Welcome back to the RecruitingDaily Podcast! Today, we’ve asked Tanya Jansen of beqom to talk us through using compensation incentives to create equitable business practices. This is a great conversation! We invite you to listen to the full show.
Tanya is CMO and co-founder of beqom, where she speaks with HR professionals, CHROs and compensation and benefits professionals. Her goal is to understand their reward strategies and challenges in order to help them best leverage technology to solve problems.
beqom is a total compensation management software solution focused exclusively on managing compensation and performance for HR and sales. Their mantra is “happiness is the best driver for success,” for which they own the mission to make the workforce of their customers happy. beqom operates by allowing business managers to lead, align and motivate employees and partners. Currently, over 100 large companies use the platform to address all key drivers towards employee and sales performance.
A few things we cover today: How have incentives changed with remote work? What are customers exploring programmatically to achieve their goals? Most importantly, where do we begin with compensation incentives in order to create a more equitable workplace?
There’s more, of course! You have to listen to learn. Make sure to drop your thoughts in the comments.
Listening Time: 32 minutes
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Making the link between you and beqom's platform is at the heart of Tanya Jansen's day to day activities. Her role is to communicate what beqom can do for you and how beqom can best address your needs to help you make your people happy. Coming from SAP, Tanya spent the last 10 years defining and communicating enterprise solutions to large companies worldwide.Follow Follow
This is RecruitingDaily’s Recruiting Live podcast where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week, we take one overcomplicate topic and break it down so that your three-year-old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today we have Tanya from beqom, and that’s actually spelled B-E-Q-O-M just for those that would like to look Tanya up and her company up. The topic for today is using compensation incentives to create equitable business practices, so how do we use comp and how do we use incentives to actually get to the things that we all want to get to. So, we’ll first start with, Tanya, if you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and also introduce your company, beqom.
Sure. Hello. Hello William. Hello everyone. My name is Tanya Jansen, and I’m the co-founder of beqom. beqom provides a cloud-based solution to manage end-to-end rewards. So, all of the aspects companies need in order to pay, incentivize, drive behavior, as William just mentioned, of their employees. And hopefully, align that to the objectives that they’re trying to achieve as organizations.
Now, I spend most of my time speaking with HR professionals, CHROs, [inaudible 00:01:46] professionals in order to better understand their reward strategy, challenges they face, and help them to understand how to best leverage technology in order to solve those challenges. So, thanks a lot. Very happy to be
And happy for you to be here. Obviously, we’ll get into the topic just a second. But obviously, just over the last two years, I’m assuming, of course. But in your conversations with your clients, prospects, and leaders that you deal with, I’m assuming that incentives have changed in some ways because of remote work.
Yeah. When the pandemic started, I reached out to a couple of our clients in order to understand what they were thinking, the challenges that they were facing. And of course, one of the biggest I think for everyone was the fear of the unknown and not-
… not knowing what was-
We still have, technically.
Yeah, yeah. Some are managing it in different ways at this point. But of course. The immediate impact, of course, that incentives had on the fear of unknown. So, most of them were faced with having to make changes and having to make changes very quickly in order to conserve cash or just brace for best, middle, worst case scenarios that they had modeled out for their business. And so, their biggest issue was not knowing what’s going to happen, how do I put incentive plans in place that I’ll have to change over the next week, over the next couple of weeks? And on the other side of it was some CHROs and rewards managers had mandates to completely cut cash and spend on bonus. So, that aspect, they had to completely remove the whole concept of incentivizing, and then trying to mitigate the impact that that had on their work staff.
Really, really interesting conversation, nonetheless, in terms of compensation and how to use that as a driver in various situations.
It’s never static. Right? I mean, even with COVID… Not COVID, et cetera, when we look at total rewards in general, and incentives being a part of that, obviously, we’re trying to get people to do something. We’re trying to reward them for something, whether or not it’s behavior or an outcome, et cetera.
There’s a reason. There’s a reason we put time, money, and energy into creating incentives, because we want to model behaviors. We want to model outcomes. We want things to happen in a certain way. So, I mean, the thing is, it’s not altruism. And I guess it can be for some companies that are values are written that way or lived that way. That’s fine. But by and large, most companies use incentives and awards in a way to then reinforce the things that they want.
