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2020 Priorities for Total Rewards Leaders: Talent Development, Technology, and Total Compensation

Predicting what lies ahead for your business is always a tricky proposition. Never has that been truer than right now, when business leaders find themselves in an environment of frequent, almost constant disruption—an environment in which an organization’s priorities seem to shift by the second.  

All that said, we asked the group of business leaders who comprise the Institute for Corporate Productivity’s (i4cp) Total Rewards Board to take a shot at forecasting 2020, and to share the rewards-related issues they see as most pressing in the year ahead.  

Generally, the priorities of the 19 rewards leaders who comprise this group fit into one of five categories:  

  • Talent issues
  • Careers, opportunity, growth
  • Technology, operations, support
  • Competitive pay
  • Benefits and well-being 

Let’s start with talent—as the adage goes, people are any company’s most important asset, right? Among the members of our Total Rewards Board, taking a larger role in managing talent succession and business changes continues to take precedence.  

For example, members of the group cited determining how to best provide retentive vehicles for key players and creating development models that align with career progression among their biggest areas of focus for 2020.  

With respect to careers, opportunity, and growth, succession planning for CEO and staff is a critical 2020 concern as well (i4cp has also identified succession management as an area of interest for the upcoming year; we’ll be fielding a survey on the subject early in 2020).  

Organizations are placing emphasis on cultivating the next generation of leaders at the manager level as well.  

“We need to upskill managers to be ‘people growers,’ not just allocators of work,” one board member told i4cp. “We need leaders, not supervisors.” 

On the career growth front, the organizations represented on our board are also concentrating on identifying and acquiring specific skills in tech, moving away from performance ratings, and putting feedback and development at the heart of the employee experience. 

In terms of technology, operations, and support, Total Rewards Board members have identified a number of priorities for the year ahead. These include supporting talent architecture and developing stronger analytics and dashboards to help understand their employee populations, spot trends, and optimize total rewards spend.  

The same can be said for competitive pay. Total rewards leaders cited several compensation-related issues as being top-of-mind at the close of 2019, such as ensuring compensation is not a factor in attrition, striving for continual pay equity, and aligning total rewards to a new operating model. Others seek to improve communication efforts around compensation.  

“[We want to] increase employee understanding of our compensation programs, from executives down to hourly plant employees,” says one board member. “There’s a huge opportunity there.” 

Finally, various board members cited benefits and well-being as another area to which they will be dedicating significant energy in 2020. This includes managing healthcare costs, of course, along with conducting a benefit plan analysis, educating employees on benefit plans, enhancing well-being initiatives, and offering programs and practices that allow employees to “spend like they own it,” as the cost pressures on employers are only increasing.