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Designing an employee experience that earns 4.8 stars on Glassdoor

Nov 29, 2022 2:00:00 AM | By


In this episode, Panther’s VP People Pamela Golden and Head of Talent Shathiya Rengalwar illuminate 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.

Join us as we discuss:

  • Critical elements of an employee-centered company
  • Creating a dynamite employee experience
  • Providing transparent candidate experiences
  • How using OpenComp empowers their recruiters and people managers




CAITLIN ALLEN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to another episode of high growth matters sponsored by open comp. I'm Caitlin Allen, your moderator, and I'm really excited to talk about today's topic. Open comp recently announced its first annual employers to watch awards. And this year the focus is on people first companies. So today we're talking with two executives from one of the winners, cybersecurity company Panther labs. And we're going to dive into understanding how it is that they have developed a 4.8 star rating on Glassdoor and built a company that is already known for an empowering leadership team. Its value of diva, and an excellent work ethic. And that's all before they reached 100 employees. So Pamela golden is Panthers VP of people and such a reservoir is head of talent. So ladies, welcome. Thank you for being here.

PAMELA GOLDEN: Good morning, and thanks so much for having us, Caitlin.

SHATHIYA RENGALWAR: Hello, everyone. Good morning. Thank you so much again, Caitlin, for having us here.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Back at you. Thank you. So let's let's start off by getting to know both of you a little bit. On the personal side. This is a typical first question for us. So Shathiya will begin with you you've built an impressive resume and talent acquisition at companies like branch and nimble RX and signified before you joined Panther labs. What is something that your coworkers don't usually know about you?

SHATHIYA RENGALWAR: Ah, something about me? Well, I was born and raised in India. So I do speak multiple Indian dialects from the southern region.

CAITLIN ALLEN: That's wonderful. Probably many more languages than I speak. And Pamela, you worked at large companies like Chevron and Google, as well as startups in a host of roles across marketing and analysts roles and HR roles before you joined Panther Labs is VP of people. What's something that most of your co workers don't know about you?

PAMELA GOLDEN: Well, I think I make no secret of the fact that I am a sports enthusiast. But I don't know if a lot of folks know that in college, I played both rugby and water polo. So definitely not afraid of the high contact sports.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Love it land and water. So let's let's talk a little bit in such a maybe you can walk us through the details about Panther labs in terms of age and size and locations. So the restaurants have a sense of your company.

SHATHIYA RENGALWAR: Yeah, of course. So we are headquartered in San Francisco, but operate in remote first culture with our employees distributed across North America. We also have a team based in Greece, you're still hiring and growing, and do anticipate ending the fiscal year around 200 employees. And you're fairly young. Jack founded the company back in 2018.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Okay, wonderful. And Pamela, how have you structured the people team.

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PAMELA GOLDEN: So in general, we have a sort of people and a talent side. But ultimately, as a lean and scrappy team at a startup. We really don't see huge boundaries in how we work and see ourselves as pulling together in the same direction, all trying to support each other and more broadly supporting and delivering a great experience to all of our employees. So Shathiya, as you know, leads our talent team so has some fantastic recruiters and RCS working with her. And I have someone who works on ops and does analytics for the people team, as well as an employee experience manager. So we do dedicate resources to making sure that we're consistently investing in improving the employee experience overall. But we do, as I alluded to kind of flex across roles depending on what is most needed. So Shathiya acts as the HR business partner for our EPD team. And someone on her team supports our GTM team in the same capacity as both a senior recruiter and an HR business partner.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Got it? So seeing again, that theme of athletes in multiple sports, just maybe, environment.

PAMELA GOLDEN: Absolutely. Great.

CAITLIN ALLEN: So Pamela is, as you know, but our listeners may not how Panther Labs was nominated was through employees, employees that nominated Panther labs for its support of them for making them feel valued. And like they have an impact in the future at Panther labs, as well as for the way that it shows up in its leadership team and its values. So I'm curious, maybe to start us out, how do you define employee Centricity or having a people first company at Panther labs? And, you know, if there are pillars of that strategy, perhaps you can share with us what those are as well?