Which is why I love the topic we’re talking about today, because you’re looking at the outcome of, okay, well, how do we actually get to more of an equitable business outcome? How do we do that? And in particular, how do we use comp, benefits, incentives, perks, et cetera? How do we use these levers to create the outcomes we want? So, why don’t we start with the basics? What are you starting to see your customers explore with programmatically to help them get to the goals that they want to get to?
Yeah, so I’ve certainly seen this topic evolve over time. But the first time it came up was I was in a meeting years ago, and, and the sales guy was glaring at me across the table saying, “You cannot talk about gender, gender pay, and equitable pay and diverse pay in this conversation.” And from there, over the last two years, it has changed significantly in the sense that from what was never a topic that came up, it’s now coming up in absolutely every single conversation that we have. And first and foremost, there’s a lot of things that are driving this discussion. There’s two very different… There’s the social side of it and in the compliance side, which are really at opposite ends of the spectrum.
But that being aside, the main thing that people want to talk about is what do I do?
They understand that they have to do something about it, whether it’s society saying it, their employees, or the government saying it. They want to do it, they recognize it, but so many really don’t know where to start.
Right. And it’s interesting because, again, we’ve known that this problem has existed for, well, since the beginning of time. Right? So, it’s not like a new problem. There’s been pay equity, there’s been gender equity, and diversity and equity issues at work since work began. Okay, great. Stated and covered.
It does seem because of MeToo and Love is Love and Black Lives Matter that societally that we’ve actually… now there’s more pressure with the SEC coming out more recently and mandating publicly traded companies divulge people analytics, especially DNI analytics. That’s going to put pressure on publicly traded companies, which is great. And I think employees and candidates. I mean, I think now there’s more of a voice employees and candidates to say, “Yeah, I don’t want to exist in a company that doesn’t do the right thing.”
And there’s always been people in HR and recruiting that have wanted to do this. And I think you’ve nailed it. It’s like, okay, we all want the same thing, by and large. There’s always going to be some neophytes out there. But by and large, we all want the same thing, a more equitable workplace and workforce. Okay. Now how do we get started?
I have this idea in my mind that maybe pay transparency annual reports is one way to start. I saw this in diversity and inclusion a couple years ago where leaders would just basically say, “Well, we’re going to just disclose. And we’re just going to start with here’s all the bad stuff. It’s not like you didn’t know that 90% of your leaders are male. Okay. Now you know. All right. Fair enough. There it is. And it’s ugly, and we get it, and now we’re going to work at it because quarterly and annually we’re going to update you on where we are, where we’re going and, and how we fix things.”
So, first of all, when you get asked, because you get asked a heck of a lot more than I would, where do we start, what’s your go-to? What do you typical tell people like, “Okay, we’ve got five things we can start with. They’re all pretty basic, but let’s start there.”
Yeah. And I’m going to answer that question in a second. But to follow up on what you were just saying. So, you have all these mandates coming out that are linked to reporting and transparency and quotas, basically, especially with the recent SEC.
And you’ve had this in other countries. You’ve had this mandated for quite a while. And my opinion was not always popular, but I always felt like that was a Band-Aid. It was, okay. Oh shit. We need some more diversity. We got to find some people and stick them on our board, that kind of a reaction and [crosstalk 00:10:22].
It’s not because they want to, it’s because they have to. Yeah.
Yeah, there’s not like a moral obligation. It’s just like there’s a gun to our head. Oh, by the way, we have to be diverse. Yeah.
Yeah. And that always being, I guess, a minority, being a female in an executive role, I always like, well, that’s a bit disturbing. You want to make sure that you really find the right person for the job. And I want to know that I’m here because I was the right person and not because I was there to fit some quota.
So, a start as a start. So, that’s always a good way to have visibility. So, when the conversation comes up and it’s asking where do I start? First, it’s about educating and explaining it’s not just about saying, “Well, I hire X percent more males. I have X percent more on my board.” It’s really understanding it all comes down to data. And of course, I’m in software, so I like the data. It’s how are you bringing in all of these elements and attributes that you need to link to an employee or a group of individuals and use that to have a fair point of analysis.
