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As truly wise business people know, an organization is only as strong as their human resources department. In the following case scenario, the secretary who will be hired will before a fashion designer and her corresponding design house. For the sake of simplicity, let’s refer to the designer as Hayden Row and the design house as H. Row. The design line started small, as simply having a few pieces in a few boutiques in San Francisco. Soon department stores starting carrying pieces from the line, forcing the designer to expand across the nation, with his garments being found in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Washington D.C. Hayden Row is interested in expanding his presence in fine department stores along with opening up several of his own boutiques in select cities around the country.

Thus, the demands of this secretarial job will indeed be intense. The secretary will be in charge of all telephone and email correspondence — which will be sizeable. The secretary will have to arrange travel, organize meeting, engage in effective communication with PR agencies, engage in general administrative duties, help with brand research and development, orchestrate social media, correspond with both customers and their needs along with the needs of distributors. The secretary will at times be expected to attend fashion shows, and other times will be expected to stay in the office to “hold down the fort.” Foreign language skills are also essential, as well as a natural ability to organize and the teamwork skills. Furthermore, the hours of this job are often very erratic, with nights and weekends often necessary.

While secretaries often don’t earn a huge salary, the demands of this job are so strenuous and so ongoing, that there absolutely has to be additional compensation for this position, otherwise the job is simply draining. Moreover, there needs to be additional compensation also because the job requires a highly qualified individual. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, secretaries and administrative assistants can earn between $16.99 to $18.16, with the average salary being around $37,000 per year ( Higher salaries are indeed expected for secretaries who work in a particular field of expertise, such as legal secretaries, who make on average $50,000 per year. A salary this high would be preferable for this particular position, given the intensity and quantity of the work and requirements.

Thus, as is often typical, the biggest part of this compensation package will be the salary (Stewart & Brown, 2012). Rather, than having an at-risk compensation plan, this position will more strongly mimic the compensation strategy of IKEA which values teamwork over individual achievement, a balanced life and integrity (Stewart & Brown, 2012). “In contrast, organizations with cost leadership strategies, such as IKEA, prefer that employees make consistent contributions. Consistency is encouraged by rewarding employees who loyally complete basic tasks” (Stewart & Brown, 2012). However, there will be room for performance-based compensation so that the secretary is motivated to achieve strong results that directly benefit the company. For example, if this secretary secures a new distributor or increases the customer base, he/she will be entitled to bonuses of $500 to $1,500.

Bonuses help employees to establish goals and bonuses also work as a source of feedback. “Employees without goals will be naturally aimless. Provide them with clear achievable goals and make sure there are measurable standards in place to evaluate their performance” (Berkus, 2012). These simple tenets can be extremely effective in not only making an employee more productive, but also in building up a sense of pride in one’s work and overall job satisfaction. Goal setting for the secretary should not just be dictated by the employer, but should be a communal process of mutual reflection. This type of commonality, is a means of compensating the employee, as the employee will feel like she has greater agency in her position, and will be more likely to care a greater amount about her work completed.

Sporadic bonuses across the year also help employee performance to stay more consistent. “Set up a series of smaller rewards throughout the year to motivate ongoing performance excellence. For example, instead of an annual trip, award several three-day getaways for each quarter. Vary the basis for the awards. Top sales might be one category, but so can top research or most diligent. Recognize that several types of excellence motivate your employees to focus on additional areas of their performance” (Berkus, 2012). In this quote, Berkus, truly brings up an important point: some of the bonus methods of compensation are going to depend on the employee hired, as the most effective bonuses will be the ones that are unique to the employee. For instance, some people might just want bonuses in the form of free clothes and shoes. Other people would prefer strictly cash bonuses. There will be some exploration that the employer in this case scenario will have to engage in.

Benefits can be an equally intricate process and one which is essential to the success of hiring a quality individual for the position. “Providing good benefits is an important tool that helps an organization attract and retain quality employees. Unfortunately, many organizations fail to obtain the maximum value from employee benefits. Most employees significantly underestimate the amount of money that organizations spend on benefits” (Stewart & Brown, 2012). Thus, when the benefits package is presented to the prospective employee, it’s truly essential to state the monetary value of such a package, or else there is the danger of an employee failing to see how it is part of her compensation package (Stewart & Brown, 2012). There are two forms of benefits that will need to be supplied to the position: benefits required by law and those which will be provided to entice a quality individual and work for employee retention (Stewart & Brown, 2012).

For example, benefits required by law are things like social security and worker’s compensation, which will be present within the benefits package as required by law. For instance, “Current regulations require both the employee and the organization to contribute 7.65% (15.3% total) of wages and salary up to a certain amount to the social security fund” (Stewart & Brown, 2012). This benefits package will of course reflect that. Furthermore, a cafeteria-style benefits plan will complete the package, allowing the prospective employee a greater level of flexibility and autonomy in what is chosen. A cafeteria benefits package is often seen as a solution to many of these quandaries and challenges that are faced by employees. The employee needs to be able to select between one taxable benefit such as cash and one qualified benefit; a qualified benefit is not included in an employee’s total income (Gordon, 2012). For instance, accident and health benefits, dependent care assistance, group life insurance coverage, health savings accounts (HASs) are all possible, as long as the cafeteria plan doesn’t encompass benefits which defer pay (Gordon, 2012).

All of these factors will ideally work together to attract the right individual to the job. Given how stressful the position is, the compensation and benefits package really needs to be as effective and successful as possible.


Berkus, D. (2012, July 13). Six Ways to Drive Employee Performance and Motivation. Retrieved from (2012, May). May 2012 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. Retrieved from

Gordon, C. (2012, July 19). Simple Cafeteria Benefits Plans. Retrieved from

Stewart, G., & Brown. (2012). Human Resource Management. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

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