Working in compensation and benefits is an honorable career, but it’s not something most people think of as fun. Even if nothing gets you more excited than numbers and compensation frameworks, every job has its boring, routine sides and days. It’s unavoidable when you do something day in and day out for decades. But there’s no reason being a reward professional has to be dull. Here are four things reward professionals can pursue that may add some zest to the job this year.
1. Embrace the performance management revolution
Reward professionals are often nervous about the changing world of performance management because almost all of the discussion is about performance conversations and little of it is about how reward decisions will be made. It’s normal to have concerns, but it’s no fun to be seen as the naysayer. Think through the options (there are only a few) and show leadership how you can make sure the new performance management system still gets comp decisions right.
2. Study executive compensation
Executive compensation is its own world. If you’ve spent your career in traditional salaried or hourly pay then you’ll find lots of new and interesting things in exec comp. For example, a big part of executive pay is bonuses based on the performance of the company. But how do you judge performance? What if the company does poorly, but is still better than the industry? What if profits are up, but the stock price is down? You have to be as much an economist as a reward professional to flesh that out.
Be warned that you will have to build a working relationship with your company’s executive compensation consultant — who should be reporting directly to the board. They may not be that friendly towards HR. That task in itself is a tasty challenge and a chance to test your political savvy.
So dive in and learn all you can; it is certain to be interesting and could open new doors for your career progression.
3. Play with analytics
Compensation is the most numeric field within HR, yet we don't hear many stories about using analytics in the reward function. If you like numbers, and surely you must if you’re in reward, then doing some advanced analytics can be fun while creating value for the company.
A fairly straightforward use of advanced analytics in reward is conjoint analysis of benefits. It’s usually seen as a marketing tool for selecting product features, but conjoint analysis can equally well be used to pick the optimal mix of benefits. You don’t need to master the technique personally, just hire someone via a talent platform like Upwork who can do that kind of math; they will probably charge less than $50/hour, so it’s affordable.
If benefits aren’t of interest to you, here are some other important questions that analytics can help answer:
- "Would adding staff so that we used less overtime reduce errors?"
- “Would paying a higher hourly rate for front line workers save us money?”
- “Does the range of pay for a job reflect the variability of performance in that job?”
There is no end to important business questions that involve compensation and require someone with analytical skill; you just need to free yourself from some of the ongoing transactional work so that you can focus on analytics.
4. Get involved in running wellness initiatives
As a compensation professional you are used to employees complaining constantly, so you’ll be shocked to find that when it comes to wellness initiatives employees are often enthused and grateful. If you can find a way to get assigned to some wellness work it will be a refreshing change from the daily grind of compensation.
Wellness is also a realm that benefits mightily from analytics. Companies need to know if a wellness program simply sounds nice or is actually delivering value—you have the skills to help with that.
Stretch your skill set and grow your experience
Even if you are happy in your normal work as a reward professional, it’s a wise move to find ways to stretch your skill set. These four examples reveal my own areas of interest; you may have different ones — the point is that there are many paths that can take you beyond your existing duties.
You should also know that research shows there is a lot to be said for following whatever it is that interests you. So make the push to add what interests you to your work…don’t wait for someone to hand you something interesting to work on.