“Benefits” are not PRIVILEGES
One of the few things I have heard in People Management, by most, if not few HR Professionals is the confusion between BENEFITS and PRIVILEGES. A more recent poor understanding of these two concepts that I have heard from an HR Leader is when she said that non – revenue flights are benefits that applicants would want and figuratively die for. There may be some truth in it, on some level of truth, yes. But realistically speaking, it may not hold the same back in 50s or some years ago. You can only wonder why only few applicants in managerial posts pursuits their application, and while others actually decline job offers.
Let’s differentiate the two concepts from one another.
These are services given to associates/employees when they need it, and should be made readily available. After all, what kind of service will it be if one has to move mountains just to avail it? In that case, then it is not “benefits”. Benefits are services that are available whether you use them or not. A clear example is hospitalization benefit or HMO, no one in its right mind will shoot its own foot just to avail this benefit. I hope to cite the same assumption with ophthalmic spectacles. No one will intentionally poke its eyes just to get a branded eye glasses in an attempt to either avail of that benefit or just to look smarter. But when the need requires it, either of these services can be made easily available by an associate. Then that is when you can call that service, a BENEFIT. Maternity leaves, paternity leaves, Healthcare Benefits, Vacation leaves, sick leaves, and all other benefits that are provided to any associates should they need it.
Privileges on the other hand are different. In fact, this concept is absent in most companies. It is only on the perception of others that they see PRIVILEGES in services availed by associates. To be more clear, allow me to cite two examples. One Example, the most common, is company car. If the car that your company has provided you is for the sole purposes of performing your job, then it is a tool of the trade. If you have signed a waiver indicating that while the vehicle is under your care, you have to ensure its security, safety, and even its limited utilization or a policy that restrict you in the use of it, then this is not a benefit. Though it is true that you are benefiting from the use of the company car, still it is not a benefit. It will be a benefit if the company car was given to you without limitation on the use and utilization. Second Example is Free Flights but subject to bump offs. By all means of pun and intention, this is not a benefit and only the dumbest HR Leader will think that it is. It is dumb to even think that it is, how much more to claim that it is a benefit. Take out the “subject to bump offs” to make it a benefit to associates. And aside from that, the experience of travel will make your associates the best brand ambassadors of your airline company. Delays in itself is a bad experience by any traveler and worst of all, the experience of getting bumped off without compensation is the worst travel experience. The true nature of “privilege” is discriminating, are you saying that you are discriminative in the application of benefits to your associates? Privilege doesn’t actually exist in HR Services, remember that your associates are not club members. Hotel accommodation, Per diem, and even varying cellphone plans may differ based on Job Levels due to the fact of Job Equity that will attract external talents and to make career advancement equitable to all associates. How can you attract external talents if they don’t see job equity? How can associates aspire for promotion if they don’t see the equity of job levels? Tools of the trade, company discounts, hotel accommodation on official business trips, and other activities related to the conduct or nature of your work ARE NOT PRIVILEGES. They are JOB EQUITIES.
Often times, we failed see the difference of BENEFITS from PRIVELEGES. I remember years back, at the advent of cellular communication, even cellphones were offered in job offers as benefits. I remember laughing so hard in front of an HR Manager when she read to me my job offer. I expressed my disappointment and walked out from that employment opportunity. What was disappointing is when an HR Manager or HR Leader cannot distinguish the difference of such, then on what assurance will I be given a fair attention should I need one?
I pity those HR Leaders, or even companies, whose sight is as narrow as a drinking straw that even up to this day, they still offer Phones or Communication budgets as part of Job Offers. And I vehemently disagree that Millennials are attracted to smart phones. Yes, they may be attracted to it at some levels but it is not the phone itself but the lifestyle that is represented by this piece of equipment. Millennials are not oxymoron, they are smart and talented that only few leaders know about them.
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