HR specialisms: compensation & benefits

first_imgHR specialisms: compensation & benefitsOn 26 Jun 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Compensation and benefits (C&B) used to be considered an HR backwater.To the outsider, at least, it was hardly the most enticing of disciplines. “When I was an HR generalist I used to perceive C&B as some strangeolder guy sitting in the corner,” says Glaxo SmithKline’s director ofInternational Benefits Richard Higginson. But then he “fell into it byaccident” and found he loved it. “Everything we think is important topeople pales into insignificance when it comes to salary issues.” There is no doubt that the profile of C&B specialists is rising and theyare certainly more in demand. Research conducted last year by Salary SurveyPublications showed that the number of experts in its sample rose from 167 inthe year to March 2000, to 259 to March this year – a 55 per cent increase.Employers, it would seem, are finally beginning to put flesh on the theory thatpay and reward – as the best means of attracting, managing and retaining talent– is a very useful strategic tool. And many are putting pressure on theirC&B teams to demonstrate a much clearer connection to operating performanceand shareholder value. Share options are a good example of how a wily C&B strategy can make areal impact on the bottom line. Because companies do not have to deduct thecost of options from their income (as they must with salaries), they have oftenproved a useful tool to pump up profits in the short term. But even leavingthese semi-shady considerations to one side, it is clear that the discipline isin line to become the main bridge between the “softer” side of HR andthe “harder” financial side of business. As such it could be thespecialism to go for if you want to get on the fast-track. “A good C&Bspecialist could well be a front-runner to take on an HR directorship,”says William M Mercer senior consultant David Wreford. Even better, the pay is good: up to 12 per cent higher than equivalent HRdisciplines, according to CIPD reward adviser Nick Page. He puts the averageannual salary at £37k (according to Salary Survey Publications, the figure ismore like £47k). This disparity is partly down to straightforward supply anddemand – these people are still thin on the ground. But it also reflects thepeculiarly difficult nature of the job. As Page points out, “It’s a broadremit”, that can encompass quasi-industrial relations as well aspolicy-making and tailoring incentives to business strategy. At present the discipline continues to attract many more men than women. Insome organisations it remains so unpopular that individuals are often”volunteered” into the role, says Page. “Companies often rotateit in training schemes to try and get people interested”. The problem, hebelieves, is “that it’s still seen, wrongly, as a number-crunchingjob” – a perception heightened by the preponderance of high-level C&Bspecialists with financial backgrounds. “But now we’re seeing more HRgeneralists moving into positions” – a trend the CIPD is encouraging bymaking comp & bens a compulsory part of its main HR qualification. So on the whole, promotion prospects look sound – although the best peoplemay find themselves at loggerheads with employers who want to keep them wherethey are (that supply and demand problem again). Many C&B experts findtheir way into general management and a high percentage find a niche inconsulting. With a growing number of organisations now signing up to the buzzphrase ofthe moment – “total rewards” – there is no doubt that C&B is abroadening role at the heart of the new corporate agenda. By Jane Lewis Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img

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