Compensation and benefits managers (a.k.a. payroll managers or rewards managers) are the human resource specialists that hold the purse strings. Essentially, these guys are in charge of designing, developing, implementing and managing salary, bonus and benefits packages for the employees of an organisation.
As well as administering the actual wages that people receive, these dynamic HR professionals manage the endowment of pensions, health insurance, annual bonuses, commission payments, company cars, cycle-to-work schemes and other lifestyle benefits.
If you enter this profession, you’ll be responsible for collecting market data on the gross and net remuneration packages which are offered for employees across the industry in which your organisation operates.
Salary and benefits packages are vital for enticing new talent and keeping hold of your current staff. Consequently, you’ll be conducting research to find out what your company’s direct competitors are offering their employees.
Based on your analysis of this data, you’ll be making recommendations to senior management about tweaking your organisation’s compensation and benefits packages. Once these suggestions have gained approval, you’ll be in charge of implementing the necessary changes.
Furthermore, you’ll be responsible for making sure that the compensation packages for employees with the same level of experience and responsibilities are on a par, particularly in instances where no quantitative performance criteria have been set.
It’ll also be your responsibility to make sure that your organisation’s compensation and benefits packages comply with statutory and regulatory requirements, such as minimum salaries and tax liabilities. Finally, you’ll also be responsible for actually managing your company’s payroll.
Many companies, particularly large or multinational corporations, outsource their entire payroll operations. In such cases, your job as a compensation and benefits manager is more likely to focus on policy development, strategic management and coordinating the outsourced payroll activities from a distance.
Some compensation and benefits managers are employed by outsourced service providers, and handle the compensation and benefits process for a handful of client companies.
Salary & benefits
Annual salaries for compensation and benefits managers may vary from salaries received by HR generalists.
However, it’s likely that compensation and benefits managers will start their careers as generalist human resources officers before specialising. At this level, you’re likely to earn between £20,000 and £30,000 per annum.
Once you’ve become a fully-fledged compensation and benefits manager, your salary is likely to increase to between £30,000 and £100,000 a year.
Candidates with relevant professional qualifications may earn higher salaries. For example, a payroll manager with a chartered accountancy qualification, or a benefits manager with a law degree and specialisation in employment law, may stand to earn more than someone with a regular undergraduate degree in an unrelated discipline.
The working hours for compensation and benefits managers are generally quite regular. These guys normally work five days a week on a nine-to-five basis. Extra evening and weekend work is usually uncommon.
HR professionals with responsibility for more than one office location may be required to travel around from time to time.
An undergraduate degree (2:1 minimum) in any discipline is acceptable for entry into most organisations. However, an academic qualification in a relevant subject, such as human resources management, business studies, management studies or psychology, may be preferable.
Since HR is a popular profession and the competition is fierce, gaining prior work experience will certainly be advantageous.
Training & progression
Many organisations offer structured graduate development schemes, which involve formal training sessions and rotations across various areas of the HR department.
The majority of organisations will also provide financial support for employees looking to obtain relevant professional credentials from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
As you progress in your career, you’ll gain more strategic and managerial responsibilities and will take a step back from hands-on payroll administration tasks.
Another alternative career path is to become self-employed and work as a freelance compensation and benefits consultant.