The basic objective of compensation management can be briefly termed as meeting the needs of both employees and the organisation. Since both these needs emerge from different sources, often, there is a conflict between the two. This conflict can be understood by agency theory which explains relationship between employees and employers. The theory suggests that employers and employees are two main stakeholders in a business unit, the former assuming the role of principals and the latter assuming the role of agents.
The compensation paid to employees is agency consideration. Each party to agency tries to fix this consideration in its own favor. The employers want to pay as little as possible to keep their costs low. Employees want to get as high as possible. The compensation management tries to strike a balance between these two with following specific objectives:
1. Attracting and Retaining Personnel
From organisation’s point of view, the compensation management aims at attracting and retaining right personnel in the organisation. In the Indian corporate scene, there is no dearth of personnel at operative levels but the problems come at the managerial and technical levels particularly for growing companies. Not only they require persons who are well qualified but they are also retained in the organisation. In the present day context, managerial turnover is a big problem particularly in high knowledge-based organisations.
2. Motivating Personnel
Compensation management aims at motivating personnel for higher productivity. Monetary compensation has its own limitations in motivating people for superior performance. Alfie Kohn (an American author and lecturer who has explored a number of topics in education, parenting, and human behavior.) has gone to the extent of arguing that corporate incentive plans not only fail to work as intended but also undermine the objectives they intend to achieve. He argues that this is due to inadequate psychological assumptions on which reward systems are based. His conclusions are as follows:
- Rewards punish people-their use confirms that someone else is in control of the employee.
- Rewards rupture relationships-they create competition where teamwork and collaboration are desired.
- Rewards ignore reasons-they relieve managers from the urgent need to explore why an employee is effective or ineffective.
- Rewards discourage risk taking-employees tend to do exactly what is required to earn the reward, and not any more.
- Rewards undermine interest-they distract both manager and the employee from consideration of intrinsic motivation.
Notwithstanding these arguments, compensation management can be designed to motivate people through monetary compensation to some extent.
3. Optimizing Cost of Compensation
Compensation management aims at optimizing cost of compensation by establishing some kind of linkage with performance and compensation. It is not necessary that higher level of wages and salaries will bring higher performance automatically but depends on the kind of linkage that is established between performance and wages and salaries. Compensation management tries to attempt at this.
4. Consistency in Compensation
Compensation management tries to achieve consistency-both internal and external-in compensating employees. Internal consistency involves payment on the basis of criticality of jobs and employees’ performance on jobs. Thus, higher compensation is attached to higher-level jobs. Similarly, higher compensation is attached to higher performers in the same job. Level of jobs within an organisation is determined by job evaluation. External consistency involves similar compensation for a job in all organisations. Though there are many factors involved in the determination of wage and salary structure for a job in an organisation which may result into some kind of disparity in the compensation of a particular job as compared to other organisations, compensation management tries to reduce this disparity.