And from my perspective and from our client’s perspective is that that’s where they initially have trouble is getting the data, consolidating the data, and using it to make better decisions. And then once they have that, using that to drive policy changes not just at the quota level, but at the how do I make sure I’m attracting a diverse group of individuals into my company in the first place? And in the end, that’s really where the problem lies.
Right. Well, you’re touching on something that’s been a great topic in recruiting and talent acquisition is in job descriptions, both being more articulate about what the actual jobs and skills are needed and how we’ll foster development, et cetera, but making comp transparent. I think one of many mistakes that we’ve made in recruiting has been when we look at an $180,000 job, and a candidate comes in at a request for $140,000, we look at that, and historically we’ve looked at that as a $40,000 bonus to the company.
And the problem with that mentality is that creates a $40,000 deficit and an inequitable situation for that person, which has generally been minorities and women. At least historically it’s been that way. And I think, again, if it’s $180,000 job, it’s $180,000 job.
Stating that and making that like, hey, listen, we don’t have to negotiate. This is what we pay. This is the job is. And again, we’re not going to create an inequitable situation.
And that’s a lot of what we’re trying to accomplish with the tools that we give to our clients, and teaching them to, to take this bias out of the decision making process. So, the whole idea is I have my inputs and I have an output. And that output is exactly what you said, it’s a number. And that number is there because of a lot of different factors, but that’s the fair number. Everyone else is having exactly the same treatment.
So, it’s about having that transparency on the organization level and the global level, but also being able to market that to your employees saying, “Listen, we automate this. We remove any gender bias so that you know we’re paying you fairly for the job you’re doing and the background you have compared to your peers.” And that has a huge value to employees’ sense of belonging in their organization much more than a pay raise or a negotiation for a higher pay package.
So, I want to get your take. And again, please call me if… I would hope that you would already, but if not, please call me if you think that I’m completely whackadoodle or crazy. A few months ago, I wrote an article for Indeed about getting rid of location-based pay. And the reason for that from my mindset was that’s where some of the pay inequities exist wrapped up or guised in Sally works in Topeka, Bill works in New York.
Again, it’s $180,000 job. But because we’ve historically said, “Well, Topeka, the cost of living is this, and so we’re going to pay that person less. In Manhattan, the cost of living is this. We’re going to pay Bill more.” They’re doing the same job. At the end of the day, the value of the job is the same to the company.
So, I’ve looked at it, at least, again, more recent than not, I’ve looked at it and said, “It’s a $180,000 job. I don’t care where you live. You can live in Istanbul. It doesn’t really matter.” The point is, is are you doing that job? Does the company view that job as $180,000 worth of value. Where you choose to live is, is a personal choice. Now that’s not necessarily popular.
I was going to say, that’s a…
Amongst comp professionals, A.
And I can see you ruffle… My HR would be dying right now.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well, I got a lot of feedback from comp professional. I actually got a lot of feedback from Indeed itself because, again, it’s how they’re structured. It’s all based on location.
And again, a job is something in some place. A job, if you’re doing your job. Again, I’ll take something simple like a salesperson with a quota. You’ve got to create four million dollars in quarter of net new revenue. Where you do that from, again, what does that really matter? It’s four million dollars to the company. Now, again, I want you because you live this world. How do you reconcile that?
Yeah. So, that brings up a couple of different areas. One, we already talked about the concept of transparency. And employees, they want transparency. Why? Because they all talk about their comp with each other.
Hundred percent. Hundred percent. Even though we tell them not to. That’s the first thing we say, “You’re getting this bonus. Everyone else is getting a different bonus.”
“Don’t tell anyone [crosstalk 00:17:13].”
“Don’t tell anyone.”
Everyone’s knocking on your door, “Where’s my bonus?”
Right after that, right after that meeting, there’s a text that’s been sent out. Yes, of course.
And it’s complicated, because they don’t understand this aspect of cost of living and rewards or things that you have to give in addition to this cost of living depending on where the actual office is. They’re not factoring this into place. Well, to work here I have to commute because people can’t live in the city. So, already this concept of having different pay for different cities, it’s screwing up the whole transparency thing.
