A case of ‘give them what they want’?

Executive Compensation & Benefits Summit – Brussels 13th and 14th September
European Networking Group

As I have done in previous years, in September I chaired the second day of ENG’s Executive Compensation & Benefits Conference 2022 in Brussels. It is a privilege, and always a great pleasure, to meet new colleagues and old acquaintances.

With few exceptions, almost all speakers and delegates attended in-person. Compared with the on-line ‘hybrid’ variety of conference - a requirement during the pandemic - it is fascinating to experience just how much more effective such face-to-face meetings can be.

Importantly, this is a central and rather important fact of life.

Every company represented at this meeting is large, by most standards, as well as being broadly global in some way. That makes their views important because each company is also employing tens - if not hundreds - of thousands of employees. The subjects we covered were quite broad-ranging, but a pervasive theme emerged: that talented people are very hard to find, even harder to keep and, increasingly, concerned at least as much with the Purpose of their employment as the Perks of their employment. Without a compelling purpose, something that is accepted as being useful to the world, companies cannot secure the talent they need simply by paying more.

The implications of this are far-reaching. While the main disruptions of the pandemic may be over, many employees remain disinclined to return to their offices full-time. Basically, the convenience of furlough payments is difficult to replace; employees prefer their new work-life balance to the daily commute.

In the UK alone, half a million over-50’s left their jobs over the last two years, suggesting a widespread re-evaluation of personal priorities, and studies show young people now choose flexibility and fulfilment over salary.

Average UK office attendance is at 29 per cent - just 1.5 days a week - with less than half of all UK employees commuting daily. The rather astonishing fact is that, according to a recent YouGov survey: while 60% of employees thought they got more done at home, 64% of employers disagreed.

Notwithstanding the obvious down-side of lower productivity, hybrid working is increasing everywhere. Those attending this conference reinforced that as fact.

Does this mean an altered pay-for-performance ‘paradigm’? Possibly. In the end, we can foresee a time in the not-too-distant future when the ‘Employee Value Proposition’ in its entirety is not only quantified but also assessed for quality. Cash bonus may still play a part, long-term incentives may still play a part, but only insofar as they reinforce the Purpose of the organisation, and its Goals.

If you would like to discuss this, and any other matters on the subject of Remuneration – you can reach us at:


As Managing Director, Simon Patterson leads the team at Remuneration Associates (Rem.n), a specialty consulting firm focused on executive pay owned by the professional staff themselves. Formerly Pearl Meyer (London), the team have 35+ years of accumulated experience working together, they are actively engaged as advisors to remuneration committees of some of the largest and some of the fastest growing companies, globally. Mr Patterson and the team consult widely on executive compensation, incentive compensation design, and performance measurement.

Pearl Meyer agreed to divest its London operations on June 17th, 2022. Simon Patterson (Managing Director) and his team now own Remuneration Associates Ltd – an independent consulting firm working with clients around the world, which builds upon the legacy of the London operation.


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