This research delves into an assessment of the application of variable pay form of compensation and insurance cover as a benefit offered to employees within the firm. The research seeks to determine the various ways that an organization may fulfil its core aim of generating and building value through the employees who represent the human capital within the firm.
Organizations adopt various compensation and benefits approaches to reward and motivate their employees. The diverse options available for compensation and benefits may be adopted by different organizations based on the approach that maximizes value; both to the employees and to the firm. However, compensation and benefits mostly have a financial implication which again implies that the firm`s financial capacity is an essential consideration while deciding what compensation and benefits approaches to adopt.
Through analysis of the existing scholarly and theory work in existence, the effectiveness of variable pay and insurance cover benefit in leveraging human capital value as a contemporary issue in human resource management will be ascertained.
The existing limitations of variable pay and insurance cover benefit will also be analyzed in pursuit of determining the effectiveness of the options in leveraging the value of human capital within the firm. Recommendations will then be availed based on the findings and a conclusion will be drawn at the end of the research.
Organizations comprise of a valuable resource that helps all other non-human resources acquire relevance in functionality. This is the human capital resource. It therefore implies that the human capital resource within the firm is highly sensitive and the firm ought to accord it adequate attention to achieve operational value.
Compensation and benefits are part of the sensitive aspects of human capital engagement that determine the productivity derived. According to Merriman and Deckop (2007), organizations are only able to achieve the set objectives by ensuring that the human capital is not only adequately skilled but also consistently motivated to enhance productivity. There are various ways that the human capital productivity can be enhanced and a fair compensation and benefits package is one of them.
There are diverse compensation and benefits packages that a firm may adopt based on which one suits its specific values and financial capacity. The primary function of the organizational is to maximize value through optimal utilization of all the resources available to a firm; which include the human capital.
The organization considers the issue of human capital management among the top strategic management concerns. Kramar, Murthy and Guthrie (2011) point out that human capital is a measure of education, skills, capacity and work characteristics that affect the company`s production potential and earning capacity.
The human capital therefore should be considered highly sensitive to the firm`s performance. Being human implies that the organization engages in several actions and measures intended to ensure that there is high motivation to deliver, build even greater skills capacity and ability to perform.
The human capital resource in the firm also implies that the organization incurs a high cost in maintaining it. Therefore, the organization ought to ensure that maximum leverage is sought so as to reap the highest value possible. According to Madhani (2011), to leverage a resource implies to achieve an increase in resource productivity.
In other words, an organization gets the specific resource to generate maximum value during its use or application. Firms are consistently pursuant to find effective ways of leveraging the human capital in the firm. One of the modern ways sought by firms and which scholars have presented different opinions over is the use of variable pay and extending insurance cover on the employees.
Madhani (2014) indicates that employee compensation is a systematic method of delivering monetary reward to workers in exchange for the labor applied in the organization. Compensation can achieve different objectives regarding recruitment, professional services, and job satisfaction. Compensation is a tool employed by the administration for various purposes to support the existence of an organization.
Compensation can be accustomed according to the needs, objectives and available resources of the company. Additionally, compensation can be used to: attract and retain skilled employees, increase or uphold morale or fulfillment, reward and inspire maximum productivity, attain internal and external capital and encourage loyalty to business and the practice of trade unions.
For workers, there are two forms of compensation; direct and indirect. Direct forms of compensation have variant approaches: from salaries to bonuses. Indirect compensation is fundamentally the different types of long-term benefits and incentives.
One form of compensation is direct compensation for the services provided by the worker. The term used for this is the salary. It comprises four different payment groups from the employer to the employee. These are wages, hours, commissions and bonuses (Palos & Stancovici, 2016).
Rhodes and Pullen (2010) point out that salary is a type of wage, usually a fixed amount of payment during a specified period. The most traditional form is the dollar value for a year. The payment frequency is the other part of the compensation and is based on industry standards. Most companies make payment for services done twice a month.
The salary is the most common tool utilized to pay professional or licensed workers. The employer expects the employee to comply with the long-term obligations to ensure regular and continuous compensation through payment. Once the compensation is based on the volume or in specific forms of performance, it is called compensation based on commission.
Additional terms utilized consist of piecemeal or piecework. Various industries have used this kind of compensation to achieve a maximum level of production in exchange for compensation. Bonuses are used to improve employee productivity. It is a variable type of payment and most often meets with hired employees to motivate them to achieve a specific goals, be it in time or volume.