PAMELA GOLDEN: Yeah, absolutely. So I think for me, being a people first or employees 100 company, it really means creating an environment where everyone belongs, and everyone feels that they're set up to do their best work. So for us, what's really central to that is belonging, leadership, accountability, and growth. So not meaning in terms of revenue, or headcount, growth, per se, but really providing meaningful opportunities for learning and impact for each of our employees. So we have a variety of ways to support these. But ultimately, so much comes down to leader role modeling, our leaders absolutely have to show up as their best selves and role model, our values of being an owner, move fast, and take care of the team, and consistently strive to improve their own leadership.

CAITLIN ALLEN: I love that. And I think I can understand even from listening to the description how that those values would show up to create an employee experience. It's wonderful from the first time you talk to candidates all the way through what it means to retain and empower a team. So maybe we can start going through that employee experience such a, how does your team bring that strategy to life that Pamela just described, from the very first time that a candidate encounters the Panther labs brand?

SHATHIYA RENGALWAR: Yeah, so an employee lifecycle typically starts from being a candidate. Right? That's, that's the very first touch point with the company. So as a talent team, we constantly drive the message throughout the interview process. One thing that I love about panther is we are very focused on a values driven culture, and our recruiter conversations and touch points, highlight how we embody our core values to build an employee centric company. And the team is filled with inspiring, caring and genuinely awesome people to work along. And as an employee is also electrifying to see your work having a visible impact on the business, whether it is a feature you build or a sale you make and you know, taking our team, the people that you bring through the door, and the entire company gets visibility into it. And it's such an awesome feeling like it sort of gives you that job satisfaction. An exciting part of working at Panther is you can continue to excel and grow in your in your current role. But there are a lot of other opportunities for you to explore. And our leaders are constantly striving to ensure that each employee is growing their skills. And that's like a critical part of why we are constantly investing in enabling our managers and leaders. The role you're hired and is just your starting point. And you have the opportunity to build your destiny here. As I mentioned earlier, I started as the head of talent, but I got this great opportunity to support the APD arc as the HR VP and same with one of the recruiters on my team. She was also the HR VP for the Ark she's supporting. These are real success stories and we share them with our candidates and every single time we always end up with such a process. Do restaurants.

CAITLIN ALLEN: It's a great way of really attracting go getters to I believe I heard one of your values was to move fast or something along that those lines. So if that's something you are then that it sets you up to attract more of the same, which I really like. Pamela, maybe we can talk a bit about measurements, we've talked about the definition. And then how do you from an employee experience level, and then we'll get a little bit more specific measure the effectiveness of your employee experience strategy across all of all of the employee base at Panther?

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PAMELA GOLDEN: Well, of course, we look at a variety of indicators, but the common theme across all of them is listening and paying attention. So we run an annual engagement survey and also quarterly pulse surveys to collect hard data on sentiment. And we're always measuring that and looking to understand drivers behind that. We also look at other indicators as well, such as what proportion of our new hires are coming from referrals, as another indicator of, of essentially, your employees Net Promoter Score. And we do look at voluntary attrition, we look at the diversity of our workforce to ensure that we're building a really representative group of individuals. And we also collect data from onboarding check ins with both new hires and managers. Because setting people up for success early is so important to them being able to thrive long term at Panther

CAITLIN ALLEN: makes a lot of sense. And then such a for you and your org, what does measuring the candidate experience look like from a an indicators perspective,

SHATHIYA RENGALWAR: candidate experience, one of my favorite topics, the best way to measure if your hiring processes effective, and the eyes of those who are interviewing is to simply ask and listen to them, our candidates, an easy way to do that is leveraging feedback loops. So our talent team has rolled out candidate surveys as part of the hiring process. And that's super helpful because we get insights into how fair welcoming and effective the hiring process was. From a candidate standpoint. We also have quarterly OKRs tied to a candidate NPS score. And we constantly look into any valuable or actionable feedback from the comments. In fact, candidates have shared thoughts about their experience with specific interview sessions, how they could have been done differently, make it more effective engaging, we listened to all of these inputs and brainstorm internally, to fix any gaps in our process. We also do a three week recruiter check in with our new hires to touch base on their pre boarding and onboarding experience.

