5 People-Focused Strategies for High-Growth Companies
by STACEY KLIMEK
Likely one of the most charismatic people in the office, Stacey moved into the head of human resources role in 2014, after joining PayScale in 2009 as the Controller. Stacey possesses more than 25 years of executive, financial, and administrative experience inside fast-growth enterprises, most recently as CFO of Redhawk Group. Previously, Stacey held leadership positions with NetMotion Wireless (acquired by Padcom Inc.) and Captura Software (acquired by Concur Technologies).
Announcer: Well, I think one of the most charismatic people in the office, Stacey Klimek moved into the Head of Human Resources role in 2014 after joining PaceScale in 2009 as the controller. Stacey possesses more than 25 years of executive, financial, and administrative experience inside fast growth enterprises, most recently as CFO of Redhawk Group. Previously Stacey held leadership positions with NetMotion Wireless, acquired by Padcom, Inc. and Capture Software, acquired by Concur Technologies. Please welcome to Elevate 2015, Stacey Klimek.
Stacey Klimek: Welcome! I'm really excited to be here today to talk to you about 5 People Focused Strategies for High Growth Companies. My name is Stacey Klimek, and I'm the VP of People at PayScale. I've been with PayScale for six and a half years, and I was actually a customer of PayScale prior to joining the company. I really believe in our mission and our product. Our mission at PayScale is to help companies design, communicate, and optimize compensation strategies that enable businesses and employees to thrive. We've got the largest salary database in the world. We are about data, software, and services combined. We believe that transparent fact based relationships between companies and employees will generate the best outcome, enabling both to thrive. PayScale's located in Seattle, Washington, in the heart of Pioneer Square. We are a SaaS company who's been around for about 12 years. We have close to 250 employees and we've doubled in size over the last two years. In Seattle, it's a very competitive market. Everyone knows that there's a lot of tech talent in our area. But there's not only tech talent. We're competing with Boeing, Deloitte, as well as Amazon, Microsoft, Zillow. It's really important that you know your labor market and that you are able to tell the story about why your company is different than those you're competing with.
The first in the five strategies we're going to talk about today is that pay is the foundation, not the only part of your strategy. When looking at TCC and total pay, it's not just about money. It's really about culture, about learning and development, it's about the product or the service that you're delivering. While we believe at PayScale that compensation is keystone, it really affects all other areas of the business. Recruitment, budget, performance and engagement, and retention. When we're recruiting and telling our story, some of the things that make us different at PayScale are some of the perks. Unlimited PTO, we have free lunches, we have casual dress. And we have team specific perks. For example, our sales team loves a free coffee bar on the last day of the month when they're trying to close and hit a quota. Our engineers love free food and they get Amazon Fresh Delivery every week. We also have flexible work hours which is very attractive for parents or folks who live outside of the city and can commute at various hours.
And what's really important at PayScale, and I'm finding at many companies, is giving back to the community. At PayScale, we had some employees create what's called PayScale Cares. And we actually have four or five initiatives where our employees give their time on the weekends or evenings to give back to the community. And we've also found that it's really attractive that plus ones like to join too. Whether it's a spouse, a friend, children, it's really a great way for your employees to get to know each other and to spend time with each other outside of the office. Work-life balance is also a powerful perk and we really believe in this at PayScale. It's not just something that we talk about to get people to work here. We believe that your work persona should be your home persona. And really, there should be a balance. So if it's important for you to be home at six o'clock every night to have dinner with your family, we tell employees to go home and have dinner with their family. It's just really important that you allow each employee to identify what's important to them. It's not just about pay, it's what you're offering outside of total cash compensation.
Our second strategy is it starts with recruiting and retaining talent. I feel it's really important that you always need to keep in mind how are we going to retain the talent that we've worked so hard to recruit. For many recruiters and many HR professionals, there are metrics for getting butts in seats. At PayScale we don't look at those metrics. We've tried it before, it doesn't work. When we were doubling our sales team a few years ago we hired very quickly, let go of some of our hiring standards as far as culture fit. And we really just were trying to get butts in seats quickly so we could build out a full sales team and start achieving some of the business objectives that we had set. It doesn't work. You really want to make sure you take the time to get the right talent the first time around.
I found that it's extremely important to pay attention to the people you've worked so hard to hire. Listen and take action. We had employees for years sending me articles week after week about sit-stand desks. It was the rage, folks were building their own. We had barstools, we had plywood, we had...you name it. People were building their own sit-stand desks. So when we moved into a new office, about six months ago, we really listened to our employees and we chose to make the investment in sit-stand desks. And people love it. Even folks who said I'll never stand at my desk, you see them all the time sitting, standing. It's so good for an employee's well-being. But also our employees are really excited that we listened to them, and we chose to invest in something that they really wanted.