Compensation is considered fair if it is developed using a system of components that includes job descriptions, job reviews, assessments and compensation structures.
Ensuring the inclusion of these elements in the definition of compensation plans is essential for the maintenance of internal and external capital balance. If the pay of the company’s employees is fair, it can be a useful tool that will help to get and retain talent, improve worker’s morale and reward or inspire high productivity (Madhani, 2014). Employees expect fair compensation.
If the company does not offer compensation that current and potential employees or federal and state governments consider “fair,” the company may find itself in a difficult situation. It is in the company’s interest to ensure compliance with federal and local fair compensation standards. Thus, the company has to stay actively in the know and review the compensation data of the employees (Palos & Stancovici, 2016).
Luo and Donaldsen (2013) argue that companies base their compensation on some factors. Certain corporations pay more attention to these factors than others, but nearly all businesses use a type of analysis to determine the compensation scale. These factors are market studies on the cost of similar jobs in the market, where many companies conduct official wage surveys that can help them decide on the level of labor in the market.
Secondly, the contribution and achievements of employees, in which companies identify the difference as the employee contributes to the business, differentiating the salary with higher efficiency. Thirdly, the presence of employees with similar skills on the market is also considered.
Also, there is the employer’s desire to invite and retain a particular employee, where companies recognize the differences in the contribution of employees to the company through the differentiation of wages. The last determining factor is the profitability of companies or funds available in the public or non-profit sector and previous wages (Tushman, Lakhani, & Lifshitz-Assaf, 2012).
Employee benefits, at times called fridge benefits, are secondary forms of compensation offered to employees in the context of employment relationships. To contend with quality employees in the current market, employers have to do more than just “fair pay.” Employees also need a good set of benefits. Indeed, employees are used to generous benefit programs and wait for them (Putnam, 2015).
Ncube, Bussin and De Swardt (2013) claim that there are many benefits for employees, like paid Time-Off (PTO), many types of insurance ( for example, life, dental, medical and disability), involvement in a pension plan or access to a car from the company, among others. Particular benefits are mandatory, which are governed by the government while others are willingly offered to meet the needs of particular populations. Benefit plans are not provided in cash but constitute the basis of a worker’s income with a basic salary and bonus.
Nergaard et al. (2009) argue that in an organization, benefit plans for “qualified” employees must be available to all employees and non-qualified benefit plans may be available for the employees for the selected group, for example for managers or other high salaried employees.
While applying the benefit plan, human resources departments must guarantee agreement with federal and state regulations. Several states and countries introduce various minimum benefits, such as the minimum paid license, the employer’s contribution to the pension, the payment of sickness benefits and others.
Several factors determine the social benefits available to employees. The organization must see the benefits in the employee’s overall compensation. Although this is an indirect form of compensation, it is also an essential part of the negotiations and is analyzed as part of the salary for employee services. Benefits comprise health insurance, employee services, and pensions. Some benefits, such as compensation to employees, are mandatory, and others like bonuses are optional (Gillman & Kejak, 2014).
According to Arrowsmith et al. (2010), the company must understand the budget, the legal system and its competitors to make informed decisions about the benefits. The firm ought to establish which benefits the competitors are offering their workers and think about what they can do to compete.
Small businesses may not be able to provide a benefits package or as a large company, but they can provide a “welcoming” workplace instead of increasing job satisfaction. If possible, involve their employees in the decision to add benefits and let the employees know what the company is worth.
Variable pay and Insurance Cover Benefit
The variable pay is the compensation of the employees which varies according to the employees` input against a known scale during the year. Variable compensation is used to recognize and reward worker contributions for security, productivity, teamwork, quality or any other action that, in the opinion of senior management, plays an important role.
The employee who receives variable compensation goes beyond the job description to promote the success of the organization. Variable pay is provided in several ways, including the distribution of benefits, deferred compensation, bonus, holiday bonuses, cash and goods, and services, for example, business travel paid by the company.
Variable payment is an employee’s anticipated benefit if the company retains employees (Dolai, 2015). They want to be able to receive variable compensation to reinforce the basic salary. Besides, today’s employees are more dedicated to perform beyond their job descriptions once engaged within a motivating work environment.
A company, even a global company, is not enough to provide the same benefits common to all the employees it engages. Nowadays, employees expect multiple benefit packages tailored to their requirements and not just broad demographics. Nevertheless, personalization of benefits begins with employers who understand what their employees appreciate and need. In other words, the benefits are as valuable as all employees.
