Confessions of a benefits manager: Candid attends team planning meetings.


Big Bad Boss has had something of a promotion; he is now responsible for talent acquisition, as well as reward and HR data. The intention, of course, is that we will all work more closely together in these crazy inflationary times. The reality is rather different.

Big Bad Boss has decided he cannot cope with having one-to-ones with this larger team so he is going to catch up with us all in one big weekly meeting. He has asked me (since when am I the administrator?) to set up a planning tool to record everyone’s projects so we can review them together. I feel a sense of impending doom.

Weekly calls

I am not wrong; the first weekly call takes an hour and a half, and it is brutal. I have listed all my projects by priority. I have put my colleague Lazy Susan’s tasks on there too, but all the rest of them we tediously add during the first call. Talent acquisition, not known for intellectual supremacy, have a way with words I will give them that. They can make a tiny little task sound like it deserves a Nobel prize. As I have been lumbered as scribe this week, I’m dutifully filling in all the boxes for their so-called projects. Now I feel like I am acting as admin for the talent acquisition team too. This is not sustainable. I set up a rota for meeting ‘chair’ to make sure we all take a turn.

Nevertheless, I am beginning to dread Mondays. Not only is it soporifically boring to sit through, I do not actually need to know any of it. I particularly do not need to hear Rita the Robot (the head of talent acquisition), drone on and on about how important her work is and how incredibly busy she is. We all are, love, but we do not go on about it. Rita the Robot has a particularly grating voice; it sets my teeth on edge. She enunciates very clearly like she is speaking to a particularly dim-witted child. It is true Lazy Susan is on the call, but for the rest of us it just comes across as condescending verging on disrespect.

The following week, Big Bad Boss is away, but he suggests we hold the team meeting without him to ‘inform each other’. I do not think we need to and this is another 90 minutes of my life I will not get back. Rita, on the other hand, is delighted. Not only does she get to hold court on her own importance, without Big Bad Boss as moderator, she can use the meeting as an opportunity to stick her knife into me. With this irritating patronising voice, she questions me when I go through my projects. She asks stupid unnecessary questions like ‘when is the next pension trustee meeting?’ and ‘when will the due diligence on the benefits for the potential acquisition be completed?’. Does any of this have anything to do with recruitment? Is it any of the wretched robot’s business? No, it is not.

Working together

Honestly, the more I get to know the wider team, the less collaborative I feel. I get how talent acquisition and reward should work together, so we can stay on top of compensation trends, but all that really seems to be happening is reward is picking more and more of talent’s work. For example, this pulse survey came in on recruitment practices. Because Rita, her hand to her forehead, is so overloaded (inefficient I think), she has conned Big Bad Boss into dividing the survey up among the wider team. That means I have to do part and so does Lazy Susan. It will not take long to do, but it is demoralising to be told what to do by a junior colleague with a second-rate degree in media studies. Even Lazy Susan is riled. Seriously, I feel like we have been dumped in the typing pool.

Worse, on a weekly basis we must now listen to the woes of Moany Mona of the mobility team. She is another one who comes in clutching her forehead dramatically with the sheer volume of her workload. We have had a sudden influx of employee-initiated transfers, but Mona tosses anything to do with compensation over the wall to us. The process for employee-initiated moves is simple: we calculate the salary in the new country by reference to the position in the pay-range in the old country. There is even a little fill-in-the-blanks spreadsheet to help calculate, but Mona refuses to have anything to do with it. Really, a monkey could do it. I mean Lazy Susan can do it, but she should not have to pick up their work.

Big Bad Boss is away once again, and this week Rita-the-Robot is due to chair our online meeting. She claims she cannot share her screen, so I will have to share mine instead and type things in for her. Really? I challenge because she was sharing her screen earlier that morning. She says her laptop sometimes plays up because of overwork. Moany says hers does too, with a smirk in her voice. It is like being back in the playground with a pair of bullies. Never mind, next time Big Bad Boss is away, I will plan a conflicting meeting so do not have deal with this petty nonsense.

In fact, I have noticed that Big Bad Boss has been away rather a lot on Mondays himself. Could it be that he hates these meetings as much as I do? I tell him how long the meetings are getting now, and perhaps we should go back to one-to-ones with the team leaders only, after all, he need not get involved in the nitty-gritty below that. He agrees, and before he can change his mind, I have cancelled the weekly team meeting and set up my own weekly catch-up. Phew.

Next time: Candid works on a training programme.