Jul 9, 2024

Transparency in Action: A look at Very’s pay strategy

Recap from my recent discussion with Very’s CPO about how they leverage pay transparency to build trust and streamline their HR processes

Transparency in Action: A look at Very’s pay strategy

Transparency in Action: A look at Very’s pay strategy

Recap from my recent discussion with Very’s CPO about how they leverage pay transparency to build trust and streamline their HR processes

A couple months ago, I led a round table discussion with a group of CHROs at the New York Stock Exchange. One topic in particular that seemed to keep coming up was pay transparency: how much should there be, how do you bake it into your comp strategy, and then how do you get org-wide buy-in on that strategy? One of the attendees, Very’s CPO, Jessica Begley had a particularly spicy approach to it that generated a lot of follow up questions and conversation at the table.

So, I invited Jessica to join me for a CandorIQ webinar to explore the topic a little more. You can watch the full episode on our LinkedIn, but I wanted to share a summary and some highlights below.

About Very’s pay strategy

Very is an IoT (Internet of Things) company. They are fully remote, have employees across five countries, and in all sorts of roles (though heavily focused on engineering talent). Their pay strategy reflects the unique needs that occur within their industry and their multiple geographies.

The hot take of Very’s pay strategy: Transparency from day one 

Every role at Very (whether it’s already filled or they’re hiring for it) has a defined pay band, clearly outlined benefits, and a job description that actually allows you to know what is expected of you. And—even hotter take—they stick to it. “It’s about finding the person who is the blend of skill and culture alignment,” Jessica explained. “Even if the skills match 100% but this compensation structure doesn't meet their needs, then they aren't the right fit at this point in time.”

Their employees have visibility of how compensation is determined by: function, geography, and level. For salary and variable pay. The levels are further broken down with very clear leveling guidelines, within their largest department—engineering— comp bands are published, and their managers are expected to annually evaluate where each of their employees falls within that structure. 

The importance of alignment in pay strategy

For Very’s transparent approach to work, it needs to be very structured and they need to have org-wide alignment, but especially with leadership. 

“I think that’s where sometimes people hesitate to roll out something that’s a little more structured,” Jessica said. “Because they want the slack in the system. And it’s because they might not be fully aligned.”

Regardless of how transparent (or translucent) our approach, getting everyone on the same page is crucial. 

The business impact of Very’s transparent approach

For a department that touches every other department and function in any given organization, HR is often overlooked when it comes to business strategy and impact. This leads to lack of investment in helpful resources (like CandorIQ!) and can make it difficult to have the conversations with the right stakeholders that would lead to true alignment and buy-in.

But, thanks to the way Very’s pay strategy is designed and documented, Jessica and her team are actually able to tie it back to the business’s goals. 

By outlining not only what someone is expected to achieve in their role, but also giving clear guidance on how to scale within the organization, Very’s attracted and retained a workforce of voracious learners. Jessica explained, “We are really incentivized as a business to have people who are continuously learning and growing. Then upskilling is a win for their own development, a win for our business, and a win for our clients because we can take on more complex technology challenges.”

And, thanks to their transparent and well-documented approach, there's a quantifiable number attached to the investment in each person’s growth and contributions. Showing employee-by-employee ROI. 

Tips for getting buy-in

I truly think the entire webinar is worth a watch or listen, but I promised you highlights, so below are my four takeaways for getting buy-in.

  1. Tie it back to the business. If you can’t make it clear that your pay strategy is connected to business objectives, you’ll never get true alignment. Remember that a more engaged workforce, driven by upskilling, is beneficial to business. 
  2. Set expectations and document everything. You need to be able to clearly explain where your strategy came from and how it impacts each person at the company. A clear communication plan and documentation are critical for providing clarity and helping people understand what the strategy looks like in execution.
  3. Don’t be afraid to start small. Maybe a bit ironic to follow a tip as daunting as “document everything,“ but the reality is a good pay strategy will take iteration. If you can’t find an org-wide solution overnight, start with one department or get buy-in on one piece. Prove it out, learn from it, then move onto the next piece. (See my blog from last week on what I call The Onion Approach.)
  4. Don’t tackle this in a vacuum. Compensation is a complex issue and the modern workforce is more multifaceted than ever. Find people and the resources that can help you. 

Very’s approach to pay strategy is fun to talk about because it’s bold and it works for them (did I mention that in all of 2023 they only had one person not accept a job offer??). But it isn’t necessarily for everyone. What is universal, however, is that regardless of how you structure your org’s compensation and total rewards, buy-in is critical to your success. 

If you’d like to learn more about how CandorIQ can help you create and implement your pay strategy, schedule a demo!

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