Therefore, the higher the variety and flexibility of benefit programs, the higher the likelihood that employees will feel valued and so will their productivity increase leading to greater value to the organization.
Variable pay has been termed as a reliable and effective compensation approach in organizations as beyond the basic salary, it causes the employees to get highly motivated to deliver extra ordinary results past their job description knowing very well that there is compensation due for that.
In essence, this generates value for the organization that is able to achieve higher level of productivity while still compensating the employee adequately and competitively. Variable pay has also been perceived as a strategic way of guaranteed performance-based compensation for the employees. The scale of compensation due to an employee is guided by how much output can be attributed to the employees` efforts.
It is also highly personalized as each employee`s productivity is weighed on the adopted scale. This makes variable pay highly economical to the organization yet value-inspired compensation approach.
Hearthfield S. (2017) availed an insight into how an organization can provide benefits that excite and retain employees. Variable pay in this case has been presented as a reward system that has been perceived by employees as motivational. The employees subjected to variable pay often assume the obligation of performing beyond their job description aware that all extra effort immersed at work would be rewarded accordingly.
As Hearthfield indicates, variable pay may take various forms such as profit sharing, cash or kind compensation, bonuses, holiday bonuses and other incentives based on the firm`s capacity. Variable pay is observed as a recent strategic move for firms seeking to achieve dynamism in the compensation and benefits area of human resource.
However, a firm does not only seek to raise the employees
morale without an objective. The intention is to increase the employees productivity and retention which in turn generates value to the firm. However, to avoid conflicts and cases of misunderstanding, the firm needs to have the criteria of variable pay well explained to the workforce. The employees need to know upfront how they earn the variable pay and in what form; cash or kind.
Otaye L., et al (2016) presented a research on the approaches to developing and leveraging human capital resource in a firm. Compensation and benefits are presented as an effective approach in enhancing the productivity and motivation of the human capital resource within the firm. As a contemporary issue, Otaye considers benefits as motivational only when they have a perceived value on the employee.
The firm therefore ought to first find out what set of benefits are perceived as valuable by the employees. Insurance cover especially in life and health emerge as highly valued among most employees in firms. A firm that seeks to enhance the human capital productivity through insurance benefit should therefore seek to avail the health and life insurance covers.
It is the perceived value on the employees
end that determines how effective the applied benefit is in helping achieve the organizations objective in adopting it. It is further noted that the ability to avail adequate and relevant insurance cover to employees as part of the benefit reward requires that the firm`s financial position be vibrant and sustainable.
Regarding benefits, (Kramar, Murthy & Guthrie, 2011) have asserted that employee present a preference of packages that make significant impact on their lives. An organization that seeks to meet employees
needs and expectations therefore has to adopt a benefit system that comprises of items of value to the employees. This essentially causes the employees to feel motivated to work and deliver value to the organization in return. Insurance cover which has a broad spectrum of considerations has become a core aspect of concern for employees on the benefits preference.
As the environment presents various risks and needs such as health, accidents, education needs among others, employees have a preference for organizations that offer insurance in these areas of their lives. It is actually regarded as a personalized service when an employee can actually access healthcare, education and other amenities under an insurance cover. (Otaye, 2016).
Notably, the various areas of life covered by the insurance covers are highly sensitive. An example is a health cover that offsets the employees
obligation to settle their hospital bills. In the presence of the long term ailments that may end up draining the employees finances; it remains a highly valued benefit when the organization caters for that through paid insurance cover.
Therefore, according to Heathfield (2017), past the adequate compensation through variable pay, insurance cover benefit happens to be a highly valued employment benefit.
Organizations seeking to leverage on the human capital resource cannot therefore overlook the impact of variable pay and insurance cover within the compensation and benefits component. It remains an effective motivation and employee retention strategy to provide compensation and benefit packages that appeal and deliver value to the employees.
The organization-human capital interaction is value-inspired. This implies that both parties have perceived obligations and expectations that are inclined towards value. The only way for the organization to leverage on human capital resource would be delivering value within their expectations.
Van Es Q. (2016) availed a review of contemporary issues in employee compensation and benefits in a firm. According to Van Es, there is increased differentiation in compensation approaches. Organizations are embracing the more dynamic compensation approaches that yield value both for the employees and to the organization.