So, from that perspective, I like the idea of not having it play such an important factor. But on the other side where [inaudible 00:18:01,] it’s not as dynamic as necessarily it should be. Why? Because it’s based on doing things how we’ve done things before. So, this is ingrained in how benchmark data is defined, how there’s so much history behind it. And it’s a large moving boat, so it’s not ship, so it’s not turning very, very fast. Which means it’s going to be hard to change that type of thinking.
And then the other side of it is so much of those salaries and those location-based salaries are linked to in office location, and the cost of the office location, and the cost to have the employee close to it. So, as things change and reward… this pandemic is just going to accelerate the need for reward to be much more dynamic, perhaps this thought of having… not thought, the reality of having people at home working in various locations much more, that’s by nature going to drive to that philosophy of a job should be priced for the job for the value it’s bringing, regardless of where it’s done.
Right. It’ll take us a while to get there. However, again, I think that’s just how we’ve hidden inequities, to me at least. I think this is one of the ways that we’ve hidden pay inequities in the past. If we’re trying to get to a place where we are more equitable, then we’ve got to root out those historical ways that we’ve hidden these things and biases that we’ve had one way or another. Again, we’re trying to get to equitable business practices.
So, one of the things I wanted to ask you about is, again, people don’t know necessarily where to start. Okay, well, you’ve already given some great advice there. Because you deal with clients all over the spectrum. Right? Some are beginners, and they’re really just starting their journey of how to get to an equitable place. Some are a little bit more intermediate. And I would assume that you deal with some [inaudible 00:20:15] folks that are really pretty far along in this process or this journey.
If you could, tell us a couple stories of customers or even prospects or folks that you’ve interacted with where they’re doing a little bit more of the intermediate and advanced work in creating more of the equitable business processes and practices.
That’s a good question. Typically the companies that we’re talking to, they’re large global, so they have task force set up to tackle this. And I see a big difference in terms of which level they’re at based on industry.
There’s certain industries… Yes. There’s certain industries, really in particular financial services, that tend to be a much more let’s sweep it under the rug.
Well, I was going to… It’s funny that you answered that way because especially with industries. Because now my mind goes to male dominated industries and maybe a resistance.
[crosstalk 00:21:30] habits. Yeah.
Okay. All right. So, I was on the right path in my mind. Because my wife has a masters in landscape architecture. She has her own firm. And so, she deals with architects, engineers, civil engineers. And by and large, these are male dominated industries. Now because she has a woman owned business, it actually plays to her benefit because she can sub and work in a way that actually plays in a different way. However, I can see male… they want to keep things as is.
Yeah. And that was a conversation, and it was two years ago. So, maybe, again, so much has changed in two years. Maybe the philosophy changed. Because I brought up the question. I said ,”How do you look at your pay equity in your organization?” And the response was, “Oh God, we know it’s terrible.” It’s like don’t even go there. I thought, oh shit, this is going to be an uphill battle. So, I see it-
Well, you want the response on the other end to be we know it’s terrible, but we actually want to fix it.
That’s what you want.
And I really think they’re there, either, again, from society pushing it, their employees pushing it. And you already see the behavior changing. You see the thing that came out about new entry level workers being worked to death and not being paid high enough, and now the average salary has increased. So, you see this social pressure to immediately make these changes, and that’s really positive.
On the other side, I see companies in industries like oil and gas that because of the nature of what they do, they have for so many years now have had very advanced policies and practices place in order to fit not just DEI, but everything ESG across the board. So, very sophisticated incentives linked to environmental impact and accident rates and all of these things. And I think that’s where in some of those industries, that’s where I see a very sophisticated incentive plans built out and really monitored related to related to those goals.
And then I guess I don’t want to leave out the other type of industry where you have come companies that really want… And I’ve seen this from, from some retail organizations who really believe, who really champion this topic, and want to have the best image of themselves, and want to do the right thing for the environment that they just proactively, to be a good company, proactively embrace these initiatives, communicate it, implement it, and evolve with it as the dynamics change.