CAITLIN ALLEN: What I'm hearing actually as a consistent theme in both of your answers so far is this theme of listening and learning, which implies a curiosity and a hunger for constant growth. So just want to call that out. Because it's, it's important. And the other thing too, that came to mind when you were talking such as is, I'm hearing a lot about quality in your metrics, not necessarily quantity, which is probably central to some of the the nominations that we received in the 4.8. Plus was on your, your review page. So so thank you for that. Maybe moving a bit farther along the candidate, or pardon me, the employee experience, once in a candidate becomes an employee and you have the three week check in, then retention becomes a priority. And so Pamela would love to understand what career pathing looks like at Panther since that's so central to that topic.

PAMELA GOLDEN: Oh, absolutely. And, you know, there's, as they say, if if they're not growing, they're going right. And so providing opportunities for people is absolutely critical to having a productive and thriving workforce. So I mentioned that growth is a core part of our people strategy earlier. And career pathing is absolutely one component of that. So I think the foundation is really having clear career ladders that are shared very transparently so people understand what is expected of them in their current role, and how they can get to the next level and deliver that and it gives us really great foundation for managers and their reports to talk about growth and career. We're also trying to move to the next step of organizational maturity by defining specific criteria for growth in certain career paths such as from SDR to AE, for example, and have hopefully laid a really strong foundation in terms of having clear processes for internal transfers. We created these with input and feedback from the business to ensure that it's balancing rigor, and being sort of fit for purpose with our internal employees. And I'd say we've also had success moving people across pods or teams within the engineering function. Our Customer Success organization has been a great exporter of talent to to multiple places, both in the go to market and technical side of the organization. But I think one thing that's really important for me, is you kind of alluded to in the opening, and you can see from my background, I have not had a linear career path at all. So while transparency and robust processes are important, I think it's even more critical for employees and managers to have a growth mindset and think that skills can be built and developed and people are able to learn. And if they have this foundational drive that you talked about to learn and grow, people can find success in many different functions. They those traits of sort of desire to drive impact and desire to learn and grow, really position you to thrive just about anywhere in a company.

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CAITLIN ALLEN: I've deeply agree on a principle level. And so so love that response. And one of the things that you mentioned, and is really inherent in the idea of having career pathing is the idea of transparency, transparency of information about a path forward. And so I'd love to dive into understanding what pay transparency looks like, for recruiting and hiring such Oh, when you're posting a job talking to candidates even talking to employees.

SHATHIYA RENGALWAR: Yeah, so I found there, we don't ask about a candidate's salary history. But instead, we provide them with the range. We have from open calm during the initial conversation to avoid any discrepancies later in the process. Our recruiter conversations dive deeper into what are they truly optimizing for the motivational drivers, particularly around like compensation? Like are they cash driven? Or like do they understand the future potential of equity and whatnot. For the most part, we use data from open comm to ensure that we pay a standard person tale of the San Francisco market on both cash and equity. We don't adjust the salary based on location. In reality, it doesn't matter where they live, or what their what they were making prior. We simply use the open comp range for total compensation for the level we are offering them. We are very excited about the recent pay transparency legislation since it ensures clarity in equity across the board. I've been working with Pamela under head of legal on putting together the language the verbiage that we want to share on our job postings and very excited about, you know, the change.

CAITIN ALLEN: Yeah, we are to I think it's we really are hitting a tipping point as a nation around the attention and the structure that will be given to bringing maybe democratizing information around compass the best way to say it, where employers and employees have the same level of access to data, which is something I'm super passionate about. And it definitely sounds like you're ready for January 1, which is which is good as it's fast approaching us. Are we ready? To then so that initial investment, very important, right? It creates transparency and trust with the the candidate and the employees from day one around the fact that they're being paired, paid equitably and consistently in market and within your company for their roles. Pamela, then how does the entire people team carry that initial investment in pay equity and pay transparency forward across the employee lifecycle?

