How Kanopi Studios created a compensation strategy to support growth and equity with Payscale
Situation & Challenge
Kanopi Studios is a web design and development agency that’s anything but average. Since its inception, this female-founded, female-led firm has been committed to helping nonprofit organizations, higher education clients, and companies with a mission to amplify their brands online.
It’s also a company that is committed to equity and employee quality-of-life, as evidenced by a 100 percent remote-work model that’s been in place since 2013, a diverse, inclusive workforce, and retention rates consistently topping national averages.
Until recently, Kanopi Studios’ compensation management was a fragmented process. Salary information was pulled from various, disparate sources, then compiled into spreadsheets for analysis and review. This process worked well at first—but once they reached 64 employees across 27 locations in the U.S. and Canada and launched a five-year plan to double in size, Kanopi’s leaders knew they needed a more strategic approach.
At the same time, the post-pandemic market shift to remote and hybrid models diluted what used to be one of the company’s core differentiators. To continue to attract and retain talent, and to stay profitable, Kanopi leaders had to develop a comprehensive compensation strategy that kept the company competitive from a hiring perspective, but that was also in line with what it could sustainably afford to spend.
It was a big job, and one that required the right data and a partner with proven expertise to guide them through the process. After researching the options, Kanopi chose Payscale.Download a pdf of this case study
With Payscale, we not only had access to a robust source of comprehensive data, but also to co-pilots who could guide us through the compensation strategy process and help us build out our strategy from the ground up. I felt fully confident that this was going to be the right solution for us from day one.”
-Erin Linkins, Director of Human Resources
According to Erin Linkins, Kanopi’s Director of Human Resources, it’s not only the quality and timeliness of Payscale data that sets it apart, but how that data aligns with specific roles in Kanopi Studios’ market.
“If I looked up the salary range for a developer in another tool, that range wouldn’t be specific to a marketing agency like ours. It would cover developers across every type of industry,” Linkins explains. “With Payscale, we can actually align with realistic datasets for our industry, and fully utilize this information in developing our compensation strategy.”
As with most smaller companies, Kanopi doesn’t have a massive HR and compensation team in place. So getting expert support to not only get up and running but to fully utilize all of the tool’s benefits was critical.
“Our Payscale analyst was so knowledgeable and helped us apply what Payscale offers to our specific needs,” Linkins says. For example, Kanopi recruits employees from all over the U.S. and Canada. That means they need geographic differentiators for candidates coming from major cities where compensation falls above the national average so they could realistically assess if their salary needs aligning with Kanopi’s pay bands or not.
Their Payscale analyst laid out a tool that enabled Linkins to easily identify if a job applicant is located in a geographic differentiator, and, if so, to then quickly calculate the market differential.
“Since I’m the first set of eyes on all the applicants that come into Kanopi, it’s a tool I use almost every day,” Linkins says. “From an ease-of-vetting perspective, it’s been a game changer for us.”Download a pdf of this case study
Where Payscale makes an impact
In addition to setting up a formalized compensation strategy, Kanopi is utilizing Payscale to build out its career pathing strategy to proactively guide its employees’ professional growth. This process begins when an employee reaches the 75th percentile of pay for their role. The Kanopi team starts looking at what needs to be done to get them into their next role, and Payscale helps them layer pay bands with the growth paths set up for each department so that each natural progression makes sense.
Just as importantly, Linkins utilizes Payscale data to ensure all current employees are being paid fairly and equitably. She uses it to look at who on staff might be lagging behind the pay bands previously set for that role and bump them up. It helps them to ensure that employees across positions are all being paid in line with the rest of their colleagues. It’s all part of Kanopi’s commitment to stay true to its employee-first culture, no matter how big the company grows to be.
“With Payscale’s help, we’ve been able to operationalize our vision for a data-driven, equitable salary model for our staff,” Linkins says. “It shows our employees that we care about them, and that we take their compensation and retention seriously. A lot of companies say it, but here, our employees really do come first.”Download a pdf of this case study
If you talk about inclusivity and equity, you have to pay attention to them as they relate to salary equity.”
-Erin Linkins, Director of Human Resources
If you don’t have a formalized compensation strategy, it’s hard to promote equitable hiring and retention practices.”
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