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The Future of Total Rewards: Flexibility to Attract and Keep Talent

SHRM specialty credential teaches HR pros how to overcome Great Resignation woes

Shrm total rewards speciality.

​The Great Resignation, today's turnover crisis, is one of the many long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why are U.S. workers searching for new jobs? Here are their top three reasons, according to SHRM's research survey, Surviving the Great Resignation: better compensation (53 percent), better work/life balance (42 percent) and better benefits (36 percent). Meanwhile, U.S. executives think that workers' top three reasons are: better benefits (28 percent), better career advancement opportunities (28 percent) and discomfort in the workplace due to COVID-19 (26 percent).

These responses are a reminder of the importance of total rewards (TR). For an organization to maintain its competitive advantage, it needs to have a comprehensive and creative TR strategy—one that focuses on more than compensation alone.

Because TR is a data-driven field, some people find TR to be intimidating. But we present two experts, Dr. Ifedapo Adeleye, SHRM-SCP, and Keren Maldonado, SHRM-SCP, CCP, who break down what makes TR seem scary and how you can build specialized knowledge in this critical area. Adeleye is a management professor at Georgetown University with HR and TR expertise spanning a range of industries over 15 years. Maldonado is SHRM's director of total rewards with over two decades as a TR specialist in local and global markets.

Building Knowledge of Total Rewards—and Its Future

TR is all about finding the perfect balance between supporting employees' needs and wants in an affordable, competitive and attractive way. Understanding TR starts with understanding the employee experience.

For employees to thrive, Maldonado says, the organization must ensure that employees' needs are met. By meeting their needs, the organization gets their best performance and retains its workforce.

The "hierarchy of needs" model developed by 20th century psychologist Abraham Maslow is illustrative. The need for self-fulfillment—achieving one's full potential, especially through creativity and problem-solving—is at the top of the pyramid. It is reached only when one's more foundational needs are met: the basic (physiology, safety) and the psychological (love/belonging, esteem).

In the workplace, employees' needs are met through the organization's TR package. Thus, the employee experience is driven by TR, and creating a fulfilling employee experience is fundamental to what HR does.

The pandemic has driven the profession to rethink TR, Adeleye says. The general trend is that employees are no longer accepting the status quo. They require more equitable workplaces; otherwise, they'll leave. For employees to stay, flexibility in TR must be here to stay, too. For TR's future, flexibility must continue to expand and evolve.

Maldonado envisions employees with personalized, customized TR packages that will evolve throughout their lives and careers; she also sees changing solutions for remote workers. Adeleye agrees and expects innovation in such areas as service delivery and real-time pay. Customization of benefits also brings additional factors into consideration, including remote worker locations, tax implications and pay differences.

The SHRM Total Rewards Specialty Credential

Total Rewards is one of the functional areas of HR knowledge described in the SHRM Body of Applied Skills and Knowledge™, the foundation of SHRM certification. To make effective use of TR, an HR professional doesn't have to be SHRM-certified or an expert, but he or she should know enough about compensation and benefits to consider them in a holistic manner.

TR can help HR professionals Cause the Effect they want within their organizations. To give them the confidence, knowledge and credibility to do so, SHRM has developed a unique learning experience, the SHRM Total Rewards Specialty Credential (TRSC).

Through a lens of compensation, benefits and rewards, SHRM's TRSC curriculum encompasses issues from the basics through the totality of the employee experience. It starts with a foundation on TR strategy, then moves on to modern areas of focus such as flexibility; compliance; outsourcing of solutions; diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) practices; and more. Learners discover how to strike a balance between what the business wants and what employees prefer.

HR generalists, departments of one and business partners, as well as talent acquisition professionals, people managers and those who work closely with business functions, all would benefit from earning the TRSC.

SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP credential-holders who earn the TRSC get an added bonus: 21 professional development credits (PDCs) toward recertification.

We recommend that you earn the SHRM Total Rewards Specialty Credential before the future of TR passes you by.

Carolyn Barley is lead, instructional design, education programs at SHRM. Liz Lacey is SHRM's director of education programs.


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