Confessions of a benefits manager: Candid works on a new recognition platform

Confessions of a benefits manager

Does recognition fall under compensation or benefits? In my organisation, it sits in compensation, so I thought I was safe from getting involved in the new platform. I have been watching with interest as communications go out promising a new, exciting platform in a matter of weeks.

I should have known something was up when Big Bad Boss puts in a random meeting without any subject. What he has to say has me reeling. Jerry, the lead on the project has been signed off on permanent ill health and he will be unable to complete the implementation. As I once worked with him on some communications on the old platform, I am best placed to take over and complete the project. Really? I once walked past reception, does that mean if a receptionist goes sick, I am best placed to take over the front desk too?

Attending my first project meeting does not make me feel any better. The project plan is a list of randomly assigned tasks with no coherent timeline. I go back to Big Bad Boss and express my concerns, but he waves me away with one of his airy hand gestures. Don’t trouble me with mere details, he seems to say. Huff.

Project plan?

I soon find out why there is no proper project plan. There isn’t even a project manager. My colleague in compensation was filling that role. The poor man was expected to act as project manager as well as subject matter expert, not to mention super user and communications expert. No wonder he got sick. The very thought is enough to send me off on stress myself.

To make matters worse the head of IT, Nasty Nancy, joins my first project call demanding where I am on the 20 actions which have been assigned to me. Someone has gone through crossing out my colleague’s name and adding mine. Great. The first thing I do is push back on the technical tasks. What possible help can I be on those? Shouldn’t they be assigned to IT people. Nasty Nancy jumps in to tell me I am responsible for the whole project, so it is up to me to make sure these items get done. I pipe up to ask a question about one of them – I don’t even know what regression testing involves – but Nasty Nancy leaps in to ask if that means I am saying I will not complete the action. I don’t see how I can complete it if I don’t know what it is. Nancy positively froths at the mouth.

Big Bad Boss is not interested to hear how it is going but he does point out the the CEO is keen to see the platform go live in the next month. Great. No pressure then. Already I am getting 50 additional emails a day asking questions about the system, things I cannot possibly know, and there does not seem to be anyone to ask. I am beginning to wish I had taken more interest in the old platform, but the fact is I have never been sufficiently moved to recognise a colleague and apparently that feeling was mutual as I have never had an award myself. Apart from listing a recognition as a feature on our candidate page, I have had nothing to do with the old platform, let alone the new one. This is just awful.

Testing the platform

There are a whole bunch of decisions still to be made on the configuration which seems odd when it is due to go live quite soon. It seems Jerry has not been on form for a while. I work long hours to get things decided and signed off. User testing is another miasma. There are no testers allocated, nor any test scripts defined, so basically, I must make it all up to make it happen. Where are all the IT people when you need them, I wonder. I have done plenty of testing of new platforms, but usually there is a project manager or even a dedicated testing manager guiding the process. Poor Jerry had been expected to do the lot, and now it is all down to me. Sigh.

Luckily, most functionality seem to work, and there is relatively little to be sorted before we can sign off the testing. The next phase is moving our data to the new platform and that action sits firmly with the IT guys. It does, but there are a bunch of records that do not match. Instead of sorting them out, they have just left them out. I ask them to identify the missing records as terminations or some other excluded group so we can be sure.


There is a team working on the launch communications. But, when I finally see their plan, I notice we need to add FAQs to cover key differences to the old platform. Honestly, I feel like I have to do everyone’s job for them on this project. You can tell I am getting cross. Finally, we have a meeting to decide we are ready to go live. IT are congratulating each other on the success, and I hear that the internal comms team has gone for a nice lunch to celebrate. No one says anything to me.

Back to my day job, I get an email from the new system asking me to check my new award. I know there are five levels going up to a thousand pounds for a significant contribution. I also now know there are hundreds of products to choose from on the new system, including high street shop vouchers. How exciting, I could buy some new shoes. When I click on the link, I learn that Big Bad Boss has sent me a thank you e-card for all my hard work. A card. Whoop.

Next time…Candid works on a benefits summary