PAMELA GOLDEN: As you heard Shathiya say we do have clearly defined pay ranges by role and by level and so this is really important for us to drive equitable outcomes for internal transfers and for promotions. Additionally, when we run compensation planning to do To determine merit increases for the year, we really focus heavily on impact over indicators such as tenure, to determine the compensation changes, and we think about the workforce in terms of relative positioning and the pay bands and and copper ratios. Because ultimately, individuals with similar performance, similar impact in the same role should be positioned similarly in our pay bands, with no respect to any other aspects of their identity or background or previous experience. So as a fairly young company, we've actually only done compensation planning once. And before we actually delivered the compensation planning outcomes to individuals. I hosted a training session that was open to everybody in the company, where I walked through exactly what our compensation philosophy is how we define pay bands, what does it mean to be eligible for an increase? How does performance factor into that, and gave the team some vocabulary to understand things like comp or ratios, because we did not want our employees to feel like compensation planning was just a black box. And a bunch of leaders just go off into a dark room and throw darts at the wall to figure out what's happening. But we wanted them to understand that it was very robust, intentional, and that what we were driving towards is reinforcing a culture of performance and trust, and driving equitable outcomes. And that is absolutely core to who we are at Panther.

CAITLIN ALLEN: You're so right that it so that compensation planning often does live in a black box, along with most information about compensation, I think, at least up until this point. And what I love about that is you're creating bridges for people and giving them the tools to keep building bridges for themselves to understand their place and their place in the future in the company, which, which is a great way of aligning company and individual incentives. So thank you for sharing that. As we round out the questions. One thing I would love to hear since learning and curiosity, and listening has come up so many times for both of you. What are the tactics that you are testing right now, as it relates to improving the candidate and the employee experience?

SHATHIYA RENGALWAR: I can chime in. Hiring is a critical lever to build a diverse and inclusive environment. And often companies don't realize that the interview experience becomes their brand. hit upon Panther, we actually operate in a candidate first mindset and continue to find ways to enhance our candidate experience. To make sure that our interview process is inclusive, we do ask the candidates to share if they have any special accommodation requests for their interviews. And we will make reasonable accommodations to enable candidates with disabilities to participate in an interview process. We rolled out interview guides customized to each roll that sort of provides candidates a preview of what to expect during each conversation. And also learn a little bit about the team members. They're meeting with like almost on the personal front, a quick little blurb about each interviewer. This has been a huge hit with our candidates. We also optimized our offer process. Once it's approved internally, we do an offer presentation with candidates, both the recruiter and the hiring manager. They hop on a call to sort of walk them through not only the compensation package, but the benefits the 3060 day milestone, why are we really excited about them the rationale big behind why we are offering them. It's very intentional and personal and customized for every single candidate. Our goal is to provide a stellar and inclusive experience to every single candidate going through our process. Irrespective of the final outcome. It's simply the right thing to do.

PAMELA GOLDEN: Well, Shathiya is not a boastful person by nature, and she would never brag so I'm gonna brag on her and the talent team for a minute here. We just wrapped our q3 A handful of days ago. And we've set a goal around increasing the representation of individuals that identify as female on our technical interview panels to 70% and exceeded that milestone. So when we talk about creating an inclusive interview Experience, one of the key things is making sure that we have a diverse group of voices that are involved in the hiring process. This has been something that is really important to us. And we've been very intentional around investing in. And so I'm very excited that we're able to deliver that. I also would note that beyond the interview process, we really invest heavily in the onboarding experience. So we have a program we call Panther pals, to match new employees with a buddy to help them navigate the complexities of onboarding in our remote environment. We have standardized checklists to make sure that all of the tactical stuff gets done and doesn't fall through the cracks just because there's nobody physically there to collect things. And we also do to new employee check ins as well as a manager check in to ensure that things are going smoothly with the onboarding, make sure that folks feel a connection to the people and talent team, so that they can reach out for us if we need anything. And and we're also experimenting with other sort of small ways to create moments of inclusion. So for example, in our swag, we have Panther branded scrunchies, right, and thinking about what are items that maybe companies don't always make accessible. And these are things that can be enjoyed by anyone with long hair, women, children, men, but it goes beyond just a unisex t shirt to say, hey, we're thinking about individuals and what people find useful and fun.

