At Planes, fair pay = happy team!


Industry: Digital product design 

Country: UK

Number of employees: 30+

Planes are a digital product studio partnering with startups, scaleups and leaders to experiment and launch digital products and services that people love. We spoke to People Manager, Sophie Aspden, to hear how Planes is using Figures to promote genuine transparency and employee wellbeing.

# The Challenge

At Planes, a happy team is high on the agenda. The company has made it onto Flexa’s Top 20 Most Flexible Companies list for the past two years; offering extra parental leave and flexible working as standard, Planes regularly reviews its policies to ensure that employees are supported to give their best.

People Lead Sophie believes that her role is all about their wellbeing:

“I'm the people lead at Planes, so I look after our team's experiences, end to end – from their first interactions through to when they want to leave.  My main goal is to make sure that Planes is a place where our team members are growing and feel supported along that journey… and very importantly that they enjoy being here. We believe that by making sure our team is paid fairly, we will not only have a more diverse team but a happier one.”

# The Objectives

In order to offer fair pay, not just to new hires but also existing employees, Planes needed to access benchmarking data.  

But, as an agency, they found their options were limited. The team struggled to access salary data which was relevant to their own roles. “A lot of salary data is predominantly start-ups and scale-ups. A lot of places don’t have salary figures on job descriptions. So I’d be speaking to people to find out what theirs were.”

Using Figures, Sophie was able to filter the data and examine salaries at similar businesses. “Figures has the option to benchmark against agencies and consultancies too which has allowed for accurate benchmarking

# The Strategy

Salary data is helpful at two key times: when new roles are created and during salary reviews. 

Planes has transparent salary bandings for all levels. “We recently did some team design work and introduced levels into the business. We used Figures to see if our salary banding is actually correct – more data means we can make better and more informed decisions.”

The company also conducts regular pay reviews.  “We have team growth meetings every four months, in which we look at everyone’s pay across the board to see if there are any discrepancies from new hires. People know when these will happen, so they can always say if they are looking for a pay rise or promotion. By doing this regularly we’re looking to increase equality across the team” 

A transparent salary structure means that employees can see their positions and project their own progression. “If they request a pay rise, their development manager puts forward their recommendations and they get a decision afterwards. If they haven’t got what they wanted, they will get feedback on the why, and what's needed to get them there next time”

# The Results

Employees benefit from salary transparency.  “Transparency here is already important but now our teams can see that we’re looking to be competitive and are able to see that we’re benchmarking against other companies. We’re also able to share the analysis around the gender pay gap and how that’s broken down between management and practices.  I think that’s super helpful and shows that as a business we care about those scores and that it’s something we’re focussing on.”

New roles can be accurately levelled. “When thinking about new roles, we can see where they should lie using market data and our bandings, which helps us to stay competitive and pay at the right level. It’s definitely saved time for me.”

Benchmarking can be carried out on a regular basis – which helps the company do their part towards reducing the gender pay gap. “I like to review the data yearly to understand if there have been any changes.  The big one for me is the gender pay gap analysis; that’s awesome and something that would have been super time-consuming for me to figure out.  It was really cool to share that with the team and see what we’re doing to help or improve it.”

Figures’ new budgeting feature enables the People team to plan raises. “Previously, I had to figure out an Excel formula to work out what a 10% or 20% increase across the year would do to our top line. Now Figures can do that, taking inflation into account as well. That’s going to be really helpful.”

“What's really good is that using Figures let’s us show the team that what we're doing is positive for them. They can understand. Otherwise, you can say, ‘Oh, we benchmark’, but the team don't know what that really see where that comes from, by being able to share the data from Figures and show that it’s against a huge data set increases the transparency and trust behind the decisions.”

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