Written by
Changeboard Team

Published
20 Dec 2013

Room for incentives: Interview with Jean-Pierre Noel, SVP global reward, InterContinental Hotels Gr

20 Dec 2013 • by Changeboard Team

The benefits

Our corporate staff receive a basic guaranteed annual salary and performance-related bonus. They are also entitled to benefits including childcare vouchers, retirement and healthcare plans, and discount rates at our hotels and more than 8,000 retailers. Senior executives are eligible to company shares. Mainly, though, we incentivise our people by providing a positive working environment. 

Twice a year we conduct an employee engagement survey and run events such as Celebrate Service Week and Careers Week. We also have an online reward and recognition tool called Bravo which enables colleagues to thank each other, and managers to financially reward individuals and teams for extra effort. This recognition can be made visible through a news feed on the intranet.

The challenge of recession

The economic crisis has encouraged wiser spending on reward and benefits. Companies might look harder for cost saving opportunities through preferred provider relationships with vendors and explore synergies through vehicles such as the multinational pooling of risk benefits. There may also be more critical evaluation of whether financial incentive plans are driving the required behaviours and results, and greater focus on non-financial incentives to attract and retain top talent.

Valuing and embedding reward

We review reward arrangements regularly to ensure they support and drive the business vision and strategy. This is done via interviews with key stakeholders, surveys, focus groups and data analysis. 

We explain to our shareholders how reward is grounded in the strategic objectives in the company’s annual report and accounts, detailing how the variable elements of pay for senior executives is closely aligned with the performance of the business.

Every year, the HR leadership team defines the function’s one-year and three-year plan, ensuring the reward strategy meets the needs of the business and is aligned with other HR priorities and initiatives. It’s a big challenge to keep HR processes, systems and data consistent globally. We are working on implementing a new system to launch in June 2014.

Being a good reward professional

Strong commercial acumen is crucial for gaining credibility and influence with business leaders and being able to use reward strategically. Reward professionals also need to have a broad perspective, for example by gaining experience in another function or as an HR generalist. Unless you work for a large company, opportunities for career progression may be limited so it’s important to develop external networks and keep up with trends.