Should the C&B professionals be certified?

Should the C&B professionals be certified?


I’m really delighted to see my score on my last required exam to be certified as CCP (Certified Compensation Professional) by the renowned and reputable organization WorldatWork.  This is my second certification – the previous one was GRP (Global Remuneration Professional) – and I admit that it really took a lot of time and hard work to get them.

When I was talking with my colleagues and friends about my study the whole year, I’ve been asked many times if it’s worth it or if I really require them.

First of all, I just want to highlight the famous quote of Allan Bloom:

 Education is the movement from darkness to light.

That is I really care about and believe in. What I see in today’s world that it’s not the financial system nor the army or technological advancements, but the education system. If you really want a population regardless the scale, be it a nation, a group or just a team, develop and transform itself to adapt rapid changes of mankind, you need to have a robust education system. Afterwards, it has to be enhanced with the mindset of the people: Continuous, lifetime learning.

Back to the question of the requirement, I’ll be very political…
I do not have a clear answer, so: Yes and No.

Yes, because:

  • I’m 100% sure that you’ll have a basic foundation about the methodology and generally accepted updated practices.
  • They give you a good point of view for the new era of HR: Being strategic business partner specialized in Total Rewards.
  • It’s an accepted and respected certification, which will shine in your CV.

And No, because:

  • Like all other certifications, nobody forces you to get one for a job. Many experts, gurus, VPs etc. don’t have such certifications. It won’t hurt your career advancement if you don’t get it.
  • There’s a cost, eventually. That might be a burden for many people.
  • It takes a lot of time and work (even if you’re a seasoned expert in Rewards area). I’m one of the fastest certified people especially in Middle East while working and it took almost one year for me to get both certifications.

So, I’m not going to do any advertisement for the certifications, especially after I also started having a volunteer participation in WorldatWork, but when I look at each of those 3 top reasons for both answers; I would choose the part “yes” and go for them.

I did and I’m going to do so… “because education matters.”


The main bridge between HR and Finance is C&B

The main bridge between HR and Finance is C&B

All organizations in modern business world are trying to bring Human Resources and Finance closer as a main result of cost efficiency or profit maximization. As HR costs rise day by day and the war for talent is pushing really hard on organizations to reduce such costs; both departments’ professional are forced to work together to control the costs.

Yes, we always mention the word costs because (unfortunately) HR is one of pillars in an organization that doesn’t create any revenue although carries an enormous capital. As a fiscal point of view, being a good HR professional requires with a competency of controlling costs.

Image courtesy of sheelamohan /
Image courtesy of sheelamohan /

Well, when we talk about money, especially within Human Resources area, all fingers point to one department of course: Compensation&Benefits.

As we always say; A good C&B practice is simple and cost-effective. Therefore a good C&B professional needs to have the competency I mentioned above. Combined with communication skills, C&B professionals should bridge Finance and HR departments and ensure that both talk the same language and align seamlessly.

Following tips might help you to be successful if you are experiencing hard time with this issue:

  • Go to Gemba

If you never heard this jargon, the  Japanese term “gemba” means “the real place” or “where the action happens or value created”. So, in production areas if you have an issue in your production line according to Kaizen or Continuous Improvement methodologies you should go to “gemba”. You should go to the place where the problem rose and check what happens. In our case, basically you should directly go to Finance department and talk to respective stakeholders to align with them. Don’t forget; communication matters!

  • Streamline processes

From my previous experiences, it’s always good to brainstorm/sit down couple of days and sort all processes between two departments and create process maps. Document it, train it and always check it. You’ll see that if two people start talking the same language actually they don’t stop!

  • Standardize tools

This comes along with the former point. By streamlining processes you should really start creating robust, standardized reports that have to be useful and meaningful for both parties. According to Aristotle, there are three modes of persuasion: ethos, pathos, logos whereas logos meaning logical appeal (by facts, figures) is the most persuasive out of this three.
Long story short; standardized tools and reports persuade better.

  • Be able to look from multiple points of view and listen

I think this is the hardest but most important factor. Usually, both sides have a very different angles to look into the issues. That’s why you always have to look at both sides listen to rationales of both and try to solve all issues closest to the optimum “win-win” situation.

