Search Influence Compensation Philosophy, New and Improved for 2017
August 7th, 2017 by
We’ve made some big changes for the Search Influence team in 2017, and the year is only half over.
Whether you’re an employee (current or future) or a client, these changes will have a direct impact on you. Our goal is to improve the employee experience so that our employees continue to produce great work for our clients.
We know that an investment in our employees is an investment in growing our capabilities as a business. It benefits us all—employees, Search Influence, and the clients we serve. That’s why we’re excited to share with the world what we’ve been working on.
Read on for a discussion with Angie Scott, COO of Search Influence and my co-founder in all things since around 2002, on how all of this came about. A detailed explanation of what we changed and what you can expect from our team moving forward will follow the Q&A below, so read to the end!
Will: So Angie, why after 11 years a shift in pay and benefits? Isn’t this a big change?
Angie: The idea of checking in on our compensation isn’t really a new thing.
We did a pay analysis a couple of years ago and there was another done prior to that. So the team who’s been with us throughout all of those has seen this happen before. As the New Orleans tech community grows, we have to be agile in our approach to comp. This time, though, we wanted to be more transparent with the team on the process and decisions that were made.
This analysis also resulted in some broader, more sweeping changes than our analyses did in prior years. And, we touched more perks and benefits than just base compensation, too.
It was clear to us (and the market was reinforcing) that comp is not just about the salary you make for the job you do. Compensation can and should be a total package including base pay, monetary benefits like 401k and health insurance, as well as perks and flexibility.
Will: So you’re saying it’s not a new thing. That, in fact, we’ve gone through and looked at pay and benefits before, and in each case come back with what seems to be better opportunities for the team that stays with us, right?
Will: So tell me a bit about the process which got us here?
Angie: We made a game plan, which included a survey by a third-party HR consultant, reaching out to our talent competitors throughout New Orleans, including tech companies, marketing companies, a bunch of different industries around New Orleans. The goal was to figure out what their pay structures look like and try to compare them to our team.
That wasn’t as fruitful as we had hoped, but it still helped us frame some of our perks discussions. And then we looked at PayScale.com which provides employee reported compensation, and we looked at Salary.com for employer reported pay structure.
Will: So what are some of the things that changed in this analysis? As you already said, what started with just pay turned into a pretty big review of comp and perks overall, right?
Angie: Right. In addition to base compensation, we also analyzed our paid time off, health insurance that the company covers, and working remotely. We reviewed our core hours to see if we could change so that we could allow for more flexibility for the team. And we looked at doing a transportation stipend.
Will: So we got the information we could from New Orleans companies, which wasn’t much. We got aggregated information from these big websites. And in the process, some of our team reached out to friends and family who were in markets that might be more advanced in the employment market, including New York and some on the West Coast, to see what some of perks they have access to involved. What came back from that was actually this idea of core hours.
When we started the process, we weren’t even thinking about core hours, were we? It was about “summer Fridays,” which was kind of a hot button for some folks. But then, we live in New Orleans, we’ve got summer, pretty much, year round. So we decided instead to create what we’re calling “core hours” where our team can decide the length of their day as long as their day includes being in office during those times that we specify as must-haves.
Our new core hours are:
Monday through Thursday: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Friday: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Now, this is not to say that they only have to come to work six hours a day. If they want to work 2 10-hour days and take a half day off on Friday, then they can do that.
Angie: Right! Because our core hours on Friday are 9 – noon.
Will: We were hopeful that the team will balance out with different people having different desired times off, and we’ll keep an eye on it. It seems like a great way to accommodate the desire for more control over time off and to be really flexible.
There was something else, too. We’ve gotten, historically, a lot of requests for working remotely. So why don’t we set the stage for that?
Angie: We decided that the team could work from wherever they want two days per month, as long as they have internet access. So anybody on the team, after you’ve worked with us for six months, can go and work from a coffee shop, or from your house, or from a friend’s house, whatever it is.
Will: This is one of those which was interesting to us because we’ve always been very accommodating with people that have a special need to be somewhere else. The feedback we got was that some employees felt like they were taking advantage when they asked for a slightly different treatment. This way, we can accommodate the desire or need to work remotely and employees don’t feel like they’re asking for special treatment or getting away with something.
Angie: Two of the biggest perks that we’ve heard the most excitement around were actually paid time off getting increased (we went up quite a few days for each tier, based on how long you’ve been with the company), and the transportation stipend.
Will: Oh, and Lundi Gras.
Angie: Lundi Gras, that’s right.
Will: Such a challenge.
Angie: I knew there was something else.
