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Product Heroes: Q&A with Andrea Morales, Sr. Director of Total Rewards at Amyris

Editor’s note: Here at Payscale, we believe that when organizations and their employees understand the right pay for every position and can effectively communicate about compensation, both parties thrive. That’s why we make software that helps organizations and their employees develop a shared understanding around compensation.  Our Product Heroes blog series shines a light on the people who are using PayScale products to make compensation decisions and the people who are building these products.

Tell us about your role and what you are responsible for at your organization

I am Andrea Morales, Senior Director of Total Rewards & HRIS at Amyris. Amyris was originally funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a life-saving treatment for malaria. It’s since expanded into an integrated renewable products company that delivers products across a number of markets.

I am responsible for rewards, including compensation, benefits, employee events, etc. I have two employees who report to me.

What made you consider PayScale initially? What pain points did you have?

Our tools didn’t meet our need for salary decisions to be iterative and transparent. In the state of California, when a job applicant asks about the salary range for the position they’re applying to, the employer is legally required to disclose the compensation structure for the position.

If we have to share this information with external candidates, it means we cannot leave our existing employees in the dark in terms of how we determine their compensation. We wanted to be proactive and lead the pay conversation with employees.

Prior to getting PayScale, we managed compensation using spreadsheets, along with a fairly cumbersome tool that required a rules-based-code driven approach. This process left a lot of room for error. There wasn’t much wiggle room for customization, notes, feedback and iterations.

I consider compensation — the whole process of making budget decisions and salary decisions — to be an ongoing process. We needed tools that allow us to be iterative.

Compensation - the whole process of making budget decisions and salary decisions - should be to be an ongoing process.Click To Tweet

Another problem was the lack of visibility into compensation created a disconnect between what HR was recommending and what managers were communicating to employees. I wanted a tool that would help managers and HR get on the same page about pay decisions, so that managers can have those key compensation conversations with employees. It was very important for our employees to see that our organization is transparent; they want to understand how compensation decisions are made.

These problems were considered to be large enough that our CHRO actually asked us to look for a new solution.

What PayScale product(s) do you use?

I use InsightLab and Team.

What are your favorite features? What’s the impact?

In Insight Lab, we really like that PayScale allows us to use any data sources we want to price our jobs accurately. The team can now use Radford’s life sciences data in tandem with other surveys, so that we can price all of our jobs using more data sources. Originally, I was thinking “we need to cut our Radford data altogether because it’s not all that usable. But with Lab’s robust survey management functionality, it’s so easy to blend multiple surveys, which gives me more confidence that jobs are priced appropriately.

I like the ability to build Competitive Sets in Lab. As we grow and add new job families, I can set up a competitive set for every job family. When I update a parameter, such as the size of organizations we’re comparing in the competitive set, all the jobs in the job family are instantly updated. Lab replaces so many spreadsheets. I don’t have to deal with dead formulas or try to understand circular references. It saves my team hours of Excel work.

Using Team has completely transformed our compensation process. At Amyris, we want all managers to be involved in the compensation process. We want to every manager to allocate increases to their employees. If they participate in how pay decisions are made, they’re invested in the comp plan, and they’ll be able to communicate effectively to employees.

We now have 100 percent of our managers using Team. They love that they can see all of their employee information on one page, who’s trailing, who is leading, who is at the top of their pay band – it’s a complete game changer. It’s helpful for managers to see the range penetration of each employee. Managers can manipulate the data on their own, do things on the fly.

You’ve been beta testing our new Job Collaboration feature, what do you think of it so far?

Our managers really like Job Collaboration. It appeals to our workforce, many of which are scientists. They’re interested in data, they like to be able to provide their input. This tool allows managers to participate in the process of job pricing. This creates transparency and accountability throughout the organization.

What do you look for in HR Tech products?

There are three elements I look for. First, it’s about the product experience. Is it easy to implement and use?  I have a small team and we have a lot more to do than just compensation, so I want tools that help us save time. Also, If I need something new from this tool, can I get it right away without spending more money?

Second, I want to work with companies that care about innovation. We’re okay with using tools that aren’t perfect, as long as they improve over time.

Third, it’s about the relationship. I want it to be easy to get support. For example, with PayScale, I have a dedicated customer success manager. I can go to specific people if I have a question or need help, instead of calling a generic 1800 number.

To learn more about how HR and comp professionals are bringing pay forward with PayScale’s modern compensation software, check out these customer case studies.

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