There are many reasons why salary transparency is important to us, but the biggest catalyst for launching a Compensation Strategy at Seer was – surprise, surprise – the data. But not cold, emotionless data in this case. This data reflected the often uncomfortable feelings surrounding salary.
According to employee feedback from our annual engagement surveys, the team consistently reported that they felt confused and dissatisfied about their compensation. It was critical for us to bring transparency to compensation decisions at Seer, and now we’re excited to share it publicly.
See how Emily Allen, Director of People Operations at Seer, navigated the launch of our Compensation Strategy – including company-wide salary transparency – in this video, the slide deck she presented to the company, and a summary of her experience, in her own words.
In this interview, Emily shares, from beginning to end, the complex process of launching a compensation strategy—one that solidified the team’s understanding of their compensation and earning potential. We went from 9% to 97% team understanding of how compensations decisions are made.
“When I started at Seer Interactive some three and a half years ago, I was the first “HR” and recruiting person the company had. At that time, we were about 50-60 or so people in total headcount. Coming from industries that were highly regulated like government, finance, and education, I’d become pretty risk-averse in my practice. Okay, I was compliance-crazed. Looking back it always makes me laugh (and cringe) that one of my first orders of business was to immediately get the appropriate Labor Law posters ordered and in place, along with ensuring we had I-9s for the whole team on file (which we didn’t). I’ll never forget Wil’s face when I excitedly shared with him that the posters were ordered and I’d be hanging them in the kitchen [his face read: oh, HELL NO, we’re not hanging some lawyer-y looking posters in our cool common space!] …I actually think my face looked the exact same way when Wil first talked to me about making salaries transparent at Seer. Full circle!
Here’s how it started: in anonymous employee engagement surveys, one mark we consistently scored low in was compensation. As a Leadership Team, we decided to prioritize scaling the way that we manage and communicate to our team about compensation because of that feedback. When poring over comments and suggestions, it was clear that
the team didn’t understand how compensation decisions were made by the company.
Additionally, they didn’t understand when they were made or at what cadence they were made, and maybe even more importantly, they didn’t understand how they could impact their compensation. In general, we did not have a clear, articulate way to speak about our beliefs as it relates to how we pay our team. So, we set out to do just that: very, very transparently.
I immediately began searching for information. [Read: how the hell do I do this?] After all, there are HR professionals whose whole job is about defining compensation strategy. I searched online, I spoke with consultants, and I had many lunch and coffee dates with industry peers to understand how they’d done it. The only “resource” that I was able to uncover that would assist me in this journey was hiring someone to do it for me. While it was an option, it wasn’t the best one for us. So,
I poured myself a big cup of coffee, rolled up my sleeves, put my figure-it-out glasses on
and with the support of a few members of our Leadership Team, got to work.
We launched our strategy, company-wide, in January 2017 and now we’re sharing it publicly with all of you. By no means am I an expert here, I’m creating, failing, learning and re-creating on the daily. However, this is really freakin’ hard. There’s no instruction kit on how to build something like this, how to best launch it, and refine it. My hope is that by publicly sharing this journey, it will serve as an inspiration.
I hope it will allow other companies to have a jumping off point; learn from my failures, and take away ideas that they may be able to implement to increase their team’s understanding of such a sensitive, uncomfortable, yet really important piece of their career and development: compensation.”
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