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2017 total rewards survey

Initial findings

As the workforce continues to be disrupted, organizations are having to rethink traditional approaches to total rewards programs. Improving integration of compensation and benefits is a focus for three-quarters of the organizations we surveyed.

The drive toward integration

Dealing with shifting workforce demographics, activating a digital organization, keeping up with the rapid pace of change—the forces disrupting work are also forcing the need to evolve traditional compensation and benefit strategies, programs, and associated service delivery models.

To compete effectively, organizations will need to adopt a more holistic and integrated view of total rewards—one that embraces and leverages the current and pending disruption. This transformation is necessary to allow employers to develop a more agile approach to rewards strategy, programs, delivery, and communication to meet the needs of tomorrow’s workforce. Few organizations are there right now, but many recognize the need for change.

Rethinking traditional approaches

​Deloitte Consulting LLP and Empsight International LLC conducted a survey of total rewards programs and practices in the fall of 2016. Nearly 200 organizations responded to the survey, sharing views around total rewards philosophies, as well as compensation and benefits program designs, costs, and practices.

This summary focuses on the key findings from the total rewards philosophies section of the survey, which shows that only around one in five organizations currently has a fully integrated total rewards program.

However, improved integration is on the corporate agenda. Of the remaining organizations, three out of four are interested in increasing the integration of their compensation and benefits programs. Examples include benchmarking the programs on a combined basis and communicating to employees the full value of all company-provided rewards.

Impacts of size and industry

The drive toward integration directly correlates with the size of the company, with larger organizations more likely to follow a fully integrated philosophy (about 24 percent of large organizations indicated they are fully integrated vs 16 percent of small organizations).

The survey results also indicate that the desire to integrate total rewards varies significantly by industry. Organizations in the Financial Services industry are far more likely to fully integrate their total rewards programs than those in the Life Science & Healthcare industry. In our experience, those taking on a fully integrated approach have greater resources to innovate and often have a business imperative to adapt more quickly to marketplace change. They are also less likely be unionized, allowing them to adopt new ways of doing things more readily.


A few of the more interesting results in the survey:

  • Only 13 percent of large organizations seek to be above the market for total compensation and benefits compared to 42 percent of small organizations.
  • Around 28 percent of organizations believe their philosophy may differ from their actual practices; around 7 percent are above where they wish to be and 21 percent are below their desired position.

Not surprisingly, as organizations focus on total rewards, costs continue to be the number one influencer of an organization’s total rewards strategy. Other factors that influence the total rewards strategy included:

  • The value to critical workforce segments
  • Administrative complexity
  • Multi-generational needs

Flexible rewards, or the ability to create employee customization, was least important to those surveyed.


Becoming a choice employer

​As organizations begin the journey toward a fully integrated total rewards program, one of the challenges they face is understanding the best way to attract and retain a workforce that has varying priorities. The future impact of this disruptive workforce landscape is yet to be fully realized. What we do know and understand is that organizations that demonstrate agility and creativity to address varying employee needs will yield the greatest success, and perhaps win the coveted title of “Employer of Choice”—and create simply irresistible employee experiences.


Survey overview

Deloitte Consulting LLP and Empsight International worked together to develop the 2017 total rewards survey. The survey was designed to help participants understand how their total rewards programs compare to those of their peers. Through a combination of questions around total rewards philosophies, the results highlight these philosophies overall, as well as by industry and by size. The survey was conducted from September to December 2016 and represents a wide distribution of organizations in terms of geography, size, and industry.

Additional survey data relating to compensation and benefits programs will be released in the near future.

For questions regarding survey results or if you need more information, please feel free to contact one of the following survey leaders:

Deloitte Consulting LLP

Andrew Coccia
Tel: +1 203 659 6602

Patricia Ryan
Tel: +1 312 486 2943

Empsight International LLC

Jeremy Feinstein
Tel: +1 212 683 7745

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