Compference16 Recap: Communicating Comp, Transparency, and a Stranger Things Joke


Hi, my name is Ashley, and I’m an HR conference junkie.

I love HR conferences, maybe a little too much. I love being around ‘my people’ nerding out on compensation and proudly letting my comp flag fly. Who doesn’t love getting a little weird on free wine with other like-minded nerds who get more impassioned about range penetration & compa-ratio’s with each glass of chardonnay?

'I love being around ‘my people’ nerding out on compensation and proudly letting my comp flag fly.'Click To Tweet

The biggest takeaway for me was the topic of communicating comp. It came up multiple times over the two days and I enjoyed hearing the ‘why’ in sessions, but also how other PayScale/Marketpay customers were executing their communication plans. My favorite part of conferences are the in-between times. Not the scary in-between from Stranger Things, I mean the moments in between sessions and right before one is about to start. When you strike up a conversation that usually begins with one person asking for a charger, (which let’s talk about the awesome swag for a second – thanks for the thoughtful charger battery!). Those in-between times are when magic happens. I struck up a conversation about training managers on compensation with another attendee, which is on the forefront of my mind since I head up our L&D function at PayScale and will be taking on that task myself. Those between times tend to be more real and dressed down than the responses to ‘any questions?’ at the end of sessions. We started talking about the importance of training managers on how to have smart comp conversations.  My new friend expressed her insecurities about taking the stand with her executive team on the importance of this initiative. In the few brief minutes we had, we both decided while it was scary to take a stand, the payoff is undeniable.

And why not? As PayScale CEO Mike Metzger mentioned in his keynote, communicating compensation costs you nothing but time and the ROI on a transparent conversation is undeniable. This became even more clear when I listened to the session by the charismatic CEO of Chewse, Tracy Lawrence, as she shared about the success her fully transparent company has had (71% of Chewse employees think their pay is fair compared to the typical 36%) and learned what the heck a ‘love’ company was. Turns out, it’s really cool, their motto is ‘bring your heart to work’ (and yes they are hiring!).

Now that I’m back at the office and my emails are still stacked up because I’m avoiding them, I keep thinking about all the great ideas I plan to share back at home base to move the needle. I am reminded of our customer Jeracah Lawless from HPM Building Supply.  She was a pilot PayScale Crew product customer and in her session she discussed how she was tempted to put comp on the backburner to re-write her job descriptions because they were out of date, but realized that she shouldn’t ‘let perfection become the enemy of good’. Not only was that inspiring to hear because 1. Somehow JDs are always out of date 2. I’d rather try something new, I already know what happens when I update JDs: I drink too much and I’m grumpy.

Why wait? Why not try something new? Maybe it will be better conversations around comp with employees. Maybe you will launch some manager training on how to have those conversations? Or maybe you will be like the customer I spoke to on break, who plans to march into his CFOs office with-dare I say-a merit increase pool that ISN’T 3%? Get out. Rather, get out there and go for it, comp brothers and sisters!

Because that client left the Seattle Sheraton the same way I left feeling: COMPfident.


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  1. 1
    Louise Penberthy

    Ashley, you’re a good writer — this sounds just like you!

    And the best conferences I’ve been to are those that make it easy for attendees to strike up conversations with each other.

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