OpenComp recently announced its first annual “Employers to Watch” awards — this year, with a focus on people-first companies. In the most recent episode of High Growth Matters, we were joined by executives from one of the winners, Panther Labs. VP People, Pamela Golden, and Shathiya Rengalwar, Head of Talent, illuminatde their process for earning a 4.8-star rating on Glassdoor and building a company known for its empowering leadership team, value of DEIBA, and excellent worth ethic — all before reaching 100 employees.
This blog is adapted from that conversation and covers:
- Elements of an employee-centered company - from salary ranges to pay transparency and more
- Creating a dynamite employee experience
- How using OpenComp empowers their recruiters and people managers
To hear the full episode, visit this page, or subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast player, such as Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
What goes into creating an employee-centered company?
Employees nominated Panther Labs for the Employers to Watch award for making its employees feel valued and supported. Panther’s employees feel like they have an impact on the future of the company. The company's leadership and values are ingrained in a way that makes a critical impact on employees, and it shows.
While leaders at Panther Labs may make it look easy to foster this kind of environment, it takes careful cultivation and intentional decision-making, all beginning with a clear understanding of what it means to be employee-centered.
“For us, it means creating an environment where everyone belongs and feels they're set up to do their best work,” Pamela says. “It’s about belonging, leadership, accountability, and growth — not in terms of revenue, but providing meaningful opportunities for learning and impact for each of our employees. Pay transparency is a huge factor.”
To create this environment, leaders must show up as the best version of themselves and serve as role models for their peers. According to Pamela, it’s crucial that leadership model the values at Panther’s foundation: be an owner, move fast, and take care of the team.
There are several tangible ways that leaders bring this strategy to life.
Focusing on values-driven culture across the employee lifecycle
Every employee touchpoint, from the first recruiter conversation through each level of growth and off-boarding, should incorporate the organization's values, says Shathiya. Panther highlights how employees embody the company’s values from day one, with the talent team constantly driving the message through the interview process.
Then, employees are met with genuine, caring, inspiring team members that align with the organization's values across the entire experience.
Creating visibility in employee impact
“As an employee, it’s electrifying to see your work having a visible impact on the business,” Shathiya says.
Whether you highlight employee-developed features, successful sales campaigns or other work efforts, it’s vital to recognize employees for what they contribute to the company. Create an environment where the entire organization gets visibility into the contributions of each team member.
Ensure that skills are growing
At Panther, employees must continuously grow in their roles. The organization focuses on enabling leaders and managers, who, in turn, constantly work to help their employees grow their skills.
There are also many opportunities for employees outside of their direct roles. Employees can climb the ranks and change focus if they wish, and they are supported, enabled and urged to do so. And when they succeed in up-skilling, their success stories are shared.
“The role you're hired for is just your starting point,” Shathiya says.”You have the opportunity to build your destiny here.”
Creating a dynamite employee experience
The most important part of creating a fantastic employee experience is having curiosity and a hunger for constant growth.
Before you can improve an existing experience, you have to listen and pay attention to your employees. Panther does a few things to keep a pulse on employee experience:
- Clearly communicate salary ranges
- Collect hard data with annual engagement surveys and quarterly pulse surveys
- Understand what proportion of new hires come from referrals
- Focus on diversity to ensure a representative employee population
- On-boarding check-ins with new hires and managers
- Asking candidates about their experience in the hiring process
Once you understand the current state of your employee experience, you can begin to shape and adapt it to increase satisfaction, retention and employee success.
“Simply asking and listening is a great way to leverage feedback loops,” Shathiya says. “It’s the only way to get employee and candidate standpoints.”
Improving employee experience with career pathing
Panther doesn’t offer positions to people who wish to remain stagnant.
“Providing opportunities for people is absolutely critical to having a productive and thriving workforce,” Pam says.
Panther offers clear career ladders that are based in pay transparency. Employees are made aware of what’s expected in their current role and how they can get to the next level, as well as what salary range is involved. With specifically defined criteria for certain career paths and clear processes for internal transfers, employees understand how they can move forward in their careers.
While creating transparent and robust processes is important, one thing matters even more — a growth mindset.
“People have to believe that skills can be built and they have the capability to learn,” Pamela says. “They need the desire to drive impact, to learn and grow to thrive anywhere in a company.”
Empowering recruiters and people managers with OpenComp
Pay transparency is important in empowering recruiters, people managers and employees, according to Pamela and Shathiya. And since they began utilizing OpenComp, creating clear salary ranges and paths to pay increases has become easier and more accurate.
During the recruitment process, Panther does not ask questions about previous pay. Instead, they offer salary ranges provided by OpenComp during the initial conversations to avoid any discrepancies.
“We walk through exactly what our compensation philosophy is, how we define pay bands, and what it means to be eligible for an increase,” Pamela says. “We give the team some vocabulary to understand things because we want our employees to know compensation planning is robust and intentional.”
“In reality, it doesn't matter where they live or what they were making prior,” Shathiya says. “We simply use the OpenComp range for total compensation for the role level we offer them.”
See OpenComp's Range Builder in action.
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