Dan Couzens, EMEA rewards programme manager at Yahoo!, is rising to the various challenges of providing compensation and benefits to 1,500 employees across 12 countries
After a decade in recruitment, and four months into his first job in reward and benefits, Dan Couzens, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) rewards programme manager at Yahoo!, is juggling a range of projects and challenges. “Originally the job was described as heavy on the benefits side, but there are a lot of projects I am involved with,” he says.
These include annual salary reviews; selecting and managing brokers; liaising with providers for staff presentations; a flexible benefits scheme enrolment; internal moves and changes in compensation levels; and communicating benefits and fielding queries.
“I had been contemplating my HR experience and portfolio but had not really seen any obvious routes,” he says.
“The HR team within Yahoo! is quite lean, so opportunities do not come up that often. It was about good timing.”
Couzens joined Yahoo! in 2009 after working in recruitment for Siemens, Websense and Mintel. The role of EMEA reward programme manager became available at Christmas last year. “I thought it might be something I could do, as there was a lot of crossover from my talent acquisition role,” he says. “I found I knew more about compensation and benefits than I thought I did.”
Now, four months into the role, Couzens has built on his basic benefits and reward knowledge and found a lot of opportunities. “Going into reward, there are different avenues to take,” he says. “You can specialise in compensation and benefits or pensions. It has opened a lot of doors for me.”
2012 pension reforms
As he gets to know the industry, Couzens is facing other challenges, such as the 2012 pension reforms. “Our staging date will be the back-end of 2013, so we have time to work on it and put a process in place,” he says. “It will not be as difficult for us as for some organisations because there is provision for all employees to join the pension scheme, but we still need to make sure we are compliant.”
Another issue, from 1 October, is the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR), which give temporary agency staff the same basic working conditions, including pay, bonuses, working hours and holidays, as permanent staff after 12 weeks’ continuous employment. “We do hire them on an ad-hoc basis,” he says. “We do not have hundreds, but we have enough.”
Besides the industry’s burning issues, Couzens has to consider the challenges that accompany his particular role.
With 1,500 staff across 12 countries, he has to adapt communication to each country while maintaining one central message. “We have so many countries with different benefits, that communicating to a wide audience and keeping the message consistent is challenging,” he says. “A lot of our time is focused on the UK and Ireland because that is our biggest offering in terms of benefits. Other countries do not offer a full suite, so it is hard to promote something that does not have a lot of content.”
As he learns more about, and tackles, the challenges of his role, Couzens is keen to stay put for a few years. “My options are open, whether I specialise in one area of reward or explore other areas of HR, such as training or management,” he explains. “I am taking it one day at a time.”
• What are your positive attributes? I am quite analytical, which really helps in this job. There is a lot of data and information to analyse and report on. Doing compensation reviews is really digging into the details. I am interested in investigative work, so finding out the business justification or driver behind certain benefits.
• What are your hobbies? I am quite into photography. I also ski whenever possible. I met my wife through competitive alpine skiing when I was 14 years old. I used to play rugby, but now I just watch it, following the Harlequins rugby club and England.
• What are your favourite benefits? The Rewards for You discounts scheme offers things like grocery shopping at Sainsbury’s, and I just got a discount on an Apple MacBook Pro. The discounted gym membership is brilliant because I commute in from Winchester and can use the local gym at lunchtime.
Curriculum vitae: Dan Couzens
June 2011-present EMEA rewards programme manager, Yahoo!
2009-June 2011 senior talent acquisition consultant/ manager, Yahoo!
2009 sales recruitment manager, Mintel
2008-2009 EMEA recruitment lead, Websense
2006-2008 recruitment team leader, Siemens Global Shared Services
2005-2006 resourcing specialist, Siemens
2003-2005 recruiter, PRA International
2001-2002 recruiter, EDS Group
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