Exploring location-agnostic pay with Leia Rollag
Our People Heroes series celebrates People leaders across the globe. These insights were pulled from our conversation with Leia Rollag on the New World of Work podcast.
Wildbit, the team behind Postmark, Beanstalk, DMARC Digests, and People-First Jobs, was an early adopter of a remote working environment. With team members all over the world from the U.S. to Russia, the company has plenty of experience with approaching work through an international lens. But they knew they had room to improve when it came to clarity around compensation, and their co-founder knew just who to call: Leia Rollag.
Meet Leia Rollag, Head of People at Wildbit
Leia Rollag is the Head of People at Wildbit. Wildbit is the fifth tech company she’s worked at in-house, having previously held positions at Netlify, IFTTT, and Thumbtack. She tends to gravitate towards organizations that have strong engineering cultures, and likes joining a company when they’re around the twenty-five team member mark.
Despite Wildbit being a 20-year-old company, Leia is their team’s first People hire, and most recently, spearheaded Wildbit’s move to location-agnostic pay—a strategy that ensures all employees will be compensated based on the quality of their work, not on where they live.
As more companies begin to hire globally, the question of fair compensation comes into play. Should people in less populated areas with lower cost of living be paid less? Should an employee’s location dictate their salary? Wildbit knew Leia was the person to find out for them. We share some of her valuable insight around location-agnostic pay with you below.
What we learned from Leia about location-agnostic pay
1. Compensation strategies aren’t one-size-fits all.
“I really take an objective approach and analyze all the different reasons why you might pick one strategy over another.”
Leia shares how many companies have justified their decisions to approach pay by location. GitLab, for example, has published their compensation calculator to make their pay structure more transparent. Buffer takes pay transparency a step further and publishes every single individual salary with names on it.
There isn’t just one correct way to approach compensation, but it’s important for other companies to really do their research and understand what makes the most sense for their workforce.
2. Location-agnostic pay is about more than just compensation.
“One piece of this idea is solving for fulfillment, and fulfillment for us doesn't just mean at Wildbit, it means in somebody's life and what they're trying to achieve.”
One of the things Leia loves most about working at Wildbit is that they’re a company that truly puts people first. This feeds into her take on why location-agnostic pay is about more than just compensation—she believes it’s also about helping employees build careers that support their personal goals.
With a location-agnostic pay model, Leia and the Wildbit team strive to enable team members to explore and try new things, and have the freedom to to look at their career journeys in a way that just doesn't put them in a box.
3. However you approach compensation, what’s most important is that your company has a stance on it.
“Whether you choose location agnostic pay or location based pay, it's just really important to have a compensation strategy in the first place. You need something that's consistent—and you have to have stuff in place to guard against bias and favoritism.”
Leia believes that a company’s compensation strategy is just one piece of a bigger picture, and whether you choose location agnostic pay or location based pay, it's important that you have an opinion and stick to it.
When it relates to culture and morale, Leia believes that honesty is truly the best approach, and companies should put their stake in the ground and allow potential employees to decide if their company subscribes to a pay structure that works for them.
What’s next for Leia
While there are still pieces of the location-agnostic pay project that Leia is fleshing out, she shares that some time off is in her near future. Especially given what the last 18 months have looked like for People leaders, she believes that everyone should take the time to rest if they need to.
Right now, Leia is also working on a post that highlights the different responses she got from her team when evaluating this new compensation strategy, and aims to write another on how her team actually modeled the scenarios to decide what was affordable, what their goal would be, and their key milestones. Make sure to stay tuned for those on Wildbit’s blog!
In the meantime, if you’re interested in hearing more from Leia, check out her recent episode of the New World of Work podcast.
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