Tuesday, January 5, 2016

All About (Part 1) Employee Benefit Statements, aka Total Compensation Statements

HR Communications has been providing employee benefit statements (aka Total Compensation Statements) since 1988 and I am fairly sure that no one has written more about these documents than myself. Yet, I forgot that I set up this blog more than three years ago and left it unattended with the compelling word, 'test'.

Stick with me on this blog as there will be some very interesting developments for Employee Communications during 2016.

In 1988, we were technologically challenged. Our first benefit statements effort was supported by a Macintosh SE, with a 20 Meg HD, 1 Meg of Ram and a Laserwriter that printed 8.5" x 11" documents in black and white at a stunning 4 pages per minute. Data was retrieved from customers by receiving printouts that then required data entry into our own 'system'. Niagara Mohawk Power was our largest customer with ~ 9,000 customers and we would commonly receive a fax that was at least 200' long. These faxes were called 'the Dead Sea Scrolls' (sorry Onondaga Lake), were cut into 11" lengths and placed under boxes to help remove the curl from the specialty fax paper.

Yet somehow, we managed to be the high tech leader by providing unique extras such as personalized pie charts. That's right, we were in the lead. There was no such thing as chart libraries. We drew these charts in Excel, one by one and then included in our simple database. Producing these complex documents often required as many as 25 different, niche applications.

I'll spare you a history of the past 27 years and leap to the present and seemingly diverge by talking a bit about a very important event that will take place during 2016.

This year, if all goes according to plan, Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG2) will be recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium. I understand that this blog is most likely speaking to Compensation & Benefits Manager, so I'll truncate the techie talk by saying that SVG2.0 will be a very unusual type of 'software'. First, it will be human readable XML, which is simply text. This text is then interpreted (rendered) by modern browsers so that you can view what is below (an svg).  

You see, this is NOT an image though it is visual. Notice the data fields, such as '$F{first}. These are the data 'hooks' that will identify where and how to integrate the variable data. The light blue rectangle above the legend? That is where the Total Compensation Chart will be generated. We have been preparing for SVG2.0 for years. In fact, I think I could say that we have been preparing since 1988. Of course, employee benefit statements are only a small piece of the possibilities. All we need do is to design a different SVG Template and include a variation of the same basic data, allowing for an entirely different focused communication.

 If you want to prepare your HR Department and Employee Communications efforts for the next ten years, stop by and see us at HR & Employee Communications or come directly to the software side of the SVG and Data Integration project. Free Demos and Templates are being set up right now and should be available during the week of January 11, 2016. at

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