Confessions of a benefits manager: Candid takes charge of the benefits intranet page

Confessions of a benefits manager

It is a quiet time right now in reward; in between annual enrolment and various renewals, we can work on things that have fallen to the bottom of the pile. For months I have been wanting to get my hands on the benefits intranet site, so now is my chance.

I have been told we have an award-winning employee-facing site. It was Colin, the head of marketing communications, who said it so it must be true. I must admit you can find pretty much anything you need on there and the search facilities are incredible. But I am ashamed that the reward pages have never been properly thought through.

It is not the detail; by necessity all my benefit descriptions and enrolment links are accurate and up to date, it is just there is no overall structure. The site won awards for its clever colour-coded icons spelling out the company values and mission with simple diagrams. I have a vision of something similar for our reward pages.

Design concepts

I put the concept to Big Bad Boss using a rough outline I have put together in Powerpoint. I create a diagram to to show total reward broken into constituent parts each logically grouped into consistent buckets for pay, financial, health, and wellbeing headings. Just like the vision and mission icons, I colour code different types of benefits based on the category. Linking everything back to a total reward diagram, we can reinforce that any benefit is part of a suite of reward offerings. From the overall reward infographic, an employee would be able to drill down into each bucket to get to details of a specific benefit. At the moment, we use different terminology on different pages, and I would really like us to look more structured and consistent. However, my diagram is a clunky thing borne of Powerpoint and I would like to get it done professionally. That way we would be able to use the same colours for any ongoing communications, almost creating a brand for the reward team.

Big Bad Boss is not exactly excited about it but seems happy enough for me to go ahead. He warns me not to use the word ‘brand’ with the marketing team. It seems it is very protective about the term and will think I am trying to mess with the company brand. You would have to be an idiot to think that is what I intend, but better to be safe than sorry.

Colin is off-site at a meeting one of the awarding bodies, so I meet with his sidekick. Yes, they can help me with an infographic, but it would have to go to an agency which would be very expensive. I look around at the sea of desks that would be filled with marketing communication people if they were ever in the office. Really, can’t we do something like that in house? Well, I could ask Dave the designer.

The elusive designer

Dave is rather elusive. He cannot make a meeting, though Teams shows him as available all day. He asks me to put what I want into an email. I can, but I think it would be easier to try to explain. I get the feeling Dave is either an introvert, or one of those people who likes to keep a low profile to minimise workload.

Eventually, he agrees to create a total reward diagram, but it will not be until the end of the month. Can he incorporate a colour-coding system like the one we have for values? I recognise he is a professional who has created award-winning infographics so I hope that he will be able to suggest a better format and colour scheme. Yep, he says, at the end of the month.

The end of the month comes and still no infographic. Meanwhile, I have set up a meeting with various international HR people to agree some consistent reward headings. Uff. It is like trying to get 17 hungry kittens in a box. The US contingent does not like the word ‘pension’ and wants to use ‘retirement’ and it gets so heated I have to settle for ‘pension/retirement’ which will look ugly on the diagram. In fact, I am struggling to get agreement on even the overall headings such as ‘health benefits’ because the US wants to say ‘medical’ and refuses to say ‘insurance’ because all its benefits are considered insurance. I am trying to find the broadest categories while still being clear to employees. It seems there is no common language even with our team, so I decide on the best fit.

Chasing outstanding work

I send the new headings over to Dave as this is an excuse to send him a reminder. He refuses a call but replies to say he does not like the headings and we should be making more of insurance as it is a very generous benefit at this company. This is straying well outside of his design remit, but I let it go.

Another month passes and I still have no infographic. Dave tells me he has been co-opted to help with an employee branding issue and he will get to it later. Annoyingly, reward communication is very much part of employee branding, but we continue to be left out of any glossy marketing activity. Worse, I get asked to work on a small acquisition so the whole thing will have to be parked once again.

Later, I hear that the marketing communications team has won another award for its employee branding and Colin is once again flavour of the month. It is a shame he seems to spend most of his time smooching up the awarding bodies rather than getting his team help us, but the Higher Beings love him.

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Luckily, I did not get round to putting the benefits intranet project on my objectives, so I will add it to next year instead. Big Bad Boss probably won’t even remember we talked about it. That is how much anyone cares. I care. Sigh.

Next time…Candid reviews strategy