The issues of reducing pay gaps in the workplace and ensuring compensation transparency boils down to one question: How do we democratize information about salary, equity, and benefits, so employees and employers are on the same page?
To answer this question, we spoke with Amy Spurling, who is currently the Founder & CEO of Compt and previously led finance and HR teams at six high-growth companies — five of which had a successful exit.
The discussion is broken down into the following three topics:
- How focusing on employee benefits help companies in the long run
- What transparency means for salary, equity, and benefits
- Tips for HR leaders to empower employees to talk about compensation and equity
This post summarizes our chat with Amy on The High Growth Matters podcast episode: “Democratizing Compensation & Benefits in the Workplace”. To hear it all, subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast player.
How focusing on employee benefits help companies in the long run
If an employer and employee do not agree on compensation, talent will go elsewhere. But what happens when two companies offer the same pay?
“If you're trying to compete for talent and you don't pay them within a range, they're going to go somewhere else.” — Amy Spurling
In today’s workforce, when two competing companies offer the same pay, a candidate looks to the benefits of each employer; but equal benefits for all aren’t always top of mind (or feasible) for businesses. This realization inspired Amy to start Compt — an HR solution focusing on benefit packages.
Offering a more robust benefits package isn’t always straightforward. Yes, you can collect some data that will influence your offerings: Like pet insurance if a large majority of employees own pets. But collecting far more personal information is too much of an ask.
Amy explains, “Communication is one of the biggest issues for HR teams, and it's really an unfair mandate that's been given to them. They're supposed to read everyone's minds, come up with something amazing that's going to make every single person happy, and then figure out how to communicate to each individual employee. This is an untenable situation.”
The solution — increased personalization for employees. Allow HR teams to create sandboxes that allow individuals to use whatever vendors align with their personal needs.
Amy shares an example where, during the COVID-19 pandemic, one of 750 employees experienced a water heater explosion. Because they worked off of a stipend, that one employee was able to use that stipend to fix their water heater. The alternative would’ve forced HR to specifically cover water heaters — something that would’ve only benefited one person.
“When you empower HR with tools that can also be compliant, they can have that moment of yes, rather than worry about all the 1000s of reasons they have to say no.” — Amy Spurling
What transparency means for salary, equity, and benefits
Compensation, equity, and benefits are often treated as a dirty secret. The reason being how much more one employee is given compared to their peers. This is not only unfair, but a dangerous game to play for retention and trust’s sake.
Think of two employees with the same position and experience level, but with vastly different incomes. If both employees discovered that difference, there would be lasting repercussions. As soon as you lose the trust of your team, it’s almost impossible to get it back.
By moving to a stipend approach, Amy has seen HR teams being able to stop worrying about inequities so much.
Tips for HR leaders to empower employees to talk about compensation and equity
For many businesses already entrenched in the habit of keeping compensation secret, it’s time to remove the stigma. Everyone in Amy’s company knows her salary alongside everyone else’s.
“It's okay to talk about money, money is not a dirty topic.” — Amy Spurling
By removing the stigma and promoting transparency, especially at a leadership level, you’re allowing for much more productive conversations that can benefit everyone in the company, like improved trust, better retention, and investment strategies that historically are kept among select groups.
To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The High Growth Matters Podcast on our website, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or just search for The High Growth Matters Podcast in your favorite podcast player.