Compensation Design

"Designed and used appropriately, rewards contribute to results by strengthening alignment between talent and strategy."– Shockproof: How to Hardwire your Business for Lasting Success

Employers make substantial investments in compensation, often with minimal returns. The common practice of keeping up with the market can result in a “me-too” focus that leads to poor decision-making. Because compensation is such a significant element of organizations’ fixed costs, the challenge is to make investment decisions related to rewards with the same level of rigor and discipline that is applied to other important investments.

We believe that

  • Compensation is more than just pay. It includes benefits, culture, career and work environment that reflect the unique attributes, objectives and context of an organization.
  • The best solutions are the most simple, whether they involve compensation, benefits, culture, career or work environment.
  • Compensation design must evolve. In order to remain relevant and effective compensation design must consider internal elements such as business strategy as well as external influences such as customers, competition and economic conditions.
  • Rewards typically address or enhance will-do issues or opportunities (motivation) rather than can-do (capability) opportunities, and should be deployed accordingly.
  • Employees need transparency in order to fully participate and engage in a rewards program. Communicate "why" as well as "what" and "when."

Our Approach

  • Work directly with senior leadership to develop a compensation program that is a component of business strategy, providing guidance for how rewards should reflect culture, respond to competition, and link to performance.
  • Apply proven business strategy development and implementation tools to the development and implementation of total compensation solutions.
  • Gather relevant data and conduct rigorous analyses to support decision-making. Build on existing processes and integrate data from varied sources to generate new insights (operations, financial reporting, HR systems).
  • Develop and communicate an integrated approach that aligns employee and employer compensation, benefits, culture, career, and work environment priorities.
  • Establish and apply assessment criteria to monitor results and maximize ROI.


  • More cost-effective investment of compensation dollars.
  • A performance culture reinforced by employees who understand what is important, what they need to do to help the organization succeed and what’s in it for them if they do.
  • More effective recruiting and improved retention through clarifying and strengthening the employee value proposition.

Read our 2013-2014 Compensation Budget Projection Analysis

Read CFO Magazine's article, An Incentive to Control Incentive Pay, featuring Axiom's Juan Pablo Gonzalez. “CFOs don’t often get involved with human-resources issues, but when it comes to incentive compensation, they should,” says Gonzalez. “At a minimum, the CFO’s team should be involved in running payout calculations and performance curves against various assumptions about the company’s performance. But the greater value is in having the CFO look behind the numbers to assess whether bonuses are really driving the behavior that supports company strategy.”