If you’re reading this, you’re probably a benefits geek.There’s nothing wrong with that. Embrace it. And you’ve been there.You’re at your significant other’s office cocktail party when someone asks what you do. I’ve never understood why, but this appears to be the “safe” question for introductions in these settings. I guess, “What’s your political affiliation?” or “So what do you think about Islam?”, while perhaps more interesting, are a little more risky.
If you’re like me, you say, “I’m a benefits consultant.”, and pray that there’s no follow up question. I often find that explaining what it is that we do to people outside this business results in blank stares and general disinterest before I ever get to “…to ensure that our benefits package isn’t only competitive, but is also aligned with our overall business strategy.”
I’m okay with this. After spending years in this business trying to explain to complete strangers in two minutes what I spend my days -- and sometimes nights -- doing, I’ve developed a sixty second shpeel that usually gets me off the hook. But what happens when the question comes from a senior manager within your organization?Or, worse yet, what if it’s the Bob’s from Office Space (AKA – Efficiency Consultants) asking you, “What…what would you say…you do here?” The correct response is not, “I have people skills!”
So what’s your value proposition? How aligned are you with your organization’s business strategy? I would argue that, if it isn’t already, this should be part of your canned response to folks within your organization who ask what it is that you work on. You know as well as I do that whatever you do in benefits -- whether you’re a health & protection or a retirement benefits geek -- is important not only to controlling your company’s bottom line, but is also key in your organization’s attraction & retention strategy.
If you haven’t thought yourself about your own value proposition to your organization, then how on earth do you think you’d explain to a senior manager why you shouldn’t be counted as overhead when it comes time to tighten belts within your organization? Worse yet, if you aren’t sure what value you add to your organization, it’s time to start thinking about it. You should give yourself some credit. No one will believe you if you don’t believe yourself.
Look -- I’m as guilty as you are. There’s an awful lot that we do to simply ensure that the “trains keep running on time.” But you don’t want to end up on one of Kris Dunn’s Worst Jobs in HR lists. If we’re going to convince those outside of our world that we’re as important to our organization as those out there selling, engineering, accounting, or doing whatever else they do, we’ve got to make our own case for it.