I assume that if you can make all above worked out, your organization (and eventually yourself) will benefit from it.

Split Pay Dilemma

Split Pay Dilemma

First I have a question:

What comes first? Business, right?

…and I answer: Yes, 99% it is.

Split pay is a method a business may use to pay its employees who are on international assignments.

Split pay is generally used in Global Mobility, where you can protect the employee from the effects of “being mobile” especially between geographical areaes where the income, cost of living and even quality of living difference is substantial. It also transfers exchange-rate risk from the employee to his company and makes it easier for companies and their employees to comply with the host country’s regulations for work and for transferring money out of the country.

If you consider split pay in any of the markets under your responsibility; most probably that country is in a trouble; either financially or legislative.

So, it sounds like a great support to the business, to the employee, but… Yes, there’s a but

The administrative burden of split pay is complicated and huge yet it does not solve all your problems. Then the only question comes to mind is: Is it really worth to keep doing this?

I’ve answered this question many times back in the early days with a “No!”.

Was that the correct answer?

You have to understand the business context and its linkage with the very basic need to talent.

Usually, such countries have an additional problem beside socio-economic problems, which is TALENT. When I talk about talent, she’s not the star of the company or the 14-years old singer on TV. When we, HR professionals, talk about talent we mean professionals who are able to manage/support/develop business in the circumstances their capabilities and skills are required.

Hence you’re developing a business or even trying to stabilize your market coverage, you need those talents.

So, it has a double effect. Additionally, these countries lack talent.

So, that’s why you are mostly forced to mobilize your talents from other parts of the world and consequently you will need to process a split pay, ALTHOUGH it will create you so much trouble in the administration.

If you can look from business perspective, there is no need to be stuck with a dilemma because the formula is so simple as I told you in the beginning:

Business comes first. 99%.

P.S.: I’ll try to write about the common issues you can have when processing a split pay in another post. Oh, by the way, I’m still not a fan of split pay.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Expectations vs. Reality: Rewards and Recognition

Expectations vs. Reality: Rewards and Recognition

Being a Total Rewards Specialist is not easy. I’m going to admit that. The day I became a Compensation & Benefits professional, my manager tried to manage my expectations from the role I took with one sentence:

“From this day on, you’re going to be the second most hated guy in this company; guess what? The first one is me.”

Well, somehow it was exciting… Like I express it every time; “I was on the dark side!”… But it’s not easy…

I might hear you ask the question: Why?

The reason that I tell all these are being aside of both employer and employee at the same time is such an exhausting and stressful job. Imagine yourself fighting in a war but in two opposite fronts (excuse my example).

The main reason of existence as a “Total Rewards” professional is directly linked to the main definition of it: Attract, retain and motivate talents with adequate tools and resources. So, to stay objective at all times is in its nature.

The latest study of Towers Watson showed us how much the hardship can extend: Almost 3 to 4 the top 7 drivers in attracting and retaining talents are different from employers’ and employees’ point of view. Some examples which differ are: Job Security, Trust/Confidence in Senior Leadership, and Length of commute…

Now; let’s think about it. As an employer you think that you need to do as high priority seven things to attract and retain the top talents who you think that is going to add value to your business objectives and carry your organization to higher levels, targets etc. On the contrary, the employee thinks that half of them are worthless and they just would like to be exposed to way other drivers. IT’S CRUCIAL.

It’s been long time that Compensation & Benefits, Rewards, Remuneration etc. was just seen as administering payroll and paying some cash allowances, but as the world changes and the globalization gets more important, the drivers for intrinsic and extrinsic motivation change at the same time. This crucial problem shows us that we have to change how we handle rewarding our employees. We need to be up-to-date in employee communication, effective in conducting it and use the “big umbrella” of Total Rewards to reach them.

The one and only reality is (although everybody thinks that it’s the most important driver for everything) that deep down there it’s not about only money…


Original post was published on Linkedin on August 28th, 2014.

Why are Salary Structures in Middle East Differentiated by the Nationality?

Why are Salary Structures in Middle East Differentiated by the Nationality?