Performance related pay, which is basically variable pay seems to be gaining popularity in application within firms as firms seek to enhance productivity of the human capital. Under the variable pay approach, there are organizations that have observed employees go beyond their job description in pursuit of earning the variable pay.
As thus, employees also have greater expectations from the organizations regarding their input and effort in work. It has also been found to be an effective talent attraction and retention strategy by organization as it also calls for employee skills development and upgrade to remain productive and relevant.
With high level of competitiveness among firms, rising operational costs and the need to maintain a consistent rise in the value of the firm, there is need to have a vibrant and value-generating benefits and compensation plan. The current market trends require that a firm adopts value-maximizing strategies in nearly all its functional areas.
The human resource function that is responsible for adopting and implementing the compensation and benefits plan has a role in the value maximization on the available human capital resource in the organization. Heathfield (2017). Additionally, the ability to adopt a compensation and benefits plan that enhances the productivity and motivation of the workforce has direct implication on the ultimate value of the firm.
Leveraging the human capital resource therefore implies that the organization is able to adopt strategies that enhance workforce productivity and retain them for long periods. Compensation and benefit aspect is highly sensitive to the productivity on employees. An effective compensation and benefits strategy would therefore be an effective tool in leveraging the human capital resource in an organization.
A similar principle applies to the employees who have to invest in generating value to the organization in order to enhance the continued value as derived. The balance and value maximization for both parties can only be enhanced by ensuring that the organization maintains a highly motivated human capital on all possible fronts. One core strategy to achieve this is through effective compensation and benefits plan such as variable pay and insurance cover. On the other hand, organizational value is enhanced when the employees are highly motivated to perform.
Limitations of Variable Pay and Insurance Cover Benefit
Although variable pay and insurance cover have been presented as effective leveraging tools that firms can adopt to maximize value of the available human capital, there are a few observed limitations over their application and adoption. However, as every strategy in an organization presents both pros and cons; the weight of either determines if it remains an applicable strategy for an organization.
Insurance covers are diverse in context and applying premiums. Essentially, a company that decides to adopt the diverse insurance cover to its employees as part of the benefits package ought to have an adequate financial base to cater for the expense.
Insurance premiums are paid annually and insurance cover benefit for the employees introduces a cost item to the existing budget. As Otaye (2016) points out, a firm that is not operating in high profit margins, the insurance cover benefit may greatly stress the financial status which may subsequently lead to greater financial struggles that affect overall performance. Again, if the firm does not have sustainable high profit margins that can absorb the extra cost of the insurance premiums, then the benefit would be unsustainable.
The impact of unsustainable benefits is that they create uncertainty in the employees which subsequently contributes to poor employee performance. With poorly motivated employees, an organization would not be strategically positioned to leverage on the human capital. The insurance cover benefit can only be availed by a firm that records high profitability and with adequate financial muscle to sustain the benefit in the long term.
The variable pay compensation approach though motivating to the employees receiving it poses a great challenge in quantifying the work done. Variable pay is subject the quantity of output or input that can be attributed to the employee or group of employees assigned to a given job. However, the diversity of functions and roles within the firm also dictates that the type of work done differs greatly which subsequently means that some jobs may not be quantifiable as to determine the variable pay due. In such cases, the human resource faces the challenge of determining the variable pay across the various roles without seemingly applying inconsistent scales across the different roles.
The human resource function has an ever existent pursuit of unifying the employee treatment in the organization so as to reduce the chance of such ills as discrimination. (Luo and Donaldsen, 2013). However, the adoption of variable pay compensation approach may raise such concerns as the fairness of the scale of determining how much work or effort can be attributed to an employee in order to deserve a given level of compensation in variable pay. For this reason, organizations have only adopted variable pay on certain roles and not to others; which in most cases still raises the concerns of differing work quantifying scales.
Diversity of Insurance Covers
As an employee benefit likely to harness a more productive human capital in the firm, insurance covers are highly diverse and the specific area of value varies from one employee to another. It has become essentially impossible for an organization to avail the liberty of choosing the insurance cover that serves their interest best. This would introduce a financial constrain to the firm, possibly greater than the value sought through maintaining a motivated and productive work force.
For this reason, the organizations usually determine the most relevant insurance cover for their diverse workforce and the employees therefore subscribe to the presented option. The fact that employees are not accorded the liberty to choose the most relevant insurance cover them is sometimes perceived as unfair to the employees. As Van Es (2016) asserts, the perception is that the organization undertakes to offer the benefit but with interests far from the employees`.