Will: Yeah, a challenge that our non-New Orleans colleagues might not be aware of is that Mardi Gras is not just a holiday. The entire city shuts down for Mardi Gras. And in the weeks leading up to it, there are parades many evenings. And Lundi Gras, Lundi being French for Monday, is the day immediately prior to Mardi Gras day, the culmination of a big party leading into the observance of Lent. And many of our team members didn’t understand why they had to work while their other, local friends had Lundi Gras off.
In the past, we believed that we needed to be available to our clients since we have customers all over the United States, and, throughout the North American continent.
But still, it was a pain point for our team. We’re hopeful that in support of a great team dynamic, and hopefully the kind of work that they’re looking to us to provide, that our clients will understand why on one Monday and Tuesday in February or March, our team is not there.
Will: So, Angie, what’s your favorite of the perks?
Angie: Hmm… my favorite is the core hours, because they’ll allow the whole team to have more flexibility. When I think of people who are like me, I think of our working moms. I hope the new core hours will enable them to pull a couple of longer days, and then go pick up the kids early from daycare or school. I’m proud that we can offer them the opportunity to be more flexible with their hours so that they can be there for their team at work but also be there for their family at home.
Will: I think that’s a great one. The idea that as long as you’re getting your work done, you can do it on your time is the most important thing. And I’m glad that through the inclusion of core hours, and the remote work benefit, that we are going to start living this belief as well.
Angie: So what’s your favorite perk?
Will: It’s a tough one. Honestly, my favorite perk is the transportation stipend. Because we’re in a downtown location, and I know that transportation costs have been a challenge for some folks. But the real reason why I like this one is that we didn’t just say, “We’re gonna cover parking.” We said, “It’s for whatever transportation looks like for you.”
Because we’re in New Orleans, it’s a great environment to ride bikes, and we’ve got public transportation. The way that we’re doing it is through a stipend. We don’t need to see receipts. It’s not a reimbursement, but it is specifically for transportation. And therefore, if your version of transportation is two new tires for your bike and a couple of Po-Boys, then you can do that and nobody’s going to give you a hard time about it. So that’s my favorite. Do you have any last thoughts, Angie, on these changes we’ve made?
Angie: I’m really excited to see how it plays out with the team, and to actually get all of the perks into action so that we can have a lot of happy faces around the office.
Will: Yeah, I’m with you. I think that the key here, and you’ll see this in greater detail when you read the actual, outline of the new philosophy, is that we want to be able to expect the best of our team. We want to work like professionals, with professionals, in the kind of professional environment which I think is becoming more the norm in other parts of the country, but to which New Orleans has not yet caught up. I’m hopeful that with these changes, prospective employees and our current team members, will see Search Influence as a very progressive employer when it comes to pay, benefits, paid time off, and the ability to work hard, do great work, and also have a life and take advantage of all of the great things that the New Orleans area has to offer.
Search Influence Compensation Philosophy
The Search Influence Compensation Strategy is designed to:
…compete for the best talent
Our employees are our greatest investment and we’re selective about whom we hire. We will conduct regular market analyses and make adjustments to compete for the best talent in the most relevant labor market(s).
…live our core values every day
To enable employees to “live CHARGED” at every level, we offer a progressive total compensation strategy including abundant benefits and flexible perks that support a healthy balance and encourage productivity and creativity.
…incent individual & team contribution & retain talent
We encourage dedication by rewarding individuals who contribute above and beyond their job descriptions, deliver excellent client results, and support colleagues in their pursuit to do the same.
…expect excellence from our team
We won’t settle for less than excellence for our clients or in our employees’ work.
Outline of Perks
- Monthly transportation stipend for each employee
- No need for reimbursements or submitting receipts
- Total of 10 paid company holidays annually
- Including the addition of Lundi Gras beginning in 2018
- Generous and progressive Paid Time Off accrual rates, for employees to use as they choose whether sick or vacation (no doctors’ notes needed!)
- Employees with the company less than 2 years = 15 days annually
- Employees with the company 2 – 5 years = 20 days annually
- Employees with the company 5+ years = 25 days annually
- Remote work opportunities
- Employees with the company for 6+ months are allowed 2 remote working days per month, no questions asked
- Core hours and flex time allowing employees to design their own work week around 24 core in-office hours
- Core hours:
- Monday through Thursday: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Friday: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
- Core hours:
In addition to other benefits, which include:
- Benefit-rich health insurance plan
- Voluntary Dental, Vision, Life Insurance and Short Term Disability
- Employer-Matched 401(k)
- Team Building events and activities
- Paid maternity and paternity leave