Confessions of Benefits Manager: Cracking the codes

An instruction to take on responsibility for inputting job codes seems far too menial a task for the likes of Candid, but a foray into the company IT system throws up some interesting possibilities

Looking back, there was a time when I considered working in IT. Now it seems unthinkable, especially when I look around our IT department, noticing how everyone appears to be some throwback to Neanderthal times. To succeed in the corporate world is to blend in, so I can’t imagine that someone who washes daily would get very far in that department, it would stand out too much. However, call me geeky if you like, but I do like systems. I like setting up reports and databases, and all that stuff. Most of the time.

But I have one systems issue, which is so trivial that I am embarrassed to bring it up, but the thing is, I need to get it off my chest. They say the first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging it. Well, my problem is, er, job codes. There it is, out in the open.

What normally happens is this. Any time anyone wants to promote someone or to hire someone senior, they come to me. I do some market analysis (make something up) and create a form for approval.

Once the form is approved, I send it off to Dippy Doris, our HR system number-cruncher, to input into the system. You will notice that in all this, I have not had to get my hands dirty in the HR system itself. I only ever touch the output reports, never the data itself. There is no mention of a job code in this process, nor does it appear in my job description at any point.

But now, some bright spark in the US has decided that the job code should be owned by the compensation and benefits team, because it is linked to our pay ranges and benefit programmes. Fair enough. There are plenty of things I am happy to own: shoes, handbags, interesting notebooks, and if that list now needs to include job codes, so be it. Except for one thing: they want me to input it. Me? A special job code data input clerk? I don’t think so.

It makes no sense. I don’t input any other data. Normally I don’t even log on to the system, unless I need to look someone up. I logged on the other day to see if that new bloke in procurement is married (he is, sadly), but really, I rarely have such a need. I have trouble even remembering my password.

There are about 50 fields to be filled in for any new hire. Dippy Doris will do 49 of them as usual, and I will have to do the other one. Come again? It seems a small thing, I know, but the reality is, to complete that one field, I will have to log on specially, which takes five minutes, spend a further 10 minutes trying to find the right record to amend, and spend another 10 minutes looking for my notes on how to add a job code, because this isn’t something I do every day.

All this nonsense, just to type in five characters that I don’t even use. It doesn’t need to be me. A monkey could do it. Dippy Doris can do it, so really that proves it.

Naturally, I rail against the proposal, but to no avail. My US colleague refuses to listen. That is her off my Christmas card list, for a start. I don’t know if you have ever tried to argue with an American who really believes they are doing the right thing, but it is fruitless. All you get is polite, righteous, intransigence. God is always on their side, whichever side that is.

Big Bad Boss refuses to come to my aid. The HR system department reports to him, along with compensation and benefits, so you would think he would use his influence to keep me happy. But job codes are just not interesting enough for him to care. His eyes glaze over when I talk to him about it. I know how he feels. I am not interested in them either. That is why I don’t want to have to input them.

I consider delegating the activity to my colleague Lazy Susan, but that would never do. A monkey might be able to do it, but not Snoozy Suzy. She is a bit dyslexic with numbers, letters, that sort of thing. We have to be really careful not to give her any actual work, because it creates such a mess. So here I am inputting job codes myself. Gah.

I notice that next to every job code there is another field called “comp code”. I don’t think this field is used. I check, and indeed, they are all blank. I decide that if I have to own the job code, I might as well own the comp code too. Perhaps I can use it to link to survey codes to help with market analysis. Then all this pain might actually be of some legitimate use.

Naturally, I need to check this possibility out by inputting some dummy data. I pull up the record of that bloke in procurement. I have three digits of comp code to play with. BOD, which stands for beautiful only don’t (go there), that will do for him. Then I select Lazy Susan’s record. I code her with DER, meaning dim, even risible. Big Bad Boss is naturally coded BBB.

To limit the pain, I am saving my job code input into batches. They all get done on the last Friday of the month. Jobby Friday, I call it. My US friend doesn’t like the delay, but when she complains, I suggest that she could always get someone else to do it. Hah.

Next time…Big Bad Boss improves his communication.