My Million Dollar Compensation Package

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June 7, 2010

Occasionally I come across something that is written that just grabs my attention.  Last week I had one of those moments.  I was reading The HR Technologist blog and the author, Bryon Abramowitz, posted about having a million dollar compensation package.  Let me repeat that because it’s 100% true….he has a MILLION dollar compensation package.

Since what he said seemed so important to me, I asked him if I could share some, or most, of the post here on my site.  He approved, so here is my interpretation of his post:

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How are you selling the true value of the non-cash aspects of your compensation package to your workforce?  Are you showing numbers or are you using the numbers to help tell a story? Using myself as an example, if someone had told me that my compensation package was worth more than $1m in a single years time, I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t experienced what I did.  Having a story to use to highlight the point helps to provide context and drive home the true value of your offering. It humanizes the numbers.  So, what’s my story?

I’ve been blogging since October of 2009, so just a hair under 8 months.  In that time I’ve averaged about one post a week.  While not as frequent as some of my fellow HR bloggers, it is still a respectable pace, and one that isn’t always easy to maintain with a demanding client work schedule and family responsibilities.  Regardless, I strive to update the blog at least 4-5 times a month, and more if possible.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t always been easy and once again, life got in the way.  I’ve been maintaining a low profile as I recover from an abdominal surgical procedure which kept me off my feet for a week and slowly coming back up to speed the following week.  I’m now back, quickly approaching 100%, and looking to make up for lost time and missed blog posts.

While I’ve been fortunate to have extremely good health thus far, I am equally fortunate for the following things in my life:

  1. An amazing family who supports me, challenges me, and loves me more than I can ever imagine
  2. Wonderfully supportive colleagues and clients who have been understanding and flexible during the time that I was out and recovering
  3. Challenging work that provides me with flexibility to work outside of traditional business hours where appropriate
  4. Unbelievable health insurance which provides me with peace of mind even after racking up some pretty substantial medical bills over the last 7 months due to extended hospital stays by my two latest additions Allen and Collin

As a former HR practitioner I can’t help but think about my experiences over the past year and how much the HR practices of my employer impact my life far beyond the boundaries of the office.  I’ve been able to handle major life events such as the addition of two children,  19 weeks of hospital stays (including 17 weeks of Intensive Care), surgery, and personal medical leave all without missing a beat.

None of this would have been possible without some HR practices that many people take for granted such as:

  1. Solid health insurance coverage
  2. Generous paid time off programs
  3. Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
  4. Family & Medical Leave (FMLA)
  5. Flexible work arrangements

While many people compare jobs on the basis of the cash compensation, the value of the benefits listed above in my case have far exceeded any cash compensation I would ever earn.  Without exaggerating, the value of these benefits to me in the last 12 months exceed one million dollars. Had I compared the cash compensation of my job against other opportunities in the job market and made an employment decision based on the cash aspect of the package, I would have potentially lost tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The non-cash aspect of my overall compensation package has exceeded my cash compensation many times over.

Ten years ago I wouldn’t have ever been able to place a value on the benefits I enjoy today, just as many younger workers view aspects of their overall package as being less valuable than they actually are.  My former employers have attempted to highlight the “value” of their overall package in the form of the annual total rewards report that was mailed to my house every spring.  Unfortunately these reports were mostly numbers – and while that was somewhat helpful, the lack of a meaningful story to wrap around the numbers resulted in the message being lost.

I bet that if you look around, there are countless people with stories similar to mine who can help humanize the point and cut through the clutter, driving home the true value of what your organization has to offer. How many of your employees have similar stories of ways their benefits far outweighed their base compensation?  Have you personally experienced a medical crisis that led to using far more of the benefits than you thought possible?  Share it in the comments.

*Bryon D. Abramowitz, SPHR is a senior consultant & client executive with the HR Strategy Consultancy, Knowledge Infusion.  He is a lifetime resident of the Chicago area, a die-hard Chicago White-Sox Fan, and an avid golfer.  Bryon and his wife keep busy with three little boys under the age of five.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.

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