Surprise Bonus or Standard Benefit? Studies Indicate Shift in Employees’ Compensation Expectations

There’s also a direct correlation between a company’s culture and compensation value, which Zebra understands. That’s why Zebra is such an amazing place to work.

A family sits on a couch and talks to a benefits counselor.
by Mike Terzich
November 01, 2019

Compensation is something that every single person cares about when considering a job opportunity – or considering whether their current job is the right one. In fact, compensation was cited as the top reason (66 percent) why people leave their jobs in a 2018 study from Payscale.com, with personal reasons (67 percent) being the number one influence.  

However, the definition of “compensation” is subjective, and cash is not necessarily king anymore. In fact, the top reason why people accept a job? Location, according to a 2018 Ceridian report. Location! Work-life balance was the next biggest influence, followed by salary.

If that’s not proof that money doesn’t matter (as much) anymore, I don’t know what is.

In case you’re wary of what I just said: study after study has shown that most people are now willing to compromise on salary if they feel as though they are being rewarded in other ways.

Sometimes, that means being offered a position they deem to be physically, mentally or emotionally rewarding. For example, Lexington Law reports that nearly 60 percent of Americans would take a job they love over a job they hate, even if the preferred position paid half the amount of salary they would earn at the job they dislike.

Other times, it’s the “perks” that take precedent. Qualtrics reports that “benefits are extremely or very important to employer loyalty” among the majority of Millennials. The feedback received through other research studies echoes that sentiment – across all generations of workers.

But which “perks” will pique the interest of job candidates or secure the loyalty of current employees?

Something else that matters (and should be included as part of a well-rounded benefits package): recognition. One Gallup poll found that a mere one-third of all workers in the U.S. felt that they had received proper recognition for good work in the last seven days, leaving millions of workers discouraged and dissatisfied. As Gallup went on to suggest, improving merit practices could be a low-cost/high-impact way to “compensate” employees and improve retention.

But the message that job seekers and career employees alike are sending is that “compensation” is not just calculated in terms of cash-related benefits and it’s not a cut-and-dry formula. A company’s culture very much comes into play, often demonstrated in the “fringe benefits,” and a well-rounded compensation and benefits package is non-negotiable.

Here at Zebra, we hear you loud and clear.

Zebra Takes Note – and Action

As Zebra CFO Olivier Leonetti bluntly stated in a recent interview: Zebra’s success over the last 50 years stems from its culture and, more specifically, its people.

Today, there are more than 7,400 Zebra employees who work tirelessly to design, develop and deliver the technology tools that companies of all sizes and all industries need to succeed in a competitive marketplace. Their accomplishments are numerous and impactful on a global scale. Zebra’s growth is a reflection of the unrelenting effort put forth by each individual and the extraordinary teamwork that each employee embraces. Our collective strength has moved mountains in terms of technological progress – from barcoding to mobility to RFID and, more recently, intelligent edge solutions driven by Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence and more.

But that is not what leaves the greatest impression on me.

As an HR professional, I am honored that every one of these 7,400+ employees chose Zebra. They are talented, accomplished and all-around outstanding individuals. That makes them highly marketable to other companies. (Shhh, don’t tell them.)

In all seriousness, each member of the Zebra family could probably work anywhere he or she wanted. Yet, every single one chose Zebra. Many have been here for decades, including our CEO. (Did you know there have only been two CEOs in Zebra’s 50+ year history?) Others on our team worked for Zebra early in their careers and left to explore new opportunities, and eventually returned “home.”

What makes Zebra so attractive, you might be asking? Why do so many people choose Zebra?

In my opinion, it’s our welcoming culture, our spirit of “collective success,” our commitment to our communities and our unique compensation model – which goes far beyond competitive salaries and the standard (i.e. expected) healthcare or paid leave benefits.

Zebra employees get credit – I’m talking tangible rewards – for moving those mountains. Even the smallest contributions are celebrated.

