D&I in Rewards

Nowadays, HR world’s priorities are filled with Diversity and Inclusion initiatives and priorities.

I’m not surprised by this as we have seen how the world is shaken recently on this matter. My aim in this post is to share my thoughts about D&I initiative and how they can be linked to Rewards practices.

What’s D&I anyways?

Global Diversity Practice, a global consultancy firm specializing on such practices, defines it as follows:

Diversity is any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another. In a nutshell, it’s about empowering people by respecting and appreciating what makes them different, in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education, and national origin.

Inclusion is an organizational effort and practices in which different groups or individuals having different backgrounds are culturally and socially accepted and welcomed, and equally treated. These differences could be self-evident, such as national origin, age, race and ethnicity, religion/belief, gender, marital status and socioeconomic status or they could be more inherent, such as educational background, training, sector experience, organizational tenure, even personality, such as introverts and extroverts.

Simply put, it’s a dimension which can explain the differences of your workforce by several groupings and respecting those differences.

How does it relate to Rewards?

In the recent years, we started seeing an accelerated effort from a lot of states to point these and how they relate to the social welfare of their population. Obviously, it’s directly correlated to the workforce and the workforce’s living.

For any member of the society, who is also a part of an organization and earns a certain level of compensation and is entitled to some benefits, it automatically impacts their involvement in the broader society.

A perfect example for such exercise is gender pay gap.

A lot of countries are concentrating on passing legislation that checks the pay equity between gender, ethnic group or race. It’s generally a reflection of the social issues that the respective country faces and tries to either increase awareness or even penalize based on the results.

Past reflections

I wrote about different pay scales for different nationalities and how this practice was interestingly common in the Middle East long time ago.

I believe this is diminished significantly over the years but it was a great example how far we came along and how much further we need to go.

You can even see the French legislation and see that one of the major indications is about getting a salary increase after returning from maternity leave. This is deliberately added to the legislation as the pay discrimination against French working moms is systemically common and creates a pay gap that is becoming harder to close as year passes by.

What can we do?

These were few examples in our field that shows how pay equity is created, and unfortunately, pretty easily.

My quick step-by-step recommendation on effective pay equity and fairness work are as follows:

1. Conduct regular checks

Obviously, everything starts by analyzing and identifying the gaps. If you don’t ask question, you will never get an answer. Therefore, asking the right questions, looking at all the different data cuts is vital.

2. Find the root cause

Once you identified the gaps, dig deep and understand the root cause. Sometimes, it’s pretty easy to tell that a pay gap is because of a wrong offer that’s extended or it’s just an outlier. Bear in mind that a compensation "life cycle" is technically a timeline and the reason could lie at any point of that timeline. Reflecting back is pretty helpful in this case.

3. Train your workforce / Create awareness

Create awareness and educate your workforce on importance of pay parity and fairness. Start from the population that has a decision-making authority in Rewards processes, but scale it to the whole workforce. Cascading this responsibility with creating awareness will help you down the line.

4. Keep the consistency on practices

Be consistent. I think this is already a crucial aspect of being a Rewards person but exceptions create outliers; outliers create inequity.

Please let me know if you’d like to see more hands-on examples on how to look into these processes or if you are looking for more details on these aspects.

Recertified by WorldatWork!

It’s that time of the year when I had to submit all my activities in the Total Rewards field to get my recertification renewal from WorldatWork.

To be honest, I was a bit skeptical to get my recertification approved. Given the pandemic and how it impacted -especially- the social aspect of collaboration with other professionals in the field, I found it hard this time to submit enough credits. However, it didn’t turn out that bad!


Up and onwards! I will share more updates as I get ready for the next one!

Tips to ace WFH

As a strong believer of working from home (WFH) during my career, I observed few habits that would make your life easier during these days.

I hope these will be helpful for you. They are based on my experience and nothing is scientifically proven unless data/source provided.

Get used to calendar & tasks being your best friends

I benefit from a GTD (Getting Things Done) approach a lot.
Creating tasks and blocking respective times in your calendar is essential. This will force you to work as you see your work calendar is full with time blocks and with a deliverable linked to them.

I would also recommend that you definitely block time and try to prioritize if you think that task is not creating any pleasure for you – if you’re less motivated to do it. This will also avoid procrastination.

If you don’t get overwhelmed with a busy calendar, I also try to squeeze my meetings in certain time blocks to avoid that “free time syndrome” — staying home and having free times in between doesn’t distract me when I’m home.

Book your time for errands

Again, calendar will be your best friend. In addition to the first point, blocking your time for errands is also important.
In an office set-up, you’d already have resources/teams for cleaning, food etc. which you don’t need to worry about. That doesn’t work at home.

I do book my time if I need to exercise during morning, or need to cook for lunch and even need to feed my cat.
For effectiveness (and obviously for your health), having those covered is essential so they are in your work calendar when WFH.

Be transparent for potential interruptions in meetings

We can share at the start of a VC meeting if we’re waiting for a grocery delivery, plumber or that you need to feed your dog in 15 minutes etc.
As I said earlier, always try to book time for such tasks in advance. Somehow, if you cannot, working from home is a bit more complicated as your home and work life are becoming integrated. We should be flexible with the daily tasks and tell our stakeholders in advance for courtesy and also efficiency.

