Neovation - Reward Forward - Corinthia, London February 28th 2023

Neovation - Reward Forward - Corinthia, London February 28th 2023

There is a moment in your life when 140 people are waiting for you to interview the Chairman of one the largest beverage companies in the world, live on stage. He is supposed to be on the line, but just isn’t. Nobody’s fault. Technology. One of those things. Crikey!

In fact, after a joke or two and interviewing myself, it all worked out. I wouldn’t recommend it for those of a nervous disposition, however.

Neovation 2023 - Reward Forward - built upon a similar gathering of ‘fellow travellers’ from the February 2020, Neovation - Accelerating Agile. As we now know, that meeting was to be almost immediately followed by a global pandemic.

So, now we are talking about the world as it is, not as it should be. Boy, how things have changed.

To summarise:

  • Hybrid, remote and flexible working;
  • Generation Z – the digital natives - moving in, where the Boomers and Generation X left things;
  • A struggle with the cost-of-living
In a nutshell, today’s workforce has fundamentally different needs, with expectations and outlook which must be handled as a ‘client-base’ rather than pushed around as ‘employees’.

Where do we start?

During the day we moved from defining the problem (always referred to as the opportunity) to trying to find ways to solve it, sharing ideas by way of excellent presentations from the likes of Citicorp, the Josh Bersin Company, Vlerick Business School, panels (‘Oracles’), a running case study and lively Q & A. This was a room brimming with ideas, and there will be more detail on the outcome, I am sure, from Neovation’s organisers themselves. But to give you a flavour, some quotes come to mind:

“Employees are the only asset in a company which appreciates”, the inference being that we need to take care of that asset, encourage it, add value to it.

“We want flexibility at work more than anything else, but the real difference [for top talent] is a company’s understanding of the flexibility their ‘clients’ actually want.” Without doubt the search for feedback from ‘clients’, ensuring we hit our engagement goals, sets the best apart from the rest.

“Yes, we want to earn, but we also want to learn”. It is a given, today, that a company’s purpose is as important as its profitability, but the new generation are looking to find ways to learn. Their expectation is to have a long, long career with many different challenges, many different companies, and many ups and downs. They may have to re-learn, from the beginning, a new role. They may have to do that several times.

We have been accustomed to ‘gearbox’ driving pay, with actual pay levels ‘leveraged’ at the top end to reflect what had been deemed ‘top performance’. That thinking needs to change, because it has caused untold heart-ache. We need a relationship between pay and performance that is far straighter, more transparent, more like – well - an Electric Vehicle.

I don’t believe everything I am told. For example, I heard ‘the search for shareholder value is an obsession’ and ‘the search for best practice is meaningless’. Neither of those statements ring true, to me. However, the over-arching theme of the day was that the Reward function has been designed to serve the organisation not its internal clients, and that limited interaction with those same clients must improve. That rings true. The Reward function needs to be more People Centred, more Transparent, more Flexible. In truth, it probably needs to report to the CEO, not the Director of HR.

By the way, the joke starts: “A car breaks down a few yards from a pub, next to a field with two horses, a black one and a white one. The driver stares at the engine bewildered and then the black one says….”

Feel free to contact us at Remuneration Associates for the remainder of the joke.

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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