The Value of Non-Monetary Compensation


By Jane Terepocki, CHRP

The best things in life are practically free.

When employees search for employment they look for salary and advancement, but they also search for companies that align with their personal values. Salary, benefits and values equal Total Compensation.

Values mean not only company values but also the value of the individual.  Thus how much the company values the employee is part of the  “compensation” package.  Your team is only as strong as your weakest member.

How do you show that you value your employees?  Nap rooms, common areas, BBQs and social events are found in many businesses.   However showing that you personally value the individual has stronger, lasting impact.

A new employee shares, “I was new in my job and had a lot of challenges in my personal life. It meant a lot to me that I was told to take as much time as I needed to look after my personal life.  It made me feel that this was somewhere I wanted to be for a long time.”   Noticing and knowing  the individual’s needs results in increased engagement and loyalty to the team.

Showing employees that they count does not have to cost the employer a lot of money. The Learning Café, co-founded by Devon Scheef and Diane Thielfoldt in 1999, has shared many creative ideas for companies seeking to develop individuals and teams alike. The following are 10 simple ideas that will positively impact the bottom line:

Instantly Appreciate
At the end of a meeting, say what you think was positive about the session.   Or, take a minute to thank someone and let him or her know you appreciate his or her work, perspective, or knowledge.

Career Chutes & Ladders
Devote a team meeting to a discussion of career paths and options at your company.  What paths have people historically taken?  How are the trends changing? What are the “must have” assignments for each person’s internal resume?

To freshen up routine jobs, have people switch for a day, a week or a month.  When the switch is done, have lunch with the people who traded jobs and find out what they learned.  Is this worth doing more often?

Find Ways to Say Yes
When an employee makes a request that you can’t grant look for wiggle room.  Can you fulfill part of the request?  Can you approach it a different way? Don’t immediately dismiss the request.  Find out why it is important to your team member, discuss it together and look for options.

You Count
At least once a month, make sure you tell people why and how their work is significant.

Lighten Up
With so much time spent at work no one wants to be tense all the time.  Keep a sense of humor, laugh, party, celebrate successes and encourage friendships.  Make the workplace a fun place.

Talks with Senior Management
Arrange for a senior manager to have lunch or a meeting with your team.  Ask the senior manager to talk about company outlook and projects.  Also ask them to talk about their own lessons of experience and how they have managed their careers.

Lunch Hour
Schedule lunch dates with employees.  Invite them to select the restaurant and then simply take time to get to know them better.

Job Talk
Schedule job talks.  Make arrangements for a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.  The focus is on the employee and their work.  Ask what they like about their work; find out if they have hidden talents.  Are there other skills or jobs they would like to have?

The Volunteer View
Imagine that all the employees that work for you are actually volunteers  as opposed to employees.  What do they find interesting and compelling about working for you?  What about your leadership keeps them coming to work.

Challenge yourself to try at least one of these ideas within the next six months.

Make Your Values Transparent

Do you practice what you preach? Are your values what you say you are?  Or are employees saying, “If I had known this I would have never taken this position”  “This is not the company I thought I signed with.”

By not valuing the individual the company may lose the employee. It is a simple fact and the following is a general estimate of replacement cost:  30-50 per cent of the annual salary of entry-level employees, 150 per cent of middle level employees, and up to 400 per cent for specialized, high level employees.

The simple act of respecting the individual pays off.

To build a strong team you must have strong individual team members.  How do you do that?  Pay attention, take time to acknowledge extra effort, think of their needs and examine the type of leadership that you provide.

In the words of Phil Jackson, legendary basketball coach, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”

Jane Terepocki, CHRP is a recruiter and trainer in the human resources department at Mountain Equipment Co-op—Canada’s leading outdoor retailer (

(PeopleTalk Summer 2013)

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  1. I just recently retired at age 65, and one of the greatest things I would have appreciated was the ability to add more to my pension without seeing it – I would have been far more comfortable in my retirement now. Yet most pension/provident schemes refuse to allow any flexibility.

    I did not ask my employer to match my additional contribution… my main interest was a self-enforced savings with money I would have spent otherwise, and which would have been safely invested and compounded along with my standard pension.

    I suppose it would have cost the company I worked for a few pennies to account for it, but also I don’t suppose any competent accountant would have found that exercise terribly difficult to create. His/her time would have been a one-time cost, and from there on in part of the normal pension accounting formulae.

    I am getting involved in a start-up company now, and intend to make this a priority in my own activities in the Boardroom so that others may benefit.

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