Fonterra HR head reveals “crux” of good management

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Rewards and recognition has become a key differentiator for many employers as they fight to attract much needed talent – however, one senior HR figure says these don’t always have to come at a huge cost and organisations shouldn’t underestimate non-monetary offerings.

“This is everything in my view, and the crux of good management,” says Mark Van Zon, head of performance and reward at Fonterra. “Saying thank you for a job well done, recognising employees who have done good things and focusing on the development of individuals is the job of any leader.”

Van Zon also says that non-monetary rewards are valued by everyone, regardless of generation, which makes them an essential part of any company’s wider offering.

“I believe that praise and recognition is a manifestation of connection, and this alone is more important than any one single element of the rewards package,” he tells HRD.

“Transactional rewards only get us part of the way, and in my view the most important element of where rewards work is with the manager and team interface. This is where rewards come to life, and the true value is realised.”

The Auckland-based HR leader – who has senior experience in both the UK and US – also says employers should be reviewing their reward and recognition packages on a regular basis.

“I think it is good practice to review R&R at the same time as we look at the pay review planning, which in most cases is annually,” he says. “The benefits landscape provides some interesting possibilities and focus on EVP means we need to constantly ask ourselves if we are on track. We do this with pay, so why not with the rest of reward?

“Pay, benefits and recognition go hand in hand, and in my view, it makes sense to review the “total reward stack” simultaneously. This encourages us to think holistically and look at all components together. Looking holistically certainly assists the preparation of the strategic business cases that we may need to make on the back of our reviews.”

For those that fail to review and update their rewards and recognition package, the risks are countless.

“Other than the obvious disruption to our talent pipelines and the development of organisational capability, getting the reward positioning wrong risks damage to EVP and overall reputation,” says Van Zon.

“In the age of social media, I have found that perception can change quickly; the broad reach of digital channels can surprise employers, and pay/benefits activism is becoming more high profile. So it is even more important to get our pay and benefits right.”

Mark Van Zon will be just one of many senior HR figures speaking at the upcoming Millennial Workforce Summit in Auckland. The event, due to take place in May, covers a range of topics aimed at helping employers to attract and then leverage talented young staff.

More information about the event, which includes sessions on everything from fast-track leadership programs to managing intergenerational conflict, can be found online.


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