How We Can Relook At Employee Compensation And Benefits In Talent Management

Aug 23, 2016 1 Min Read

The Olympics has just ended. In this greatest show on earth, we see only the best athletes from around the world competing against each other to win the coveted Olympics medal.

You hear of their stories of sacrifice and hardwork to be on the world stage to win for their country. In return of their win, Olympic medalists are usually rewarded by their country with cash incentives, scholarship, recognition and retirement benefits.

For example, Hidilyn Diaz, the silver medallist for weightlifting who broke the Philippines’ 20-year medal drought is set to receive 5mil pesos for her achievement, plus other lifetime perks.

What’s in it for me?

In an employment relationship, benefits make up a vital component to provide employees with monetary rewards, access to wellness programmes and support to work-life integration.

As we understand today, benefits go beyond monetary rewards. Many highflyers leave the comfort and luxury of their high-paying position to do something more fulfilling and meaningful in small enterprises with big missions to impact the society.

The recently concluded Employee Benefits Asia 2016 conference (Aug 17–18) by HumanResources saw human resources (HR) leaders from different organisations in Malaysia coming together to share ideas and best practices on benefits management.

It was a platform where organisational leaders congregate to stay abreast with compensation and benefits trends and be equipped with strategies to design, deliver and communicate these programmes effectively.

Here are three takeaways I gathered from the conference.

1. Start with what you have. You might just find some gems in your own backyard.

No doubt, benefits programme may be one of the largest investments an organisation makes in its talents. It is challenging in today’s business landscape when leaders want to see a justifiable return on their investment by operating within the total rewards framework.

Sow Chat Gan Honeywell


Gan Sow Chat, Asia Pacific benefits director of Honeywell, recommends that we start by looking at our inventory of benefits. Are those benefits still relevant? Or can they be tweaked differently to reflect something more forward-looking?

Do we really need a company-wide annual dinner where people come together and be entertained for the night, or can we do our own creative funding to celebrate successes at a smaller scale while raising funds for a social cause we believe in?

2. Seriously, please listen and take your people’s feedback real seriously.

It’s common sense that one size doesn’t fit all. A benefits programme that works for a multinational company may not work for a small and medium-sized enterprise. Similarly, what works for a telecommunications company may not work for a music company.

Organisational leaders need to be in the field and understand what motivates and excites their employees to come to work. Make yourselves accessible and engage with your people with compassion and genuine care.

Through employee surveys and feedback, leaders need to communicate the next actionable steps as follow-ups to see improvements take place. Don’t keep them in the dark as employees would rather hear your authenticity and honesty than your silence.

After listening to your people, take concerted efforts to be creative in designing benefit plans for them.

Kenny Ong Universal Music Msia Spore


Kenny Ong, managing director of Universal Music Malaysia and Singapore, shares on the company’s chaperon programme, where his employees get to accompany concert tickets winners and enjoy the privilege of meeting artists from all around the world.

3. Spread some love, be more generous in affirming your people, and celebrate!

Studies have shown that it’s human nature to attune ourselves more to negativity than positivity, and this applies in the working world.

We may all be guilty of reprimanding people for making mistakes more easily than recognising people for doing right. Inevitably, we are often remembered for the screw-ups than the great work we do – more so in Asia where words of affirmation are not so easily exchanged.

Christopher Ong DHL Express


In this context, Christopher Ong, managing director of DHL Express for Malaysia and Brunei, says that leaders need to learn how to manage consequences and catch people doing right. And when they are rewarded for their excellent behaviour, tell them why they deserve it.



Adnan Lee, managing director of MBG FruitShop Sdn Bhd, does it this way: He rallies his people to improve one per cent of themselves daily. This is what Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer wrote about in The Progress Principle. This principle uses small wins to engage creativity and ignite joy at work to continually foster progress and enhance meaning in our work.

Food for thought

Compensation and benefits are an integral part of HR strategy where if reward programmes are designed and executed effectively, can be leveraged to the organisation’s advantage to attract, retain and engage talents.

Having a competitive package sets your organisation apart from the rest, and it helps build a compelling employee and stakeholder value proposition.

More importantly, a holistic total rewards programme offer powerful intrinsic motivators such as positive culture and work experience that spur people to go the extra mile for the organisation to achieve personal and business objectives.

Cafeteria plans for Malaysian-based organisations, anyone?

Leaderonomics is a media partner with HumanResources for this conference. How are you going to do things differently in the near future when it comes to employee compensation and benefits? Share with us some of your thoughts at To check out our “HR for Non-HR” programme to understand the total HR spectrum, email us at For more HR Talk articles, click here.

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Lay Hsuan was part of the content curation team for, playing the role of a content gatekeeper as well as ensuring the integrity of stories that came in. She was an occasional writer for the team and was previously the caretaker for Leaderonomics social media channels. She is still happiest when you leave comments on the website, or subscribe to Leader's Digest, or share Leaderonomics content on social media.

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