There is an iconic scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy first enters the land of Oz. Up until that moment, the movie plays out in black and white. But once Dorothy opens the door, it’s a technicolor dreamworld. No comparison to the drab reality from just a moment earlier. 

Transformations like that are possible in the workplace, no trip to Oz required, just a change in the approach to compensation. 

Compensation is, by nature, transactional. You give us X number of hours, we give you Y number of dollars. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. Compensation can be a transformative tool, positively impacting that most crucial workplace element: employee engagement. 

Much has been written about employee engagement and for good reason. Engaged employees work harder, produce better work, and contribute to an overall positive office culture. HR departments and managers alike have spent a lot of time, energy and funds on creating an engaged culture. In-office perks, flexible work schedules, expanded benefits packages and more are all tools used at companies across the country in an effort to keep employees from thinking the grass is greener elsewhere. Despite all that effort, employees today are switching jobs more frequently than ever before. From the Great Resignation in 2021 to the tendency of Millennials to job-hop at three times the rate of those in older generations, companies are constantly dealing with the pain and cost of disengaged employees with one foot out the door.

Employee engagement should be one of any manager’s top role responsibilities. Holding just one 15-30 minute meaningful conversation per week with each employee to discuss goals, customers, wellbeing and recognition is key to increasing engagement. Employees should leave those interactions with a clear idea of what they need to do in their job and why it matters to the overall company mission or goals. Managers should leave those interactions with more insight on the employee as a person, not just a widget performing a task. That insight can produce meaningful compensation. 

So how can compensation help transform the workplace? By taking it from a financial transaction between employer and employee to a personal value-add that has a meaningful impact on the employee’s life and the employer’s company. Go beyond doling out salaries at the proper intervals …. explore other options for compensation that are highly meaningful and impactful for employees. 

Including a vesting bonus (a lump sum of cash paid upfront that’s earned over time) to compensation packages is a great place to start. A lump sum of cash, delivered up front, that vests over time could provide employees the opportunity to pay off debt, purchase a house, take a well-deserved vacation, or invest to increase their long-term financial security. That could be life-changing money and it shows support for employees on a personal level not typically found in the transactional world of compensation. 

Employers could even create vesting bonuses with defined performance goals attached. When the employee accomplishes a goal, they’re rewarded with an accelerated vesting timeline to reach milestones faster. The employee is engaged in their work, compensated in a way that is valuable to them personally, and performance goals are hit for the company. Everyone wins. When compared to the transactional model of compensation, it’s like going from black and white Kansas to colorful Oz - the value is immeasurable.

Reach out if you’re looking to bring more value to your compensation. We’d be happy to walk you through our platform and see which solutions are right for you.