Do you get questions from HR leaders or the C-suite in terms of how do you know you’ve reached the goal? Well, first of all, what is the goal, A? We’ll start with, okay, what is the goal? Is it moving, is it fluid, is it static, et cetera? And how do that you’ve reached it?
It’s another good question. You don’t. Not to not to be disheartening, but it’s something… And that’s, again, important for people to understand. It’s something that is changing all of the time, and it’s not something that you just achieve. So yes, you have improvements in your metrics, your KPIs. You reach your targets. But once you get to that level there, the goals and the framework have to evolve based on that.
So, even what you put into place for one year or for two years. Once you get there, and once it’s achieved, you then have to start over and look at what you’re trying to accomplish next. So, I think there’s always targets. There’s always things you want to aim for based on the situation and where they are when they start. But it has to be constant and evolving and flexible, which is, again, not typically always the practice in reward.
Right. Which essentially it’s a relentless pursuit. Right? If done correctly, it never stops.
So, the incentive side, we talk about compensation, we talk about total comp at least, that’s salary and bonus and benefits and all the other stuff that makes into that. But the incentives that you’ve seen work. Again, we’re trying to get to an outcome, which in this case is more of an equatable business processes and practices. So, we’re trying. We know we want to get to point B and we’re at point A.
What incentives do you… what do you encourage your clients and prospects and people you talk to about trying? I mean, I would assume, and again, it’s just an assumption from me, but I would assume some of this is testing and trial and error and seeing what works with your particular workforce, et cetera. But what do you see as some of the things that, A, you recommend, and B, some of the things that you’ve seen work?
Yeah. It’s exactly about testing, and it’s going to be specific to each organization. And a lot of it, it’s going to be a mix because in some cases it’s going to be linked to local guidelines. For example, well, in a lot of countries now, they have frameworks, government issued or mandated frameworks, where you have X type of KPIs you have to include and report on, and you have a threshold in which you have to [inaudible 00:27:41] them over the period of the next couple years related to how many males you hire versus females, how diverse that environment is, how you handle promotions.
So, a lot of the compliant driven initiatives are very, very much static from that sense. So, on one side, you have to meet those local requirements. And then on the other side, you have to understand what you want to achieve as a business. Do I want to be carbon neutral in the next 10 years? And if that’s my goal, how do I do that? And how does that impact then? How does that cascade down through the organization? So, it’s pretty complex.
And in the end, you don’t know the behavior that you’re going to get until you actually try it. And it’s not always the case that the behavior is the one that you want. So, it’s really a test and learn and evolve type of approach that needs to be done.
So, this is last question before we go out. And again, this could be a little bit interesting. But can and/or should incentives be highly personalized? Meaning one of the things that I love about HR is we have standards. One of the things I hate about HR is we have standards, in the sense of that we treat everybody the exact same way.
Now, that sounds good in theory, of course, but problem is, is people are driven differently. You and I could be salespeople, sit right next to each other, have the exact same job. And I am completely motivated by money, period. Which is not true, but let’s just say that. And you’re motivated by something else. And again, it’s a can or should. Should we incentivize people just based on how they want to be incentivized?
That’s a tough question to answer because it’s so much driven by behavior of the individual. So, I mean, something that I see in my own organization. We’re not, we’re not that big. But I have a hard time with this concept of an individual objective. Why? Because I feel like people oftentimes mix incentives with salary. So, you’re hired for a job, and with that job comes at expectations to do the job. And a lot of times what I see is these individual objectives are very much linked to do your job.
So, I think it’s… And then there’s also the aspect of career and succession. So, what really motivates people? Is it the money? Is it the career opportunity, the career growth? And so, how do you find the fine line of motivating individuals to go above and beyond what their job expects of them and involve in their role without just overpaying for on top of what you’re paying for already, which is a salary?
Right. You’re trying to unlock that discretionary effort. And so, how do you do that without, again, creating equities? It’s interesting to think about. But I love this topic. I absolutely love it. Tanya, thank you so much for carving out time in your day to educate us, and just thank you for being on the RecruitingDaily podcast.
Well, thank you very much for having me, William. And always a pleasure to talk about these things, so thanks a lot.
Awesome. And until next time, thanks for everyone listening to RecruitingDaily podcast.
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William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.