Written by
Ruth Thomas
Industry Principal, Curo.

24 June 2019


Landing late last night from the 10th Total C&B seminar in Amsterdam, it was great to reflect on the experiences from a packed two days. I was delighted to be co-chairing the event with Peter Newhouse, Global Head of Reward for Unilever, which saw over 100 reward leaders gather to share new ideas and trends.  As with most conferences, I did not actually get to leave the venue and see anything of Amsterdam, so Tulips, Windmills and Anne Frank’s house will have to wait for another trip. But while in the venue we were taken on a virtual tour of Europe with speakers from Finland, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Switzerland.

Many of the sessions were delivered by reward practitioners from companies including Pandora, Reckitt Benckiser, Herbalife, Telefoncia and Avalog sharing their experiences of redefining reward against a new agile business landscape where organizations are reshaping and the workforce is becoming more diverse.  How do you redefine performance related pay when performance rating systems and annual reviews are no longer relevant?  There is no blueprint any more, and I was struck by the creativity as each organization focused on aligning their new reward practices with their company’s unique strategy, culture and values.

I really enjoyed hearing Gregor Loetsch from SOS Children‘s Villages International, the largest non-governmental, nonprofit international development organization headquartered in Innsbruck, Austria explain his journey to redefine job levelling and benchmarking in a unique environment where their most critical job role, the “SOS” parent or caregiver does not exist elsewhere. Definitely some blue sky thinking required!

We are talking in next week’s best practice webinar about trends that may change the way we manage compensation, and it was fascinating to hear Unilever and Roche recount their first experiences of introducing personalization into reward. We are no longer just talking about flexing between salary and benefits but between salary, incentives, LTIP and benefits, so great to see this starting to creep into real world practice.  

Our two key note speakers were Tom Haak founder and director of The HR Trend Institute who focused on HR Trends Implications for Reward.  His collection of career journey images  which he plans to include in his Museum of HR (planned opening in 2022), highlighted how we often don’t consider the real impact of visual communication which dovetailed nicely with Prof Dr Xavier Baeten’s session from the Vlerick Business School. He shared his body of research on Reward Communication which highlighted in a world of increasing complexity in compensation the need to communicate simply, and personally to employees was critical.

So what I lacked in typical Amsterdam experiences (!) was more than made up for in the reward tales shared and the realization that one competency every reward person needs in their kit back right now is creativity, well that and of course a data scientist!.