Gallagher's analysis of a private pharmaceutical college's total rewards offering uncovered information that led to a decision reversal credited with retaining long-term faculty and staff.

Author: Thomas Rylko


Client summary

  • Private pharmaceutical college
  • Fewer than 200 employees
  • Pandemic-fueled struggle with competitiveness and retention of long-term, mid-career faculty and staff
  • Need to control costs

Challenge: Balance employee's long-term financial security with current salary

While the college's average salaries stood below market rates, their total rewards package featured an above-market non-elective contribution of 11% toward employee retirement funds. In a cost-cutting effort, the institution dropped the non-elective contribution from 11% to 5%.

Employees soundly rejected this move. Fearing an exodus of experienced faculty and staff, leaders considered an amendment to their decision. They considered adjusting the offering to include a 5% non-elective contribution and a 5% elective contribution. Leaders perceived the change as a minimal 1% reduction from the original 11% contribution.

The HR team invited Gallagher to assess the total rewards package to ensure it met employee wants and needs to support overall competitiveness.

Solution: Gallagher-facilitated focus groups uncovered top employee priorities

Through Gallagher-facilitated focus groups, leaders learned that employees placed a high value on retirement security. Below-market salaries meant many employees couldn't contribute to their retirement fund. However, employees were willing to accept a slightly below-market base pay paired with a high non-elective retirement match.

Results: Refocused total rewards strategy prioritized retention

Focus group perspectives helped college leaders to rethink their strategy. The HR team refocused the total rewards package to reflect what employees said they value most  —  long-term security. Returning to a high, non-elective retirement contribution underpinned the college's retention strategy.

Gallagher's Compensation Consulting and Total Rewards team can help your organization tailor a total rewards plan to attract and keep your people. Contact us for a conversation.


Consulting and insurance brokerage services to be provided by Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc. and/or its affiliate Gallagher Benefit Services (Canada) Group Inc. Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc. is a licensed insurance agency that does business in California as "Gallagher Benefit Services of California Insurance Services" and in Massachusetts as "Gallagher Benefit Insurance Services." Neither Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., nor its affiliates provide accounting, legal or tax advice.