The revolution started with the personalization of social benefits has already moved to the emotional salary to stop being a mere element of the landscape and become one of the axes of total compensation and thus improve efficiency and retributive. 

After the crisis, we face the great challenge of integrating a new model of employment relationship where the main protagonist is the person.

All companies have had to necessarily move towards new, more effective remuneration policies to achieve their objectives of attraction, motivation and retention of talent and allow them to pay more efficiently, maximizing the perception of value of the professional of all economic efforts and emotional that the organization does for him or her.

Now we understand for total compensation, everything that an employee, or candidate to be, perceives as compensation for their decision to work in a certain organization. It is a complex concept in its implementation that is formed by monetary retribution, social benefits and emotional elements of the compensation, the emotional salary, that overlap and reinforce each other.

More than ten years ago, we denounced that the classic retributive models, based only on a monetary remuneration and a meager and homogeneous package of social benefits, had become obsolete to face the challenge of winning in the conquest for talent.

Focusing on the latter, we showed at that time how the reduced policies of social benefits, general and impersonal, were useless in many cases since spending on these social benefits was perceived as a part of the employee’s compensation for a lack of communication of the price and the advantages associated with it or, what is worse, not adapting to your personal and family needs.

The ideal solution to these problems was to allow each professional, attending to their personal and family needs, at any time to choose the composition of their remuneration package voluntarily agreeing with their company that a part of their remuneration was used to hire the products and services included in the menu offered. And this is how flexible compensation plans were born. Most companies already have a flexible compensation plan, democratizing the granting of social benefits to all members of the company without necessarily increasing the salary costs of the organization by withdrawing from the compensation that the employee had agreed to receive. In other companies they have gone a step further and have allowed professionals to change the products and services previously included in the policy of social benefits by others that are better suited to their situation, making the model more flexible.

How have organizations taken profit from this policy change? Spectacularly, with the personalization of social benefit policies through salary substitution, companies have been able to offer all their employees, regardless of the sector, remuneration or job, solutions tailored to their personal and family needs, making sure they know the cost of all elements of their remuneration and that are valued one hundred percent, having been chosen individually. In addition, thanks to the discounts obtained by the company in the negotiation with suppliers and the beneficial tax treatment that Spanish legislation grants to certain forms of compensation, employees who draw on this type of compensation see how it increases their net availability without having to increase salary costs. That is to say, it becomes a competitive advantage of the companies that implement it when they manage to pay more with the same cost thanks to these economic and fiscal benefits.

And what has happened to the emotional salary during these years? I am convinced that, although being in a discreet background during these years, it has already become the distinguishing element par excellence of the best companies to work in their conquest of professionals through personalized and efficient policies. But attention, only if it is managed correctly.


We could define the emotional salary as all that non-financial compensation, whether monetary or not. It includes such valuable and disparate elements as the integration of professional life in the personnel, recognition, training and development, work environment, culture, etc. All companies have emotional salary and, unlike salary and social benefits, this can be negative and subtract in the perception of full compensation of the professional.

After promoting the personalization of social benefits during the last fifteen years, the following reflections appear as a déjà vu in the discourse. Let’s analyze what happened in many organizations with the integration policies and measures (conciliation, for methodological purposes) of the professional life in the personnel during the last years.

More and more companies are incorporating into their framework of labor relations, directly through collective agreements and legislative initiatives or individually as a result of their corporate values, different measures aimed at favoring the conciliation of their professionals.

After analyzing many companies these years, we can see that far from considering these elements as an essential part of the total compensation of their professionals, as competitive elements and differentials in their value proposition for talent management, most have “archived” exclusively as acquired rights dormant in the drawer of the person in charge of labor relations, giving the success of its implantation to the social representation. As if the company had not signed it too. As a result of this treatment, these measures are not actively communicated, the real impact it has on the people of the organization is not known, whether they are valued or not, or what economic value they might have in the worker’s mind.

Even in companies that, for their culture, have enhanced the introduction of this type of measures that make up the emotional salary in its value proposition for talent management, have not applied the same requirements to ensure the efficiency of retribution. Sometimes, it is not known how many people take profit of these initiatives, the degree of impact they have and whether we are protecting all the groups of the organization equally or only some of them. In short, and despite the goodwill of organizations, we are often designing a landscape element of the company instead of effective and efficient measures.

In the same way that we proclaimed ten years ago, and now more convinced than ever, social benefits have to be personalized so that they can be valued by professionals through flexible compensation, now is the time to incorporate all elements of emotional salary, with special attention to conciliation. But attention, the management of the conciliation presents many more difficulties than the management of social benefits for HR directions.

Today more than ever, the conquest of talent requires attractive policies tailored to each professional, efficient for the organization, inspired by the principles of total compensation through the presentation of a customized and flexible employee value proposal that incorporates all the elements.

Carlos Delgado PlanásCEO