Communicing Your Total Rewards & Benefits Packages

market, promote, employee rewards, perks, benefits

Quite often especially at smaller companies and high growth startups, we miss out on opportunities to properly sell our organization with the company perks, compensation and benefits. We will define total rewards as a concept and how it impacts job offer acceptance especially in highly competitive industries and job roles.

A total rewards program involves the effective communication of the total employment package including employee benefits, perks, compensation and employment benefits like flexible scheduling or remote work so that the employee or candidate can see the bigger benefit picture beyond traditional monetary compensation. Think of total rewards as a candidate marketing and employee retention campaign that never ends and varies depending on the interests of the individual employee and the competition of other employers in the industry or geographic location.

Six Most Important Popular Employee Benefits

Traditional Benefits. 

  • Traditional should be the foundation of every package you offer to a candidate. It includes things like 401(k) plans, health insurance programs, tuition reimbursement, etc. Offering a strong traditional benefits package is only the first step in recruiting strong talent. Each company candidates go after will take this into account when it comes to accepting a job. Remember that salary is not the only reason candidates take a position within a company.

Bonus Plans.

  •  Bonus plans essentially tack on a big compensation bonus at the end of the year based on performance within the company. This should be used in the event you’re trying to close a top leveled candidate or asking someone to move to work for you. Bonus plans can be upwards of 5-10K, but lower depending on the work involved. Use these to tell candidates the max amount they can make if salary isn’t enough.

Stock Options.

  •  Stock options are used significantly in the startup culture when companies aren’t able to compensate their employees effectively because of cash flow. They’re also used as a way to compensate c-suite level executives when the company is doing well financially. Look into stock options as another way to compensate strong candidates if you can’t pay them a high level salary.


  •  Being able to effectively communicate your compensation strategy will be effective in attracted stronger candidates in the startup culture as well as large companies. In your compensation strategy it’s important to include items like pay grade information, common salary increases, and career pathing when it comes to compensation. This information will allow candidates to instantly see their career path and the compensation that they can reach if they max out their full potential within your organization.

Specialty Perks.

  •  Specialty employee perks are becoming more and more popular especially in Silicon Valley where companies are doing whatever they can to find candidates and attract them to their company culture.  Facebook introduced one of the most controversial specialty perks earlier this year when they said they would pay female employees to freeze their eggs so that could stay in the workforce longer. Other perks that have taken off are unlimited vacation policies, health and fitness plans, as well as different things like dry cleaning services, food services during work hours, and pre-cations. Zappos currently pays their candidates $2,000 not to take the job. This allows them to find the serious-only candidates.


  •  While a staple in startup hubs like Silicon Valley and Austin, employee equity in the forms of shares is a great way to incentivize employees to stick around at your company. Tiered equity works best, however, I have found that employees and candidates need to be educated on how receiving shares and equity works exactly.

Traditional total rewards programs in the past have been nothing more than a fancy employee mailer that outlines the total benefit of working at your organization but given the competitive and positive economic climate, a total rewards package communication strategy needs to be so much more than that. It’s not enough to have a strong total rewards and benefits package will allow you to attract candidates easily. Don’t rely on high salaries for your entire strategy, but over a combination of the above mentioned items.  You also need to have an effective, engaging and efficient way to effectively market your total rewards and benefits package. 

How to Market Your Total Rewards & Benefits to Employees

Effective marketing of the total rewards your company provides isn’t just a supped up Glassdoor company profile or a blog and branding package with the Muse.  It all starts with research and understanding what’s most important about the company benefits offered not to your executive team but your employees. This is the foundation of what is called employment branding.

Leverage your employee population.

  • Employment branding is building a marketing strategy and branding plan using what matters most at your organization by talking to your current employees. If your employees are happy, they’re going to talk to their friends about how amazing their jobs are and it’ll quickly become one of the top companies on top lists for employees. This is a key if you want to be a candidate’s choice in places of employment.

Talk to past candidates.

  • Sometimes it is as simple as creating a word cloud to understand what’s most important to candidates and employees. Looking at exit surveys and understanding reasons why employees are leaving can be one of the most important pieces of information when it comes to creating a strong retention strategy within your organization. Talk to past candidates to understand the pros and cons of working at your company and use that information to build a better culture.

Create a benefits top 5 list.

  • When creating a list of the top five benefits, let your employees pick those benefits. You won’t always be able to do the first one, but you will be able to work off a priority list. Creating this list will give you real information on what you can do to enhance your overall culture. This will make sure your not implementing and spending money on perks that your employees don’t want. Since each company is different and dynamic it’s important to understand your culture and employees

Create content and media for display and distribution on career sites, job listings and throughout the hiring and offer process.

  • It could be as simple as updating your company careers site, but what is more compelling is having what perks and benefits are most important comes from your own employees telling their stories. This gives you one more benefit on your competition and gives you a stronger employer brand which helps recruit candidates more effectively.

Create an employee total rewards job offer packet and onboarding kit.

  • Provide resources and information to help explain why your total rewards outshine the competition that reinforces the media and content you’ve already created. This will save you time when it comes to onboarding each of your new hires and frees up valuable time for your recruiters and hiring managers.

Monitor Employee Review Sites.

  •  Employee review sites are one of the ways in which candidates research employers during the hiring process. At minimum, companies should be monitoring these reviews, addressing the issues uncovered and creating marketing contents to address future questions from candidates and employees.

So What’s Next?

There are certainly services and technologies you can leverage like several mentioned earlier in the article, but it is important to first get your house in order before you shout out to the rooftops all the amazing benefits, perks and potential your company provides to prospective employees. This means getting your career site, apply process and candidate selection process to be positive, focused on the candidate and able to articulate the company culture clearly.

Understanding the essentials behind a total rewards and compensation strategy will give your company a strong strategy going into a competitive market. These five things will help jumpstart your employer branding strategies and give you a head start in competing against your competition for strong talent. If you missed out on part one, learn five things you should include in a total rewards and compensation strategy.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

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  1. […] Total reward programs are an important piece of making your company the best place to work and attracting the best technical talent for your organization. We will discuss how to non-compensation benefits and perks can increase your acceptance rate as well as how you’re able to offer a well rounded strategy when it comes to compensation. Traditional compensation in the form of cash is important to attract candidates and retain workers. We need to pay people a fair wage to attract talent to our organizations. If we want to attract the best talent, we need to pay above average standards while also offering some additional perks and benefits.  […]


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