The first thing I heard when I came to Dubai was that some organizations have multiple salary structures. I was amazed by this!

I thought that “Whoa, they are really advanced in segregating job groups or different business lines for the respective market!”

That was not the case. The segregation was according to your origin, i.e. Locals, Western Expatriates and Eastern Expatriates…

My initial thought was that it was pure discrimination and I wanted to dig deep to come up with a meaningful rationale why man should create such an aggressive differentiation. After spending some hours, I listed (almost) every major possible reasons:

  • Most of the countries in this region (especially UAE, Qatar and KSA) lack local talent.
  • They need not only skilled labor but also unskilled ones to handle productive and administrative work and the local population is unable to cover such enormous workforce requirement even if all would have worked.
  • The global mobility theories work. Hence they do not have a robust know-how, they require importing the experts from more developed markets.
  • Cost management is another reason. If you need one million of blue collar workforce and your only chance is to have foreigners work, you would go to the destinations where you can attract most people with least cost.

When you look at the reasons above, it seems fair enough to differentiate your employee groups in such a way that it might be considered in other parts of the world as “discrimination and inequality in the employment”.

Most of the multinational companies do not choose to have this practice because they are subject to audits in U.S. or Europe because of their presence in those areas and they are of course accountable for their overseas operations covering this region.

Now, clarifying the situation a little bit more the question stays the same: Is this practice fair or not?

If we would live and work in U.S.A or Europe., most probably it’s a clear violation of FLSA, EPA 75/117/EEC. With ongoing enhancements in laws and regulations in Middle East, our question would be still legally debatable and the reasons listed above will be brought up in every discussion on this topic to defend the practice.

Personally, I wouldn’t choose to have such a practice but after considering the valid reasons specific to this region I do not criticize who does.

P.S.: I’d like to have comments on this issue from people who have been involved in such a practice and discuss further.

Original post was published on Linkedin on August 12th, 2014.

5 Tips for C&B Professionals to be successful in Middle East

5 Tips for C&B Professionals to be successful in Middle East

First of all, it’s a great pleasure to start sharing my thoughts with this great community of LinkedIn. This will be my first post after all so I count on you to bear with me.

As a C&B Specialist in Middle East and after working almost two years in this region, I wanted to summarize five bullet points to be successful here.

Communication matters. As always. The key to success in Middle East is having really strong communication skills. I’m not talking about speaking Arabic or any other language fluent; you really need to explain employees everything from scratch. In this region, employees rely on verbal communication and they believe in you if you contact them face-to-face.

Don’t count on data quality
I know that this issue depends on the organization setup, IT infrastructure, colleagues etc. but this region have issues with data integrity and quality in general. I always expect to face such a challenge but every C&B professional, who are usually into deep statistical analysis, should think twice and look more than twice which data they are playing with.

Be a tech savvy
This is a true advantage here. What I’ve seen in this region is that most of HR professionals, even in C&B, do not have advanced skills in statistical software, macros in MS Excel etc. If you are a bit tech geek and open to new technologies and tools, you may shine.

Be creative
This region is a true playground. When I talk to consultants, they love to work here because there’s a lot to do. The amazing thing is; the diversity, increasing volume of the business and lack of solid HR practices in the past allows you to be as creative as you can. Come up with “crazy” ideas, I bet somebody can listen to it!

Anticipate unexpected occasions
Anything can happen in one night. You can wake up tomorrow to a situation where your office in one country is bombed, a hyperinflation hits another country’s currency etc… So, expect surprises and be always ready to react quickly. It is stressful but will develop you a lot. Look at the bright side!

If you’re new to this region or consider working here as a C&B professional, I hope these five quick tips help you to imagine what’s expected from you.

Original post was published on Linkedin on August 6th, 2014.

Hello World!

Hello World!

You must have heard the very famous “Hello World!” echo, if you have a little “geek” part inside you. It’s the first code you write which ever language you use for programming.

So; this is the beginning. I’m going to write about HR concentrationg on Rewards. Plus, some stuff that I like to read, do, hmm… maybe cook?!

I believe that a blog reflect its owner, so I want it to be very genuine but also somehow professional.

I hope you’ll like it.