Originally funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a life-saving treatment for malaria, Amyris has since expanded into an integrated renewable products company that enables the world’s leading brands to achieve sustainable growth.
From day one, Amyris has nurtured a culture that is innovative, committed to change, and transparent. “We’re a company full of geeks and nerds,”said Andrea Morales, Director, Total Rewards & HRIS at Amyris. “We have a ton of highly educated, Millennial scientists who are the best in their field.”
Yet Amyris HR department was anything but innovative. The company still managed compensation using spreadsheets coupled with a popular yet, in Morales’ words, “cumbersome” platform that required a rules-based, code-driven approach.
“Our previous process left a lot of room for error. There wasn’t much wiggle room for customization, notes, feedback, iterations. I consider compensation, the entire year-end process from salary decisioning and budget decisioning, to be an iterative process. And most of the tools on the market are not iterative. They’re static.”
A lack of visibility into compensation also created a disconnect between what HR was recommending and what managers were communicating to employees—the kind of opaque decision making loathed by Millennial employees. “People would make changes to a recommended bonus amount, but the manager couldn’t see the changes that were made,” said Morales. “Without that information, managers also couldn’t have those key compensation conversations with employees.”
Driven by a request from the CEO to “bring innovation to HR,” Morales and her team conducted a search for a new compensation solution—and discovered PayScale. “One of the reasons I left my previous role is that I wanted to go somewhere where there was a great culture and bring great HR strategies to that culture to make it complete. PayScale’s tools are nimble, constantly evolving, and driving the direction of the market.”
Amyris implemented PayScale not only for the opportunity to streamline compensation management and increase transparency but also to enable the use of any data source—and thereby increase the ability to compensate correctly in a competitive market. “I think PayScale made the right move on being data agnostic,” said Morales. “There are so many traditional survey sets, but PayScale gives us a tool that says, ‘We don’t care what data you have, we’ll let you do whatever you want with it in this tool.’ With PayScale, we can bring all our data sources together and that’s huge.”
With Lab’s Merit Matrix feature, Morales was able to eliminate recreating the same information manually in spreadsheets. “The way you can do it on the fly in Insight Lab, find the group and have the data lead you to the groups you need to tweak…PayScale is doing all that grunt work behind the scenes for me. I don’t have to worry about formulas and pivot tables, and I can make faster, more strategic decisions.”
With PayScale, the team can now use Radford’s life sciences data in tandem with other surveys, for a total of five different sets of data at once. “PayScale has made our Radford data usable,” said Morales. “We were going to cut the Radford data altogether, but with Lab’s robust survey management functionality, I now want to go shopping for more surveys! Lab makes it so easy to blend multiple surveys and price jobs more accurately.”
Previously, Amyris’ spreadsheet compensation process delivered little to no real-time visibility into pay bands. “With Team, we can see everything in real time as we move through the process,” said Morales. “For managers to be able to see their employees on one page, who is trailing, who is leading, who is at the top of their pay band—it’s a complete game changer.”
Amyris employees now understand how much support they’re getting from the company, including paid benefits, paid time off, and free snacks. “Employees see that we feed them lunch three times a week, offer unlimited snacks, and have Friday happy hour, but they don’t always equate those benefits to a dollar sign,” said Morales. “With PayScale, they now understand every facet of what they are paid. They know we’re taking care of them and view Amyris as a place to stay.”
Morales firmly believes that compensation is ever-evolving, and those who don’t change won’t remain competitive. “A lot of companies are guilty of, ‘Well we’ve always done it this way.’ That is the worst answer. If you keep doing it the same way but your company demographic changes to include more Millennials, you’re going to struggle to keep up—and eventually be left behind. If people aren’t using tools like PayScale to get their comp into the 21st century, they’re not going to be prepared for what’s coming.”