New WorldatWork Research Report is Guide to What Workers Want

As companies begin hiring again, what engagement levers should they pull during the recruitment phase? Are the same levers effective for motivating current employees and reducing turnover? These questions are answered in a new WorldatWork research report, “The Relative Influence of Total Rewards Elements on Attraction, Motivation and Retention,” by Stephanie C. Payne, Ph.D., Michael K. Shaub, Ph.D., Allison Cook, Margaret T. Horner, and Wendy R. Boswell, Ph.D., all of Texas A&M University.

The research examined the relative influence of the five elements of the WorldatWork Total Rewards model — compensation, benefits, work-life, recognition and career development — on employee attraction, motivation and retention. The report’s authors proposed that the relative importance of each element would differ depending on the outcome of interest.

“This new research has implications for organizational recruiting and retention,” said Ryan Johnson, CCP, Vice President of Research for WorldatWork. “The findings present opportunities for companies to rethink their reward elements, to prioritize, integrate and communicate them in ways that achieve desired outcomes.”

The study, which focused on accounting students, found that compensation became less important during the recruitment process while other reward elements, such as career development opportunities, became more important to job applicants. However, after several months on the job, motivation was significantly related to satisfaction with work-life rewards.

“Employers can be more strategic in how they communicate rewards,” said Stephanie C. Payne, Ph.D., Texas A&M University. “Employees are motivated by rewards when effort leads to performance, performance leads to rewards, and rewards are valued.”

About the Study
The study, made possible by a grant from WorldatWork, was presented for the first time on May 17 at the annual Total Rewards Conference and Exhibition in Grapevine, TX. From 2006 to 2009, researchers at Texas A&M University surveyed three cohorts of professional accounting college students (N = 633) at stages ranging from pre-recruiting to post-hire. A copy of The Relative Influence of Total Rewards Elements on Attraction, Motivation and Retention is available here.

About WorldatWork®:
The Total Rewards Association

WorldatWork ( is a global human resources association focused on compensation, benefits, work-life and integrated total rewards to attract, motivate and retain a talented workforce. Founded in 1955, WorldatWork provides a network of nearly 30,000 members in more than 100 countries with training, certification, research, conferences and community. It has offices in Scottsdale, Arizona and Washington, D.C.

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