen focus on supporting not just the mental, physical, and emotional health of our employees but also their financial well-being, we are trying to stay ahead of the transformation curve by offering a holistic and comprehensive benefits package that is meticulously designed to encompass all dimensions of health and wellness, ensuring our employees have the resources and support they need to thrive in all aspects of life. 

As we continue to explore new and innovative ways to make the future of work meet the needs of our geographically dispersed remote teams, we focus on building what makes sense for Eventbrite and its people rather than following the crowd and hoping it works. 

While coupons for coworking spaces could be alluring to an individual working from a tier 2 city, our monthly remote work stipend can be helpful for an employee from a small town to set up a fully-fledged remote office and cover ongoing expenses. We see personalisation, wellbeing, technology and inclusion as key to future-fit rewards programs in a remote-forward world where every employee can influence their rewards experience. 

This holistic approach ensures that our employees have the resources they need to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle which in turn will super-charge their capabilities to help them thrive and excel in a remote work environment.

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Topics: Benefits & Rewards, #RemoteWork, #HRTech, #HRCommunity

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