The ROI of Employee Retention and the Importance of Pay Equity

5 min read
Apr 3, 2023 8:19:34 PM

Employee retention is a critical aspect of any successful business. High employee turnover can be costly, leading to decreased productivity, decreased morale, and increased recruitment costs. And it can cost one-half to two times an employee’s annual salary to replace them. This is why it's essential to focus on employee retention — particularly in times of economic uncertainty.

The link between pay equity and revenue

Pay inequities can have a direct impact on employee turnover. In fact, 59% of employees who learned they were earning less than a colleague with the same experience or title started looking for a new job within a year.

Why should pay equity matter to employers? “By ensuring employees are paid equitably, employers can increase efficiency, creativity and productivity by helping to attract the best employees, reduce turnover and increase commitment to the organization,” says Cheryl Pinarchick, an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Boston. 

As businesses navigate through more turbulent headwinds, it's essential to prioritize employee retention and pay equity to improve the bottom line.

Pay equity isn't just about doing the right thing; it's also a sound business investment. Investing in pay equity can lead to a more diverse and inclusive workforce, which can lead to increased revenue for a company.

“It’s not just the right thing to do – it’s a business imperative. We know that companies are stronger and more successful when they are diverse and inclusive.” 
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion - Levi Strauss & Co

The challenges of achieving pay equity

Although pay equity is essential, it's not always easy to achieve. One of the biggest challenges is identifying pay disparities. This requires a comprehensive analysis of pay data, which can be time-consuming and complex. In addition, there may be resistance from stakeholders who don’t see the value of investing in pay equity. Training management on pay transparency compliance is crucial to ensuring long-term progress towards pay equity

Despite the challenges, achieving pay equity is critical for retaining top talent and improving the bottom line.

Strategies for achieving pay equity

Addressing pay equity requires an ongoing effort, as decisions like candidate offers, merit cycles, company reorganizations, and business acquisitions can lead to compensation disparities.

Conduct a pay equity analysis

One of the first steps in achieving pay equity is conducting a pay equity analysis. This can be a time-consuming and complex process, but it's essential for achieving pay equity.

Develop compensation strategies that address pay disparities

Once pay disparities have been identified, it's essential to develop compensation strategies that address them. 

Communicate the importance of pay equity to managers

It's essential to communicate the importance of pay equity to managers to get them on board with the idea. You need manager support to make pay equity a reality, and you need team members who know they can speak up if they feel there's a pay disparity within your organization.

Monitor and evaluate progress

Once policies and procedures have been implemented to achieve pay equity, it's essential to monitor and evaluate progress. This involves conducting regular pay equity analyses and evaluating the effectiveness of compensation strategies.

“You'll also want to set targets and track progress against those targets by regularly measuring any pay gaps using a pay equity analysis.”

The challenge in making total rewards equitable

While equity in total rewards is desirable, it’s not always easy to achieve. There are several challenges that total compensation leaders face when trying to make total rewards equitable.

One of the main challenges is the lack of transparency and communication around total rewards. Many employees don’t understand how their compensation is determined or what factors are considered. This can lead to misunderstandings, frustration, and mistrust.

Another challenge is the limited budget and resources for total rewards. Many organizations have to balance the need to offer competitive compensation with the constraints of their budget and financial goals.

For example, the benefits employees value most are healthcare, 401k program and 401k matching, bonuses and stipends, paid family leave, a casual dress code, remote work, and mental health resources. 

A robust, transparent total rewards program fueled by employee feedback is the best way to offer equitable and competitive compensation packages to your team members. 

The misconception of equality in total rewards

One common misconception among employees is that total rewards should be equal, with everyone receiving the same compensation for the same work. This assumption is flawed.

For instance, a senior employee who has been with the company for one year may earn more than a colleague who joined the organization three years ago, even if they have the same job title. This would occur when the more recent hire has more skills, experience, and knowledge that are valuable to the organization.

The importance of equity in total rewards

Equity is crucial in total rewards because it ensures that employees are motivated to perform their best and feel valued by the organization. When employees feel that their compensation is fair and aligned with their contributions, they’re more likely to be engaged, productive, and loyal to the company.

“There’s open communication and responsible transparency around goals, measurements & processes. This ensures employees have “skin in the game”, believe they are being fairly compensated and rewards are equitable, both internally and externally.”
- Khurshid Anis, Sr. Director - Global HR Business Partner at NXP

In fact, individuals who believe their pay is fair are 2.8x more likely to be a promoter of the company’s talent brand than those who do not.

The link between total rewards and employee engagement

Employee engagement is a critical factor in driving business success. Engaged employees are more productive, more committed to their work, and less likely to leave their jobs. One way to boost employee engagement is by offering a total rewards program that recognizes and rewards employees for their contributions to the company.

By creating an equitable total rewards program that recognizes and rewards employees for their contributions, you can boost employee engagement and drive higher levels of productivity and commitment.

The relationship between total rewards and productivity

Productivity is another critical factor in driving business success. By offering a total rewards program that recognizes and rewards employees for their contributions, you can boost productivity and drive higher levels of business success.

Strategies for making total rewards equitable

Despite the challenges, there are several strategies that total compensation leaders can use to make total rewards equitable. 

These include:

  1. Conducting regular market research to ensure that the organization's compensation is competitive with the industry standards.

  2. Creating a transparent and clear total rewards communication strategy that outlines how compensation is determined, what factors are considered, and how employees can improve their rewards.

  3. Providing a variety of rewards that are aligned with employees' needs and preferences, such as healthcare, wellness programs, flexible work arrangements, and recognition programs.

  4. Offering career development opportunities that enable employees to enhance their skills and advance their career within the organization.

The role of technology in making total rewards equitable

Technology can play a significant role in making total rewards equitable. Total compensation leaders can leverage technology to:

  1. Automate and streamline the compensation process, reducing errors and biases.

  2. Provide real-time feedback and insights to employees regarding their compensation, enabling them to improve their performance and rewards.

  3. Analyze compensation data to identify patterns and trends, enabling total compensation leaders to make data-driven decisions.

High-performing organizations are six times more likely to use data and analysis to understand the rewards preferences of their workers compared with their lower-performing counterparts.”

In conclusion: The impact of total rewards on retention

Retention is another critical factor in driving business success. High employee turnover can cost your company thousands of dollars in recruitment, training, and lost productivity costs. By offering a total rewards program that recognizes and rewards employees for their contributions, you can reduce turnover and retain your top talent.

By creating an equitable total rewards program that recognizes and rewards employees for their contributions, you can reduce turnover and retain your top talent, which can save your company thousands of dollars in recruitment and training costs.


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