For example, we have a program called GEM, which stands for “Going the Extra Mile.” Anytime colleagues do something that we feel merits recognition, we submit those efforts into the GEM system and they get points that can be redeemed for goodies in our GEM catalog. Cool things too, such as travel, event tickets, merchandise and more. What’s even cooler is the amount of recognition given to one another. At our quarterly town hall meetings, GEM recipients are recognized up on the big screen. Ironically, the font has to be shrunk down so small to fit everyone’s names on the slide that it’s hard to read the names. That is how many people receive GEM recognition – from colleagues, not just their supervisors.

I have to say, I’ve been with Zebra for 28 years and I will tell you, this is probably the least competitive group of colleagues I’ve ever had. Don’t get me wrong, Zebras are highly ambitious professionals. As individuals, we want to make the greatest impact for our customers, the company and our communities. But we embrace the power of the “collective mind.” We cheer each other on, and we challenge each other to be our best selves every day – to equally compel individual, team, company and customer success.

Of course, that starts with acceptance – which starts at the top. Zebra’s leadership team is big on Inclusion & Diversity. They have made it their personal mission to ensure that our benefits include membership in “inclusion networks and social clubs,” each of which offers free resources and provides support to employees personally and professionally in many different ways.

Zebra’s leaders also approach work as just one part of a well-balanced life.

Flexible schedules, telecommuting and #FreeFridays are the norm here. Taking personal time off (PTO) is highly encouraged, and no one stresses when team members are out. We simply adjust, reprioritizing and rebalancing the workload as needed so that our colleagues don’t have to worry that balls are being dropped while they’re away. (Again, Zebras are exceptionally supportive of one another.)

Sometimes, we’ll even check out of the office as entire teams to check in with our communities. For example, we received paid time off this summer to participate in the #50HourChallenge, one of Zebra’s many community service initiatives. (Though, I think the compensation was just a bonus for most of us, as Zebras tend to be charitable on their own accord. Just look at what people like Lorna Hopkin, Tom Boehm, Chris Foley and others do in their free time, of their own free will.)

With our bosses and colleagues encouraging us to do what we need to do to re-energize from time to time – and actually reminding us that work isn’t our entire life – we are motivated to work even harder when we are on the clock. That, of course, contributes to our individual and collective success.

It also helps that Zebra invests heavily in employees’ growth and offers a lot of flexibility in our career trajectories. Whether we want to “climb straight up the ladder” or prefer to grow in a more horizontal “lattice” manner to gain new skill sets and enjoy new experiences, Zebra will provide the learning tools and mentorship needed to help us achieve our goals via the Zebra Education Network. I think that’s partially why you see such longevity here at Zebra. People can start “a new job” and take on a new challenge in a completely different department without ever leaving the company – or getting dinged for moving around. We actually have programs that advocate for career moves and job rotations.

At the same time, we’re committed to empowering employees to capture their edge by providing a culture that promotes active living, emotional fitness, social engagement, and financial stability. For example, we have a well-being program called “Well Track” which is integrated with our rewards and recognition program called GEM through which employees can earn GEM points by completing certain well-being activities.  These GEM points can then be redeemed for merchandise, travel, event tickets and more.  Personal growth is as much of a priority as professional growth.

In other words, Zebra is an amazing company to work for because it doesn’t just acknowledge that culture, career growth and compensation matter. It takes continuous action to improve all three. Zebra constantly invests in new programs, introduces new “perks” and expands upon those that are already in place to ensure employees are receiving the benefits that they value most. The way Zebra sees it: if you’re willing to invest in us (as a company), we’re willing to invest in you (as a person, not just an employee).

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Editor’s Note: You can learn more about Zebra’s culture and comprehensive compensation and benefits package in the Careers section of our website.

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Mike Terzich
Michael H. Terzich became chief officer for human resources and other corporate administrative functions at Zebra in December 2014 after overseeing the sales and marketing of Zebra products worldwide for eight years.




















































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