Confessions of a benefits manager: Rebranding benefits

As part of a rebranding exercise, we are having a whole new company website. Whoop-de-doo. Given marketing does a rebranding every two years as a matter of job security, what has that got to do with us bunnies in HR?

Well, as part of the project, Big Bad Boss has been asked to look at the HR stuff on the ‘Wonders of Working Here’ page. Apparently we don’t sufficiently promote the benefits of selling your soul to a US company that expects you to forfeit in blood for a measly median salary.

I’ll admit I don’t particularly buy into the brief. I mean, whoever took a job on the basis that the organisation had a great careers page on its website? I don’t know anyone that stupid. Not even Lazy Susan. Still, it is great to be asked to do something that will actually look good on my CV for a change. Digital marketing. Social media. Yay.

I stroll along to the project-planning meeting with several of my HR colleagues. Leading the meeting is a consultant from a smart marketing agency. Bruce is rather spruce, in a Paul Smith suit and quietly expensive shirt. He smells clean, which is strangely noticeable after my earlier meeting with a few guys from IT.

Bruce wants us all to write what we think about the new website on a whiteboard. He hands out markers. OMG. Active meeting participation. My favourite.

Website design

I write ‘keep it simple’ in neat letters. Creepy Caroline scrawls ‘more words to optimise SEO’ in giant capitals. Well, she would, wouldn’t she? Bruce asks her to elaborate what she’d like to see from the website. She gives him 10 minutes on how the design should be search engine friendly. I wince. This guy is a website consultant; he just doesn’t need to be told that. He looks at me and I smile. He is rather lovely.

I tell him I think we just need to stick to the bare minimum; keep to the facts. Bruce is about to say something when Caroline jumps in to bang on about on-page optimisation again. She is right, of course, which makes it worse. Bruce agrees and takes a photograph of the screen to record our suggestions. Now we have to shout out what sections should be under the ‘Wonders of Working Here’ tab. This time I am keeping quiet. Let Caroline do the talking. He’ll soon get sick of it.

Sure enough, Caroline pitches in with a long monologue about the importance of keyword research, which has got little to do with the actual question. However, Bruce appears to be taken in by her. I wonder why he isn’t offended, seeing as she appears to be trying to outdo him. Bruce is busy writing down her suggestions and giving her that cute smile of his. Please say I won’t have to suffer this for the whole project.

Caroline then launches into BCTAs, otherwise known as bold calls to action. Apparently, every website should have them. Calls to action are a great way of making it clear to visitors what they need to do. I can give her a bold call to action: shut up.

Where is she getting all this stuff from? I take a look at her laptop, which is open in front of her. What a sneak: she is reading off a sheet entitled ‘How to design a website’ from some techy site.

Peering overtly at her screen, I point out that she hasn’t mentioned using image tags, the next point called out by ‘techy pages’. I think the consultant should know that the source of all this supreme knowledge is not my esteemed colleague. And now he does. Ha. 

Few benefits on offer

At last I am allowed to go back to my desk to work on what we want to bring out under the ‘Wonders of Working Here’ page.  It is a bit of a struggle. If I am to be entirely honest, around here the job has to be its own reward, because there is little else on offer.

I might scare off potential candidates by saying that our idea of work-life balance is to give you a Blackberry so you can work and see your family at the same time. Similarly, many of our HR folk consider a laptop a benefit because it enables you to get on with your work at weekends when working five 10-hour days isn’t enough.

It would be fair to say we offer the bare minimum in benefits across the world, which in many countries means you get nothing at all. But no, I must put it that in many countries our benefit package is second to none when it comes to simplicity and ease of understanding.

I could worry people by saying that pay rises are far and few between, unless you are one of the Higher Beings, or, as in the case of the receptionist, sleeping with one of them. In general, if you look at total reward for anyone below manager level, we barely scrape into the lower quartile compared to the market.

In theory, the low levels of fixed pay and benefits are made up for by higher-than-average variable pay, but that doesn’t pan out across all grades. If you play golf with the chairman, you stand a chance of an above-average bonus, but otherwise it is based on a formula so complicated that no one can understand the basis and therefore can’t complain that it is rather low compared to our results.

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But of course, I can’t say anything like that. What I can say is that the sky is the limit; meet the demands of your role with determination and passion and you can enjoy phenomenal success and financial rewards. That much is quite true; look at the girl on the front desk.

Next time…Candid leads a focus group.