Confessions of a benefits manager: Candid meets the Highest Being

Everyone is twitchy because the Highest Being in the organisation, yes Lord King Superboss himself, is coming to visit European HQ again.

The effect that this news has had on us all is momentous. Reception has been redecorated. Facilities have cleared away all the piles of junk hiding in corners, and suddenly provided the new storage furniture we’ve been requesting for years. They have even bought a fancy new capsule coffee machine for the top floor, although, sadly, not for the rest of us.

Confessions of a benefits manager

They have also been busy sending out emails to remind us about tidying. Some years ago, they introduced a clean-desk policy, which means that if we leave our desk for a second, there must be no paper left on it.

Clean-desk policy

Most of us in HR are pretty tidy anyway, given that we are working with lists of pay and benefits data, but I still do leave certain non-confidential things out on my desk. Now the policy is being enforced rather vigorously. I came back from the loo to find a warning taped to my desk after I left a phone list unattended for about five minutes. Tsk tsk.

I hope this is a lesson to Lazy Susan, and that she will clear away the piles of magazines, tissues, food and hand creams she keeps as a physical barrier to prevent any actual work reaching her desktop. Big Bad Boss is equally delinquent, with teetering piles of paper on his desk, but the desk police seem only to be targeting the open-plan areas.

Presentation on European reward

To add to the excitement and general terror in the office, Big Bad Boss has been asked to make a special presentation to Lord King Superboss on European reward. He has me slaving away creating graphs and tables for his slides, so that my keyboard is positively smoking. At the end of it, I have crafted a deck of 50 slides.

I can’t believe Superboss is going to want to hear all that. Does he really care about our reward strategy? Is he going to give a toss if we have introduced a new pension scheme in Belgium? Surely not.

If I know any of our senior management team, they are really only interested in their own package. They express interest in others only to make sure no one underneath is paid any more than they should be and, in particular, that no one else is paid more than they are.

Otherwise, our leaders just want to get on with pontificating about the especially tough quarter and how we must all pull together to meet our plan. I have noticed that all quarters are tough around here, and we are in a constant state of austerity, even while reporting record profits externally.

Of course, as founder and major shareholder, everyone else is paid significantly less than Lord King Superboss, so my guess is his main interest will be the current tough quarter and how we can continue to do more with less.

Focus on cost savings made

I suggest to Big Bad Boss that we do a few slides on some of the cost savings we have made, and put some of the ones that refer to spending into the appendix. That way, we can sound like we are doing our bit towards quarter end results. 

Finally, the day arrives when the big man is here. I happen to be in the lobby to see him delivered from a black limo worthy of royalty. And royally is exactly how he is treated. Our local Highest Being is there to greet him and whisk him upstairs for a nice cup of fancy coffee. I am surprised how small and young the Superboss is. The great man founded this company in the 1980s and yet, passing him in the corridor, you could mistake him for the spotty guy coming to fix your computer. That said, there is a palpable aura of power and influence around him.

Big Bad Boss is positively sweating at the thought of his presentation, which is scheduled for 11am. Bizarrely, Big Bad Boss is left sitting alone in a conference room waiting for it to start. On phoning the assistant on the top floor, it seems the Superboss is running late.

Where is Big Bad Boss?

Finally, at 1.30pm, I pick up a call on Big Bad Boss’s phone, but he is nowhere to be seen. I run round the whole floor, but he is lost. I nip upstairs, but he isn’t there either. Surely he wouldn’t have gone out for lunch with such an important appointment pending? We are all standing by our desks like army cadets waiting for inspection. The assistant buzzes again. Can we send someone up immediately? Erm, who? There is only Big Bad Boss, Lazy Susan and myself. Sending Lazy Susan is inconceivable. Gulp.

Briefly, I consider going up. I could do it; I know the data better than anyone. However, Big Bad Boss would probably never forgive me for stealing his moment of glory (even though I wrote most of it for him). I grab an IT guy and send him into the men’s loo. Sure enough, Big Bad Boss is holed up in a cubicle. I guess his nerves are getting to him.

Big Bad Boss charges up to the top floor again. Later he tells me he was chastised for taking so long. It seems that if you are Lord King Superboss, you can be two and a half hours late, but if you are anyone else, you had better be on time.

Big Bad Boss was offered some of that nice coffee, though. And, luckily, the cost savings went down well, so we are all in the good books. I wonder if we can have a fancy coffee machine down here to celebrate?

Next time…Candid looks at next of kin.