Employee benefits are well known for helping with staff attraction and retention. However, there’s no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to staff. So how do you use employee benefits to reward and engage people who are motivated by widely different things?

Tech business guru Kim Scott maintains that the key thing leaders need to understand is what matters to each member of their team, and what their ‘growth trajectory’ is.

This can change over time, but it’s worth identifying who your ‘superstars’ are and who your ‘rock stars’ are, as Kim calls them, and lining up rewards that will suit both types.

Superstars and rock stars explained

Taking a look at where people are in their growth trajectory can be helpful when you’re choosing which benefits to provide for your employees. Offering benefits ultimately saves a company money, and research has shown that staff members tend to use up to four benefits at a time.

So, offering a range of benefits is helpful – both to them and you. And you want to make sure you’re providing a range to suit everyone, not just certain parts of your workforce.

Kim Scott was an executive at Google and Apple and a tech CEO coach. In her bestselling book Radical Candor she reveals how she came to see that her teams had two different types of workers, and that they needed different types of attention.

While at Google, Kim was a high-flier, and she regularly recruited other high-fliers just like her. She labels these employees her ‘super stars’.

But Kim soon learned that a team made up of one type of individual isn’t well-rounded and whole. There was high turnover as the high-fliers left for the next big thing. There was lots of internal competition, and attention to detail suffered. That’s when Kim came to appreciate the value of ‘rock stars’ in her team.

Superstars are the shiny hires who will stay for a year or two and do amazing work while they’re with you. Rock stars are the team ‘rocks’, the ones who know how things work and keep it all running. They are much less likely to have plans to move on, and your focus should be on rewarding and retaining them.

Understanding the growth trajectory of each member of your staff can be the key to unlocking how to develop and reward each one. Treating a rock star like a superstar and pushing them into a high-stress promotion could turn out to be a mistake.

If you’d like to find out more about rock star mode versus superstar mode, check out Kim Scott on this episode of her Radical Candor podcast. Once you understand the difference between these two modes, the next question is, how can you offer the right employee rewards for each mode?

Most employess tend to use four or more benefits
Graphs showing benefits take-up

Our recent research revealed that employees tend to use four or more benefits. You can find out more here.


Benefits for superstars

Superstar employees are the ones that will move quickly through different levels of your company. Then, they’ll either become rock stars themselves over time, or they’ll leave for a new challenge.

Attracting superstars in the first place is key, and a valued set of employee benefits are an important part of their overall package.

A good pension provision is likely to tempt superstars away from either self-employment or other companies offering less generous pensions. Even though pensions may sound like a ‘rock star’ benefit, the truth is that anyone with sense knows that saving into your pension early pays off hugely in later years. 

Gym membership discounts and cycle-to-work schemes will also be important to this cohort. Perhaps you might think of superstars as the stereotypical workaholic, chained to their desks all hours? But it’s more common for a high achiever today to take good care of their body so it takes good care of them. 

If your superstar has a family, workplace nursery benefits are another employee reward that most parents take advantage of, as it can save thousands of pounds a year. Superstars may wonder why you’re not offering this perk, if other people they know are getting it via their employer.

Private medical insurance, which supplements NHS services, may also be popular. It can improve speed of treatment, especially now due to longer NHS waiting times.

Benefits for rock stars

Rock stars are the bedrock of your business. People who are dependable and reliable, and know how to do their jobs well. They may be happy to stay in the same role because of their life circumstances. Or perhaps they enjoy the work that they do and prefer not to take on management or senior leadership responsibilities.

Flexible working is one salary-sacrifice benefit that may be very important to rock star employees. Perhaps they have young families, are studying outside of work, or just want a good work-life balance. Recognising rock stars’ contributions with rewards and recognition schemes will show your appreciation and keep them motivated. 

Discount clubs, where staff can save up to 40% on holidays, shopping, entertainment and days out, will indicate that you recognise the importance of enjoying life outside of work.

Shifting between superstar and rock star 

People don’t remain in one mode for their entire career. Offering a range of benefits to suit both modes will ensure that people can get value out of staff rewards, whatever stage they’re in.

Kim Scott gives the example of two aspiring Olympic athletes who were on her team at Google. They were on a gradual growth trajectory at work ,but a steep growth trajectory in sports. Five years later, both women were pouring all their drive and energy into their work rather than sports. Their career trajectories rocketed.

“Most people shift between a steep growth trajectory and a gradual growth trajectory in different phases of their lives and careers,” Kim says. “So it’s important not to put a permanent label on people.”

Understanding your staff and where they are in the growth trajectories will help you choose the right benefits for your workforce. We can advise on the right ones for your business, to make sure both your superstars and your rock stars are well looked after.


About Us

At Enjoy Benefits, we have great experience in helping companies of all sizes introduce benefits that are suitable for their workplace.

Benefits are easy to set up and ongoing administration is then run through a hub, allowing employees to manage their own benefits while the employer can see which benefits are proving popular and what level of take-up each has had.

If you would like an obligation free chat to discuss which benefits might work for your business and your employees, please contact us by calling 0800 088 7315 or using our Contact Form.