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How We’re Ensuring a Fair Pay and Progression Across Our Team

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Great Place to Work’s survey of over 400,000 workers found that when people believe the company manages promotions effectively, they’re more than 2X as likely to give extra effort at work and to plan a long-term future with their company. 

Here’s the thing, though: the recruitment industry has historically based promotions solely on the financial performance

Progression shouldn’t focus only on financial KPIs

This old-school system means that when someone has missed their target by a mere £500, they had to wait ANOTHER 6 months to hit their promotion. We found that we’re missing a trick with our promotions and progressions policies.

It completely dismisses the hard work and dedication this person put into the company. It’s demotivating and frustrating for the employee. After all, promotions are highly personal - they can damage our sense of self and our wellbeing.

Here are other problems we found with the progression that focuses only on the financial KPIs:

  1. The employees end up missing out on well-deserved promotions based on the circumstances that weren’t their fault. 
  2. People aren’t aware of the specific skills they need to develop or show to follow these targets. 
  3. Just because someone is strong as an individual contributor doesn’t mean that they’re ready to become a manager (also known as The Peter Principle). 
  4. When promotions aren’t managed well, one person’s success can create feelings of resentment in others (source). 
  5. Few&Far is all about the quality of the service towards our clients and candidates, and financial KPIs don’t necessarily reflect that.  

What is Progression Growth Framework?

We wanted to make sure that we’re promoting people for being people. So we included behaviours into our progression targets. We call it PGF = Progression Growth Framework. 

Our performance reviews not only feature numbers but also self-development and behaviours based on our values. This means that if an employee was close to hitting their targets but showcased all the right behaviours and attitudes, they’re still deserving of a promotion. 

For non-sales roles across the company, we also include leadership & ownership qualities and behaviours, besides quarterly and performance-based targets.

We want everyone across the business to have equal opportunities for progression and promotion.

How does it work? 

Each of our team members has their own Progression Growth Framework on Notion. They can note on each scorecard examples of how they think they achieved their behaviour targets. They then review these with their manager at the end of every quarter. 

“If a company lacks clear standards for pay and promotion, it’s harder for employees to know what they need to do to progress, or to realise when they are being undervalued.”

Two key policies support our Progression Growth Framework to ensure fair pay: 

  • Pay transparency

We understand our team will only be happy if they know they’re being paid fairly. So we transparently communicate targets and salaries for each level on both management and non-management career routes. That way, the higher pay doesn’t go to those who ask for it or are friends with their supervisor, but those who deserve it (source). 

  • Eliminating negotiation 

We never want to pay less than the position is actually worth. According to research, men were found to start negotiations 4X as often as women. Because of this, we actively seek to eliminate the gender pay gap and encourage a much more diverse workforce. That’s why we assigned a non-negotiable salary to each position - no matter where in the UK they’re based. 

What does it include?

We integrated our values and behaviours that are important to us. We broke it into four core pillars: 

  1. Mastery - you’re mastering your role and behaviours that relate to it
  2. Leadership - you’re showing leadership qualities, regardless if you’re a leader or not
  3. Enterprising - you’re showing initiative and resourcefulness; thinking outside the box
  4. Influence ‍ - you’re an excellent influence on your peers, clients and candidates

We use this system not only for quarterly reviews but also in our hiring process and probation reviews. When hiring, we base pay decisions on the individual’s skills and experience, not their previous salary. If we’re unsure about someone’s level, we can always check if they ticked enough boxes for a position. 

Implementing this kind of standardised, formal criteria around performance and reward that employees understand has been proven to reduce the gender pay gap

Our results so far

We rolled out Progression Growth Framework in early 2021. It’s been crucial when giving feedback - particularly to motivate employees who have been a tremendous asset to the business, despite not fully hitting their financial targets. 

Our new joiners found it especially useful because they know exactly what’s expected from them, what we value and how they can progress. 

However, this framework will never be set in stone - it’s something we’re constantly going to track, review and edit. 

Managers and HR teams need to understand that some organisation processes for progression open up space for bias and that way, disadvantage women and minorities. 

Research shows that transparency and formalisation are successful in reducing gender bias.

To quote Rohman et al (2018): “Promotions are about people. When leaders take a caring and coaching-oriented approach, every promotion can feel like a shared win”. And that’s exactly what we’ll always strive for at Few&Far. 

 

Authors

Ashleigh Hamilton, Head of People at Few&Far

Marta Zemljic, Marketing Executive at Few&Far

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