This time of year is typically when employees are given their annual performance reviews, as well as any increase in compensation that might be warranted based upon that performance.

So…what did you get?

Okay, just kidding. I only wanted to grab your attention, because this is an issue that some employees don’t think about in a very detailed fashion. This is especially the case since in today’s market, only top performers can expect to receive a raise.

During a time when companies are continually searching for ways in which to boost productivity and decrease costs, this strategy is more than likely here to stay. With that in mind, it’s important to note that the way in which companies compensate their employees is continuing to evolve, and raises are becoming less and less a part of the equation. Instead, more companies are opting for compensation in the form of bonuses and one-time rewards. These rewards aren’t entirely monetary-based, either. They could also take the form of a more flexible schedule or extra paid time off.

In short, companies are rewarding employees in a fashion that will decrease their long-term fixed salary costs. The question is this: what does this mean for you?

Well, first of all, you should have a very clear understanding of your employer’s compensation structure. Not every company is utilizing a variable rewards program, but some could be planning to start, or they might be considering a combination of new compensation strategies and traditional methods.

Take these three steps to better gauge your employer’s situation:

1. Meet with your supervisor to discuss the company’s current structure.
2. Ask about the different forms of compensation available to you and how you can achieve them.
3. Express your desire to be a top performer, and then ask your supervisor to help you brainstorm ways in which you can accomplish that.

Not only will your supervisor appreciate (and note) your initiative, you will have a clear understanding of the company’s compensation structure and how to maximize it. This understanding will also help you to evaluate whether or not the raise you received—if you received one—is enough to retain your value as an employee.