Jan 1, 2011


Over the last 15 years or so, a lot has been written about the concept of 'cafeteria' or 'flexible' remuneration packages. Most of the work, and the practice, originated in the United States and other countries such as Australia where the tax regime is helpful to this approach. The idea essentially is that employees should be offered the chance to select how they wish to be paid in terms of cash and benefits and so have their remuneration tailored to their personal ambitions and lifestyle.
Add a note hereFor executives in particular, the story does not end there. Many remuneration packages are individually negotiated and tailored at the time of recruitment to a board level appointment. As companies find that they cannot always promote to board level from within, they face increasingly tough negotiations on remuneration packages from those they seek to recruit from outside. In some cases the demand may not be for a package which is only nationally competitive, but for a globally competitive one, especially at the top of major multinationals. There are a number of reasons for this:
1.  Add a note hereDirectors, perhaps comfortably in post somewhere else and approached by executive search consultants, often feel they are in a good position to negotiate major improvements for themselves as an 'incentive' to move (they might be being enticed into a volatile and precarious environment where job security cannot be guaranteed, or one which is much more publicly exposed).
2.  Add a note herePeople are more aware than ever of market rates for top executives and see a move as an opportunity to 'catch up' to a more realistic level. People at board level usually expect a substantial improvement in earnings to make it worth their while to move. This can make recruiting top calibre directors from outside very expensive, unless they are working in a sector or organization where they are currently underpriced.
3.  Add a note hereDirectors may employ their own specialist remuneration and sometimes pension advisers to make sure they get a good deal.
4.  Add a note hereBeing an effective director generally goes with having an ambitious and assertive personality - it is unreal to expect such people not to be shrewd negotiators and to look after their own interests, especially if they perceive that they are being brought in to wake up a 'sleepy' organization. In such circumstances they will often see a shake-up on the pay front (which usually means moving to the more competitive end of market practice), as part of a necessary process of change.
Add a note hereHR directors, company secretaries and indeed chief executives increasingly therefore often need to be flexible when faced with demands from an executive they may have spent a long time trying to entice and will need to have:
§  Add a note herea willingness to tailor the remuneration package to fit individual requirements;
§  Add a note herea clear idea of which items of pay they are prepared to negotiate on;
§  Add a note herethe ability to cost out alternatives quickly;
§  Add a note herea maximum total earnings cost they are prepared to go to get the executive they are after;
§  Add a note herea prepared case to defend a package which other directors or even shareholders may initially perceive as an anomaly.


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