CAITLIN ALLEN: So thoughtful, I think the other thing I'm hearing from both of you is, you've somehow managed to think about the big picture at the same time that you're paying very fine attention to detail. And that's that's really what's making a lot of this sing. Pamela, as we've both alluded already, in this call, Panther recently became an open comm customer. And I'm curious how that decision, how it supports what we've been talking about today.

PAMELA GOLDEN: Yeah, I think we both alluded to this idea of really clear pay bands. And having that clarity and very explicit guidance for recruiters and the people team around this is our hiring. This is the hiring portion of the band. This is where people who are new into the role new to the company, land so that we are always anchoring on this. This equity is absolutely critical. It enables consistency and transparency. And that's backed by market data. And because we care so deeply about the EIB centering equitable outcomes at every phase of our employee lifecycle was absolutely critical for our compensation philosophy. And so open comp is a tool that really helps us with that.

CAITLIN ALLEN: I'm so glad to hear that such a would you add anything there?

SHATHIYA RENGALWAR: Absolutely. I guess this is my time to brag a little bit on how much Pamela and the people team have been constantly investing heavily in building a strategic compensation band across the world based on market data that's fair, competitive, and also make financial sense for Panther. With open comm. We are able to empower both recruiters and hiring managers with that information when making hiring decisions. On top of it, we also have the peace of mind that every new hire is paid in an equitable way with our existing employees.

CAITLIN ALLEN: And that really, that is an important point from the business perspective, because part of taking care of employees is making sure we can take care of employees in a sustainable way. And we're living this week right between Mehta layoffs and Stripe layoffs and Twitter layoffs where some of the reason that's happening is because folks were perhaps hired too soon. So that thoughtfulness really is a gift in the long term to your employee base as well. And I appreciate you sharing that with me. As we wrap up every episode with the same question, and there's a lot of good stuff here to look back in our conversation and assess as you think about your answer to this one, I would love to ask both of you. If you were going to give our listeners one piece of advice from today's conversation, what would it be?

PAMELA GOLDEN: Oh, that's, that's a tough one. So I think one of the things you called out earlier, just highlight again, which is listen to your employees. They they know a lot. But I also want to just call out it's sort of that time of year where we start thinking about gratitude. I've been reflecting a lot lately on gratitude. And so just encourage anyone listening all the hard working people and talent leaders. Think about what you're grateful for, make sure you're thanking your teams for all the hard work they do, and the leaders working alongside you, just looking to build the best place they possibly can for all the employees and teammates to grow and thrive and what what we do is so important, and so impactful. And I feel really grateful and lucky to be doing this work every day and help others appreciate that as well.

SHATHIYA RENGALWAR: I echo Pamela's thoughts here. I do feel grateful in having a meaningful impact on the business through the work we do every day, and also very thankful to be part of an incredible team. On a different note, this has been a very tough year for a lot of people, particularly talent folks. And hearing about the layoffs is heartbreaking. But as someone who has seen the market shift over years, this pattern of reduction and renewal has been part of history, and nothing new to the tech industry. So it is crucial to remember that things will get better on the current state will and eventually there's light at the end of the tunnel. Until then, focus on growing your skills, spend time with your loved ones. And please take care of yourself.

CAITLIN ALLEN: I love that it's such a great note to end on gratitude and resilience and renewal as we think about how we can move move forward. Both of you Pamela, such a thank you so much for the incredible wisdom you've shared with us today as well as your investment of time and for being an open calm customer. And it to our listeners thank you for being here. Don't forget to follow us on whatever podcast platform you're listening to. And if you have ideas for topics or guests, please email Have a great day everyone.

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