WorldatWork’s 2023 Total Rewards Professional Career Study Reveals Crucial Insights into Career Experiences

Majority express satisfaction with roles and accomplishments

A significant skills gap exceeding 10% was revealed

95% agree that training and developing new skills are paramount

August 07, 2023

Scottsdale, ArizonaWorldatWork, the Total Rewards association, has conducted an in-depth Total Rewards Professional Career Study, exploring the demographics, essential skills, and career aspirations of today's Total Rewards professionals.

The vast majority of respondents expressed satisfaction with their career accomplishments as well as their current job roles. While 25% are still developing the skills they need to excel in their current roles, over 30% stated that they possess the skills required to handle more demanding duties.

Respondents emphasized the importance of problem-solving (94%), communication (91%), and relationship building (88%) as the most essential skills. While analytics also garnered substantial recognition, other technical skills such as labor market navigation (71%) and general technical expertise (81%) were perceived as less vital.

Notably, the survey unveiled a significant gap between the perceived importance of these skills and respondents' self-assessment of their proficiency. In several areas, including strategic acumen, communication, and financial acumen, the gap exceeded 10%. An overwhelming 95% agree that getting training and developing new skills throughout their work life in order to keep up with changes in the workplace is essential or important.

According to Marta Turba, vice president of content strategy at WorldatWork, "The evolving social and organizational landscape demands that Total Rewards professionals continuously sharpen their toolkit. Technical skills remain essential to success, but the current business environment calls for a wider range of solutions to meet the long-term effects of changes in employee sentiment and a tight labor market. Professionals equipped with agile problem-solving and authentic communication skills have emerged as top performers in the field. To enhance organizational outcomes, there is a growing demand for aptitude in cross-functional partnership and initiative leadership, as well as insights derived from workforce analytics which have the power to shape personalized rewards systems enhanced people experiences.” 

Additional Key Findings:

  • Career Success: Skills development, managerial support, and formal education were identified as the most influential factors contributing to their success followed by professional certifications. Lack of opportunities within their current employer and internal politics within organizations were cited as hindering success.

  • Career Aspirations: About half (46-51%) of mid-to-senior-level professionals indicated they have no plans to change roles in the next year. But more than a quarter of mid-level (30%), and senior (26%) professionals expressed openness to new opportunities, while nearly 10% of executives shared the same sentiment. 

  • Leadership Goals: Long term, nearly one-third (32%) expressed their ambition to grow and transition into Total Rewards leadership roles. Another 20% expressed interest in stretching beyond Total Rewards, including those who aspire to become Chief HR Officers, take up board positions, or serve on WorldatWork steering committees or councils.

  • Future Outlook: Of the remaining participants, about 35% were interested in further specialization within the Total Rewards space, while the final 13% are split between those looking towards retirement (6%) and those with unique career plans outside of these categories (7%). Among those planning retirement, almost half (42%) expressed a desire to continue playing a role in Total Rewards through board service, teaching, or consulting work.

For more information on the Total Rewards Professional Career Study and its findings, please visit The Total Rewards Profession in 2023.

Note: Journalists may request a complimentary copy of the study report by contacting Judy Kalvin,


The study encompassed a diverse sample of participants, totaling more than 775 individuals from various industries and organizations, surveyed over the course of May-June 2023.

Participants in this study mainly occupy mid-to-senior level positions (80%) with the remaining 20% split between executive roles (8%), emerging-level roles (6%), and consulting roles (6%). About half of them (53%) hold supervisory responsibilities. The survey highlights the diverse nature of daily tasks for these professionals. 

About WorldatWork

WorldatWork is the leading global nonprofit association for professionals engaged in the critically important practice of Total Rewards. We serve those who are responsible for cultivating inspired, engaged, productive and committed workers in effective and rewarding workplaces. We guide them in the design and delivery of Total Rewards programs with our membership, education, certification, idea exchange, thought leadership, knowledge creation, information sharing, research, and networking. For more than 65 years, WorldatWork has served Total Rewards professionals throughout the world working in organizations of all sizes and structures. Professionals from more than 93% of Fortune 500® organizations rely on WorldatWork for Total Rewards solutions.

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