Overlooking compensation’s role in corporate culture could cost you


Christy Robinson

Director Global GTM Total Rewards and Workforce Management

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It was my first job out of college, second round of interviews. The interviewer asked: “What’s important to you in your job?”, my answer: “It’s not about the money…” and before I could continue, the interviewer interrupted me with laughter and disbelief.

Looking back on that moment I can’t help but think that my very much younger self may have been on to something, not to mention the immediate laughter from the interviewer should have been a red flag. Let’s just say I didn’t stay at that job for long!

We would be fooling ourselves if we thought employees didn’t consider money an important part of their job. In a recent poll by Gallup 64% of survey respondents said that a significant increase in income or benefits would be an important factor in accepting a job elsewhere1. However, those of us that have been in the workplace for any length of time know how miserable we would be if we were just showing up every day to collect a paycheck.

Numerous studies have shown the correlation between the culture of an organization and it’s positive (or negative) impact on revenue. When an organization develops their compensation strategy or creates new compensation plans, how those align to and reinforce the corporate culture should not be overlooked. In this new world of work a focus on employee experience, digital transformation and transparency are top of mind in organizations building a high-performance culture. Let’s take a closer look at why and how compensation should be taken into consideration in these key areas.


Employee Experience

When creating a new compensation plan or gearing up for that next compensation cycle, it’s important to think about how employees will experience this new plan or process. A tremendous amount of time and energy is spent on the calculation, budget, metrics, etc., which are important, but what about the long-term effects? Long after the money is awarded and spent did it align with corporate culture and drive the right behaviors? Getting employee and manager feedback on compensation plans and processes and incorporating that feedback into the compensation strategy is key to achieving a great experience.

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is a foundational change in how an organization delivers value to its customers2. For HR it’s the employees, managers, etc. who are the customers. While compensation plans and processes look great on paper, their full value will not be realized if employees and managers are not given the tools and resources to effectively carry out these plans and processes. It is through these tools and resources that HR delivers value to the customer which is why it’s important for HR to take this into consideration as part of the compensation strategy.



Internet, social media, technology, etc. have created high levels of transparency in today’s world. The same level of transparency expectation is spilling into the workplace with an understanding there will be limits. When it comes to transparency in compensation, basic tasks like being able to view one’s salary, communicating and understanding how decisions are made in a planning cycle, what metrics are used in the bonus calculation, etc. should be easily accessible and understood by employees and managers. Having these levels of transparency in place creates security and confidence which is critical to a high performing culture.

Is money important to employees in their job? Absolutely! But if it’s not backed by and delivered with a positive employee experience, through effective tools and resources, and with a basic level of transparency, the money will only go so far in creating a high performing culture and increased revenue. So, when you begin planning for that next compensation cycle or think about changing or creating new compensation plans don’t overlook the alignment with corporate culture, it could cost you.

For further information on how SAP solutions can support your total compensation management strategy, visit us online.

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