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5 Employee Compensation Trends of 2019 and What They Mean for 2020

2019 saw impressive growth in the sales force, and with it came the need for businesses to find innovative ways to maintain their current workforce. One of the most common trends among employers this year was to add new compensation methods to entice current employees and attract skilled workers.

Here are some of the most popular strategies that took off in 2019, and that we can expect to see skyrocket in the coming decade.

Goal Attainment Bonuses

This compensation trend is by far the most mutually beneficial for employers and workers alike. Setting goals for employees to reach, and rewarding them with customized bonuses, helps the company strive to keep improving and also pushes the staffers to work toward a predetermined goal.

Reward attainment of both individual and organizational goals to foster teamwork and eliminate the “lone ranger” mentality. Each employee and their supervisor should determine these goals and rewards by discussing how to personalize each one beyond a lump sum of cash to give the employees the most motivation.

Quality of Work-Life Rewards

Many C-level executives have moved past the mindset that a competitive salary is the only perk necessary to attract and retain top talent. Employees heading into the workforce have a predisposition to look for companies that are providing a multitude of life benefits. Some of the most common examples of these are:

  • Prepaid legal, educational and vision assistance
  • More opportunities for a flexible working schedule
  • Paid time off
  • Clear career paths, so workers see a potential for themselves in the future of the company
  • As an organization, more focus on employee training and development
  • Parental leave
  • Smaller, everyday thank-you notes for exceeding expectations on minor tasks

Corporate Social Responsibility

Companies are seeing higher and higher returns in supporting their employees’ values and giving them a purpose for their work. People want to feel passionate about what they do and make a difference in the world.

Not only does corporate social responsibility inspire employees to work for a company that backs their beliefs up, but it also gives the business a positive public reputation. From a public relations standpoint, this benefit might pay for itself.

Some popular examples of CSR include:

  • Environmental sustainability efforts
  • Philanthropic initiatives aligned with company culture
  • Ethical and fair treatment of all workers
  • Various volunteer opportunities

Pay Transparency

In January 2016, the federal government passed legislation that prohibits contractors and subcontractors from discharging or discriminating against their employees and job applicants for discussing, disclosing or inquiring about compensation.

While employees may not be announcing their salary over a megaphone at the staff meeting, most organizations can confidently say that their employees are discussing what they earn. Sharing salary information builds trust, and companies that have adopted this trend have reported seeing major increases in job applications.

Pay transparency is in an organization’s best interest to give employees competitive, internally equitable and accurately defined pay structures. The challenge facing companies in 2020 and beyond will be to attract and retain the talent that meets the higher standard for compliance.

Retirement Plans

While it may not be the most exciting benefit to hear about, almost every company today offers retirement plans to help them attract top talent. According to the Defined Contribution Survey Reflecting 2016 Plan Year Experience, 81% of companies offer a defined contribution plan to new hires.

Employees benefit from the safety net of 401(k) plans, but how does it affect the company? Employee recruitment and retainment skyrocket when companies offer a competing retirement plan.

Tax perks also come with retirement plans, because matched contributions and administrative work are tax-deductible. And lastly, employers can also use retirement plans as incentives to increase performance.

Keep an Eye on Compensation Trends in 2020

The top companies are constantly evolving and finding new ways to benefit their employees. Executives who want to give their businesses a competitive edge would be wise to watch these and other compensation trends to stay ahead. 

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a journalist and writer interested in business technology and cloud computing. Her work has been published on Computerworld, InformationWeek and To read more from Kayla, please take the time to visit her blog, Productivity Bytes.

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