And also, it's the little things. Look at the demographic of your company. Are you heavily engineering focused? Do they like free food? Do they like a dark quiet work environment? When we moved into our new offices, we really were careful that our engineering floor is quiet, it's got low lighting. Our sales floor is loud, there's lots of open areas for them to collaborate. So just make sure that you know what's important and what's going to move the lever for your employees, and that it doesn't always have to cost money. It's just really in changing the environment around them or acknowledging that you can't do something about it. Have a conversation. Sometimes people will give suggestions. And if they just go into a little black hole, that doesn't work either. Let them know you've heard them, let them know it's not a priority for the company right now, or that it doesn't fit within the budget right now. And maybe work with them to figure out if there's something that you can do if there's some sort of happy medium.
The third strategy that we're going to talk about today is leveraging technology. Wherever you can automate, automate. Depending on the size of your company, you don't need every piece of technology out there. Figure out what's going to fit best with the size of your company, and also keep in mind how quickly you plan to scale. At PayScale, we chose to focus on HRIS, compensation and recruiting. We found as we were going through hyper growth and doubling in size, we needed an ATS system. It doesn't have to have all the bells and whistles. We didn't have to spend a lot of money. We worked directly with our engineering group to find something that provided transparent, easy information, that we were all able to use, and literally implemented a system overnight. It allowed us to talk to hundreds of candidates and hire really quickly.
It's two years later and we're evaluating a new ATS system as we continue to grow in scale. So my advice to you when looking at systems: figure out what you need now, doesn't have to cost a lot of money, and then plan longer term on how it's going to scale with you. Another area for us is we were able to outsource our HRIS system. This allowed us to make offers online, work with candidates quickly, and our onboarding process was seamless with our new hires. And then obviously for us, compensation is an area that you should really take the time to make sure you invest in. And that you really know your labor market. You know that you're paying candidates competitively, as well as, paying your employees competitively. So I want to reiterate that you don't have to do everything on your own. Understanding that most teams don't have huge staff. Outsource and leverage experts. Whether it's technology experts in comp, HRIS, recruiting, or consultants and contractors who can come in and help you implement these systems.
The fourth strategy is to empower your leaders. What do your leaders mean to you? It's going to look different at every organization. Your leaders are the foundation to your strategy. At PayScale, we asked ourselves what did this look like? So in the beginning of 2015, we started small. We said we are going to invest in our management team, which is our executives, any manager with direct reports, any director levels that don't have direct reports, and a handful of thought leaders. For us to have a small defined group of individuals that we were going to begin investing in, it allowed us to start taking baby steps to figure out what that looks like. It's about creating a ripple effect and what message do you want your leaders spread. We were really excited to make sure our leaders understood what is our culture about. Why do we work here? We wanted our leaders to feel empowered. They get to self-solve, they get to make their own decisions, they get to bring ideas to the executive board. It doesn't matter what size of a company you are, it's about getting your leaders to think about scale. By investing in your employees, it's helping with retention, it's helping to lay the foundation to scale with the company. And your managers eventually are going to be the decision makers.
The fifth strategy is to champion your initiatives. This is really close to my heart. I feel sometimes that HR or people practitioners are afraid to step up and tell people what they really do. You initiatives may fall under culture, they may fall under development and learning, it could be talent, it could be HR, it could be operations. But you need to figure out what's important and what story you want to tell to the rest of the organization. Develop programs that speak to C-Level and your leadership. What's important to the business right now and how are you going to support those initiatives and help drive the business to achieve their goals? Utilize the resources you have. You probably have some really great employees in other groups. I can tell you at the beginning of this past year, I had someone from our sales operations and from our B to B marketing team come to me and say, "Hey, we have a great idea on how we should onboard new employees."
Onboarding was a main priority in my group, but we have multiple priorities, and we just hadn't developed the program. We sat down, and within two weeks, across multiple departments, we built and rolled out an onboarding program for our entire organization. We utilized the leaders from every department in our company. And the first one was a little quirky, but we now do new hire onboarding once a month. And it's really become an outlet for our employees to work together, to collaborate, to share what their organization is about to the new employees. So by utilizing resources across the company, you can really make things happen. Think about your people team or your HR team. What is it that you really own? At PayScale, our people team, we own culture, we own development and learning, we own talent, we own traditional HR, and we own operations and facilities. What does this mean? Tell the story, let people know what it is that you are all about. Is your people team, are you strategists or are you order takers? It's okay to be either one; one is not better than the other. But really be able to tell your story. Define what you want to accomplish and how you can help and support all the other areas of the business.
In closing, I want to share with you that PayScale, while we are a compensation, HR faced team business, we actually didn't have a dedicated people group until about a year ago. HR always fell within the finance and accounting functions. And a year ago we made the choice to focus on people. It's really been an amazing ride, experiencing the hyper growth, really choosing how we were going to scale our company, and maintain our culture. It's really something I wake up and think about every single day. Obviously the culture of a 500 person company may not be exactly the same as a 50 person company, but we're really making choices about what's non-negotiable and what we have to change to actually scale as we continue to grow. So I encourage you to take a step back, look at a few of the strategies we've talked about today, figure out how they work within your organization, and just think about doing one little thing. It doesn't have to be big. One little thing makes an immediate impact. It may not have to cost a lot, but it really will impact the people you work with every day, as well as the candidates you're trying to attract for your business.