Create your own separate workplace if possible

This is important – Even if you’d like to work from your couch – try to separate that part of your apartment as workplace and try to avoid working from places where you spend your off-time at home.

Don’t feel obliged to stay online longer/in front of your screen if you’re done for the day

One advantage of WFH is the non-existent commuting time so use it but not always for work. If you’re done for the day and you don’t need anything else to do; give that time back to your personal life.
You can use that time for work but don’t feel obliged – especially, like I said, if you’re done for the day. You need to keep yourself motivated for WFH. Staying online will not help you for that; it can add more stress. and can become a very unsustainable habit of “being always online”.

Get your meals ready in advance (even if they’re sad)

If you have the chance to cook everything in advance, this will boost your efficiency.
Personally, I realized that if I don’t do that, I started skipping meals. This is not healthy so take good care of yourself.

Have fun, be creative

At the end, companies are looking for ways to keep their employees motivated in an office space. One of the major action is that they’re trying very hard to create a place where you can feel comfortable. And guess what? — The most comfortable place for a human-being is their home. 😉

That’s why, if you try to have fun while doing your best at work, why shouldn’t you avoid that at home? It’s important that you still do VCs with your colleagues, just chatting, virtual gatherings are very fun.

If you’re a multitasker, you can even talk to your parents/friends etc. while working on some easy tasks. For example, if you’re into cycling like me, it’s extremely fun to read your e-mails while spinning on an indoor trainer.

let’s start again.

i’m going to try again to revive this blog as i have received a lot of comments about why i don’t write anymore. there’s a good amount of information i shared previously about my area of expertise and i thought it might be a good timing with the pandemic and the weird times we live in.

i’m planning to come up with some quick posts about triathlon, my passion beside my daily work and try to kick this habit of posting at least one post per week.

hope this is going to go well. let’s start again, folks.

Most powerful yet unsung Excel functions for Compensation professionals

I thought about writing a more technical post but didn’t know where to start from.
It could be a nice series of post starting from scratch, however after some googling, I thought it might be more beneficial to write about the unknown and/or unrecognized magic words that saves your time in front of the screen covered with cells.

As I advance in my career in Rewards area, I started to use macros more and more. This could be a good subject for another post but there are some formulas or that saved my life.

I will list some of these Excel functions and give you examples how and when to use it. You will not find the generic VLOOKUP() and similar essential formulas in the following list. Here we go:

INDEX() and MATCH() combination

Slowly leave your VLOOKUP() down and kick it to me. Nobody needs to get hurt!

Yes, this is it. The combination of INDEX and MATCH is one of the most powerful formula combination to save your life while trying to extract data from a data table with multiple input variables.

Let’s say we have a table like the one below and we would like to get the “Benefit” amount of the employee with the ID of “EMP3”:

MS Excel INDEX/MATCH combination

The formula would look like this:


As you can see, the index formula is the main formula where you need to identify as a first variable the area where the values are stored. You should not choose the left and top column in this area hence they are identifier row and column which will help us in the second and third variable.

INDEX() function works this way: I will give you the row number and column number and the cell at the intersection of those is the value I want.

MATCH() function a little bit different: Give me the exact place of this value in a range/series.

So with the MATCH() functions we identify the row and column numbers that INDEX() want. We want the row number of EMP3 in unique ID’s and the type of the pay “Benefit”.


Life cannot be without errors. More important thing is how you handle the errors. This formula can give you a better control in your data management if used properly.

Let’s say, you want to pay 5,000 USD even there’s an error in the calculation (in this example addition of three cells) of a cell.  Normally, the formula would look like this:


What if K7’s value is not a number? The Excel would give you an error for sure. To avoid seeing “#….!”, you can use IFERROR() and tell that even if there’s an error my sum would be 5,000:


Pretty simple, huh?

AND() and OR()

The basic logical operators are here. If you want to check two conditions that they are TRUE at the same time (AND) or at least one of them (OR) you can use these:

=AND(“Arif” = “Arif”, “Excel” = “Excel”)

will always give you a boolean result of TRUE like

=OR(“Cat” = “Dog”, (3-2) = 1)


Now, before going forward I would like to warn you about the following two functions. Although they are saving lives in some instances, they are called as “volatile functions”.
A Volatile Function is one that causes recalculation of the formula in the cell where it resides every time Excel recalculates. This occurs regardless of whether the precedent data and formulas on which the formula depends have changed, or whether the formula also contains non-volatile functions. That’s why you have to be really careful and mostly avoid using this.


We will use the same table above. As per that data table, we will analyze the below formula and see how OFFSET() function works:


Translation is: We will start from C4, go 4 cells down, then 1 cell right and starting from that cell we take all 6 values in a 3×2 table and add them all… Makes sense, right?

The table is this part:


So, the result would be in this case 37,594 in case you want to try.


I use this mostly in consolidation of various files with pre-set names that can be linked to an identified variable.
For example, you have one template for each country in your region and you want to get a value from its first sheet, cell A1:


It might be confusing, but the above figure is pretty self-explanatory. Please note that, you will see a #REF! error, if the target Excel file is not open.

I will continue to explain other functions in the Part II of this post and hope that this will help you come up with a better Compensation analyses!