The importance of a well-constructed reward strategy should not be underestimated. When an employee’s contribution is recognised, not only will team morale and productivity be much higher, but brand reputation will be boosted for both clients and potential new employees and you will be able to retain the best talent. However, when crafting and implementing your reward strategy it’s important to place inclusivity at the forefront. It can be easy to think you are being fair to all when really unconscious biases are skewing your judgement, or processes may actually only reward those who are always willing to speak up about their successes. There are many specialist organisations that can assist you with the creation of a reward strategy however not all organisations have the ability to make such an investment,  so here are some factors that you can include in your reward strategy to ensure every aspect is inclusive and offers everyone the same opportunities.

We caught up with Teresa Boughey MA, Chartered FCIPD –  CEO of award-winning Jungle HR to understand her view. Teresa works with Executive Boards and Leadership Teams during times of change and business transformations and is a UK Female Entrepreneur Ambassador and a member of the Women and Enterprise, and Women and Work APPG. Teresa’s revolutionary new book Closing the Gap – 5 steps to creating an Inclusive Culture is perfect for any business professional at any stage of their inclusivity journey.

Consider where you are now

It can be difficult to know where to begin when creating your reward strategy, but the best first step is to take stock of where you are currently. In order to ensure you remain current and competitive it’s vital to always be open to revising your approach. An inclusive reward strategy will not only benefit your current talent but may also be the deciding factor for speculative candidates.


Start by gathering together your current people data paying particular attention to employees and their pay and benefits.  Ensure that the data you gather can be segregated.  This is a vital step for measurement and transparency.  Being able to comprehensively review your pay proposition will assist you in identifying whether there are wider intersectional gaps.


If you have pay bands/grades within your organisation explore whether employees know what they are and understand how to progress within these structures. It is important to ensure that any pay and grading system you choose to implement is consistently and transparently applied across the board.  You may also wish to undertake an external benchmarking exercise as this can help to ensure that your pay structures are competitive within the job market.


Benefits can take many forms, and these should also form part of your review.  Salary sacrifice schemes such as childcare vouchers, healthcare cashback schemes or cycling to work programs can be great additions to your reward strategy. It’s important however to take stock who is currently taking up these benefits?  Do all employees know about these schemes and understand how they can be accessed?  It’s also important to seek opinion from the workforce as to what additional benefits they would like and explore how these could be added.


It’s not unusual for organisations to have specific entry points for when benefits can be accessed such as when and employee initially joins an organisation, or when they have attained a specific hierarchical level.  Reviewing when these entry points are should also form part of your review to ensure that access to such benefits are inclusive and transparent.

Also explore areas such as working patterns as part of your reward strategy review.  What are your flexible working provisions, are they open to everyone or do you have in place specific criteria which needs to be satisfied in order to be eligible?   What is your company’s position on maternity and paternity provisions?  Does your company have in place wider policies and benefit arrangements to reflect modern day life?


Taking stock is such an important first step.   You may be pleasantly surprised that in some areas your reward strategy is working well for you, however it may also highlight that it’s not inclusive in which case it’s time to use this as a starting place for change.


What’s your scope?

When implementing a reward strategy, it’s not unusual for an organisation to focus upon its directly employed workforce, however as the gig economy is on the rise, many businesses are opting to work with freelancers, temporary workers or associates who are on hand to assist when needed.   Not only is it important to ensure these individuals feel valued for the service they offer, but the way in which you reward them could also have an impact on whether your organisation secures future business tenders. It is becoming increasingly common for tenders to factor into their decision making process their approach to remuneration when it comes to third-parties (who are often the ones delivering the contract/service).  For example, offering the living wage, not just the minimum wage.   Demonstrating your commitment to ensuring your people are looked after is important when it comes to organisational reputation as its beneficial to be known as an organiation that treats its people fairly.


You should also consider how you reward those individuals involved in programs such as internships, apprenticeships and return to work programs.    Opening up opportunities and making it accessible for them to join your organisation can provide your company with a richness of talent.


Don’t silence salary conversations


Whilst many company policies and employment contracts have clauses to stop employees from discussing salaries, there are many instances where employees to do opt to discuss what they earn. If salaries are not published alongside job adverts, prospective employees will try to gauge this themselves and research demonstrates that at the time of appointment, men are more likely to negotiate a higher salary as opposed to women who tend to be more reserved.


If salary information and grading systems are made transparent on job adverts and to employees, it makes it much more difficult for organisations to pay different amounts for similar roles.


Pay Awards                                                                

It is vital that you pay adequate attention to the process of when and how you issue pay awards.


Some organisations may be governed by formal union agreements in this regard, however if your organisation is not, then you have a prime chance to review your processes to make sure they cater for everyone fairly.


There are many different ways you can choose to operate pay awards  – some organisations will opt for a standard percentage increase for everyone annually, others might choose a ‘salary pot’ option in which money is shared with those in a certain department, or some opt for salary increases on employment anniversaries. Whichever approach you decide to take, ensure it is applied consistently and look to see if you can uncover any biases which may impact on award decisions which are made.


Sometimes organisations choose to link their pay awards with employee performance.  This however can open you up to biased decision-making if there is not balanced adjudication or assessment criteria put in place. Ensure that you retain a broad view of what ‘employee performance’ means so you can gain a wide set of opinions before issuing this form of reward, considering both task-performance but also behavior. Behaviour plays an integral part in creating an inclusive culture, so it is important that this is a factor in who you choose to allocate pay rewards.


There isn’t strictly a right or wrong approach for paying and rewarding your people – however you do need to ensure that you sit the right side of employment legislation.    I would however encourage you to think beyond compliance and consider your reward strategy as a tool which will help you enhance you brand and reputation.  It will help you to attract not only the best but the widest possible talent and will set you apart from your competitors.