Engaging through recognition

by 10 Jul 2007

Winner of the 2006 HR Partners Award for Best HR Director, Alec Bashinsky introduced a new remuneration strategy to recognise people and performance at Deloitte. Melissa Yen reports on their strategy which focuses on employees in median job roles and effectively paying for performance

As part of their focus on employee engagement, Deloitte have ensured that they acknowledge their best performers with high ratings, and then correspondingly reward them with promotions, new stretch opportunities and higher remuneration.

“We have introduced a performance culture in the firm which means we ask our employees to ‘do what they say they will do’. We have implemented both a new remuneration strategy and a normal distribution curve performance rating framework,”Bashinsky explains.

“In some cases where our market opportunities are competitive, we incentivise our people to build our business. We also have other reward and recognition incentives that are linked with our signals culture and drive this behaviour through the firm. We also developed additional reward and recognition programs based around assignment recognition, innovation and relationship-building skills.”

The introduction of a new bonus scheme for all employees – based on firm performance, service line performance and individual objectives – formed a major campaign to drive consistency in rewards and bonuses across the firm. Previously, this had always been done subjectively and with different schemes or discretionary payments by partners.

The Deloitte Business Woman of the Year award was also introduced in 2004 to recognise and reward the most talented women and inspire the rest of the firm with their stories.

Keys to effective implementation

According to Bashinsky, the first port of call involved identifying what the behaviours were in each business unit. He then sat down with each business leader to discuss and ascertain what performance-related outcomes the leader wanted to achieve.

“Our overall HR strategy is consistently linked to our business strategy, so when we developed a draft strategy around remuneration and performance culture, we did so with buy-in from the business at an early stage,” he says.

Seeking participation from the various business units and their people and teams in conjunction with project drivers helped in developing and piloting the proposed changes.

“We took their recommendations seriously and educated them where we felt there was a misalignment and by doing so, built a joint strategy rather than one that was totally developed by HR.”

Anything that HR develops in respect to reward and recognition strategies needs to be linked to the business objectives and reinforce performance behaviour, Bashinsky says.

“Consulting with the business to deliver these outcomes is critical to buy-in. I cannot over emphasise the need to consult and be patient on the journey.”

The benefits

Bashinsky explains that this approach was developed firstly to change the culture at Deloitte around the way they recognised and rewarded their people. Secondly, it was used to help develop a performance culture within the firm.

As a result, Deloitte are specifically interested in recognising successful performance and do not simply provide financial retention incentives for people to stay at the firm.

“Firstly, this has helped us define and identify top talent and performers and then reward them. It provides us with transparency for our people and delivers our ‘performance culture’ which in turn reinforces the firm’s signals culture and values.”

Further to this, Bashinsky states it has allowed them to build on a strong reward and recognition base-strategy. They can now effectively look to reward people in a number of different ways by providing flexibility within their programs.