This may therefore cause the benefit to have impartial positive impact far from the intended impact. As such, the diversity of insurance covers and the associated limited ability of the organization to provide a wide array and options to the employees may deem the benefit limiting.
Generalization of the benefits
Insurance covers available in the market are largely homogeneous. This therefore implies that the various firms across the industry may just offer similar insurance cover benefit. This has a significant impact on the human capital in a firm in that, their loyalty to the firm as compared to the competitors in the industry is not anchored on any differences in the benefits. Uniqueness in the benefits package in the firm as compared to what the other firms in the industry offer is partly what delivers value to the organization.
When a firm can offer the human capital a benefit that is unique from all other available options across the industry; it implies that value is generated to the organization. The insurance cover benefit therefore comes off as a general benefit in the industry that an employee may not consider a factor while deliberating on change of organization. An organization offering insurance cover as a benefit to its workforce requires to make effort to add other benefits to make its offer unique and consequently derive value from a more motivated and productive human capital. (Heathfield, 2017).
Among the numerous essential elements in the complex experimentation of organizational efficiency is the ability to retain a highly motivated and adaptable human capital. To achieve the objectives of the mission, the organization should focus on the complexity, uncertainty, and dynamics of the external environment, overcoming and facing their rivals and competitors, even better, faster or more innovative.
There must be a specially qualified human capital with a zeal to perform and deliver value to the organization. This is achieved by developing a strategy to achieve the mission, organizational objectives and aligning the internal organization with management, administrative structure, and work processes and personnel management methods to support the organization strategy implementation. In this sense, the acquisition and maintenance of a highly motivated and productive human capital becomes an ongoing concern for the firm (Palos & Stancovici, 2016).
The human resource department is the function charged with ensuring that the firm derives value from the available human capital available. The roles of the function therefore involve a strategic function of ensuring ultimate value to the organization.
The human resource therefore, in the area of compensation and benefits determines and adopts the most effective approaches that enhance value delivery to the firm. Variable pay and insurance cover have in the recent past been subjected to analysis and assessment on their effectiveness in ensuring that the organization maintains a highly motivated and productive human capital.
From the various assessments done, the variable pay and the insurance cover benefit present numerous possibilities of value delivery to the firm owing to their ability to motivate employees and thus enhance their productivity. It is clearly essential for a firm considering to generate value through the human capital resource to consider adopting variable pay and insurance cover within the compensation and benefits package.
However, as both have their limitations in applicability, a firm should consider applying the two approaches together with other complimentary approaches so as to essentially generate sustainable value in the long run.
The compensation and benefits constituent of the human resource department in the firm presents a unique yet complex role. As the firm`s most important resource is the human capital; whose input and efforts is rewarded through compensation and benefits, it thus implies that the level of input or productivity of the human capital is directly proportional to the value of compensation and benefits package.
The firm is operates under an unwritten objective of value maximization from the resources available. This has the implication that the human capital should generate value for the firm in order to retain its essence. Compensation and benefits take diverse forms and each organization has the liberty to adopt whichever form that appeals or delivers value.
However, there are also legal and industry standards in the compensation and benefits that firms must meet. This presents the basic requisite which in essence may not generate any additional value for the firm. This leaves the human resource function with a greater and complex role of determining what compensation and benefits approached avail value maximization to the firm.
Apparently, variable pay and insurance cover emerge as compensation and benefit package with much accolade on their ability to cultivate a highly productive human capital and essentially generate substantial value for the firm. Additionally, variable pay and insurance have been adopted in firms and perceived by employees as fair considerations within the compensation and benefits package.
There exist various challenges in the adoption and application of variable pay and insurance cover within the compensation and benefits package. The diversity of insurance covers available and their general nature across the industries deem it as a minimal effort by the firm and hence may only generate limited value. Variable pay on the other hand presents a reliable compensation approach for both firms and the employees because it applies the compensation for work duly done approach.
However, in as much as it may generate value for the firm, it suffers various limitations especially where work may not be quantified or output per employee determined. It bring in the necessity of different work quantifying scales which may in turn result in conflicts. Conflicts are counter-productive and hence limit the firms` ability to leverage on the human capital. It is however possible for a firm to leverage on the value of the human capital by creatively applying the variable pay and insurance cover within the compensation and benefits package.
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