Episode 9

Gemma Boulton

Season 3

Adopting an Open Salary Model with Cuvva's Gemma Boulton

Perhaps the biggest trend in HR policy this year is pay transparency. Seven states require employers to share salary ranges with current or potential employees. Though the impact can be powerful, let’s be honest: This can be a daunting task. People Leaders still have questions about how to communicate and implement an open compensation model. But if you have the right guide, any company – at any size or stage of development – can make it so. We cracked open this playbook with Gemma Boulton. As Chief People Officer at the car insurance app Cuvva, she has successfully rolled out an open salary model. She tells us how she rolled this out, what she would have done differently, and how 98 percent of her company is happy with this model.

Katelin: Welcome to All Hands, a podcast brought to you by Lattice, where people success is business success. I’m your host Katelin Holloway.

Today we are talking about perhaps the biggest trend in HR policy this year… Pay transparency. Seven states require employers to share salary ranges with current or potential employees. This is not just at the state level either. Cities and even companies including Microsoft also have new salary transparency policies on the books. 

When I was VP of People and Culture at Reddit, my team and I rolled out a transparent pay structure. I saw first hand how these policies close gender and racial wage gaps. In fact, this is the reason why I moved over to the investor side – I knew I wanted to bring pay transparency to more companies. The impact this initiative can have on the wealth gap is powerful. 

But let’s be honest… People Leaders still have questions about how to communicate and implement an open compensation model. It can seem daunting, but if you have the right guide, any company – at any size or stage of development – can make it so.

Which is why I’m so excited to crack open this playbook with Gemma (jem-ma) Boulton. As Chief People Officer at the car insurance app Cuvva (cuh - vuh), she has successfully rolled out an open salary model.


"It's a game changer. Everybody has clarity. It helps people drive their own development, and if they're driving their development, they're driving their performance. If they're driving their performance and productivity, they're driving your business and everybody succeeds."

Katelin: I ask how she rolled this out, what she would have done differently, and how 98 percent of her company is happy with this model. 

Katelin: Gemma, welcome to All Hands.

Gemma: Thank you. I'm excited to be here.

Katelin: We are so thrilled to have you on the show today, I'm really excited to talk about this particular topic of transparency and how transparency plays with the world of compensation.

And so today we're gonna be diving very, very deeply into the topic of Cuvva's open salary model that you designed.

Gemma: Yes.

Katelin: But first, I'd like to talk a little bit more broadly about the value of transparency in general transparency is something that, that many companies struggle with in terms of-

And what does transparency mean at Cuvva and, and why is it so important to employees?

Gemma: Yeah, so I think it's better described at Cuvva is, is openness. And we, we say transparency but it's, but I think.

Katelin: Ah.

Gemma: There's so many different interpretations of, of transparency, whether that's radical transparency and you're sharing everything, and that's definitely something that, that came into fire as we, we kept talking about transparency, is people expected to be told everything and a certain person's name-

And what their salary was, but we think of it more in terms of like, openness, in that you have all of the information that you need, we're going to share everything with you, and some of that does mean y- you're gonna hear things that, that might scare you that you might not want to listen to that you might not agree with, or you're gonna see information, that might panic you. But for us, it really is about giving everybody the information in which they need to make informed decisions, and if you're open and, and transparent, then the fairness aspect follows quite easily and nobody's going to question you.

It, it kind of breeds trust because you're, you're following your interpretation.

Katelin: Right.I love that distinction. People tend to view transparency as a light switch. It's either on or off, either full opacity or, or fully radically transparent., neither one of those options is effective. And the, the true answer lies somewhere in between and it's a sliding scale, that ought to be determined by and mutually agreed upon by the organization, right? By the culture itself.

Gemma: Yeah.

Katelin: Let's take on the topic of general openness, or general transparency. Are there any other examples of openness that is used at, at Cuvva that you would like to highlight?

Gemma: Yeah, we have like open praise, and this is where we, we pivoted from like, that radical transparency to openness, when it ca-, especially when it came to feedback and people-

Katelin: Right.

Gemma: Giving and receiving that feedback and being, or, or having the ability to do so. We also share our, our forecast, which not all companies do so our financial ends up with the company-

Katelin: Yeah.

Gemma: We share our ballparks, and basically try to give everybody as much information as we possibly can without going into a breach of any sort of data protection. So we're, we're extremely open with every aspect of the business, goals, tracking everything.

Katelin: That's amazing. As a leadership team, how do you decide when it's time to reevaluate your openness?

Gemma: I think it's very fluid.

Katelin: Yeah.

Gemma: We, i- it's something that we constantly talk about. It really depends on, on where we are as a business. If I think about the trajectory over the last few years, there's been so many conversations where we started with open door leadership meetings.-

Where the door is open and people could sit outside and listen, then it becomes, well actually, then you might be d- discussing a certain department or a certain individual might come up-

Or, or you're discussing things, and then that, you know, okay, yeah, this is probably a bit too much. So it's just when any risk is involved. we really do think about it. But as a, as a collective, when we're discussing anything that's, that's related to the business, whether that be the company roadmap or funding or what's going on, we, we have a weekly, leadership briefing and we'll make sure that we present the,, anything and everything that's needed to the business during that. And then through, through Lattice actually, through gathering feedback and all of our, engagement surveys we get a really good hold on, is everybody got a really good understand of what's happening at Cuvva? Do we need to be more open? Do we need to drive more comms? Do we need to focus on a different area? Do, you know, is everybody really on board with what's happening? And, and that's a really good indicator for us, so if need to, to ramp things up a little bit in terms of our, our openness.

Katelin: Right. That makes a lot of sense. So would love to now get into the open salary model. And so, level-set with us a bit first. How large is your organization? How many full-time employees do you have?

Gemma: So we are about 120 now.

Katelin: And when did you start implementing an open salary model, about, from, in terms of headcount?

Gemma: So it was probably about when we were, we were about half the size, I think about 60 or 70 people. It was at that stage where you're getting, y- you've got more people who are in defined roles as opposed to in startups of that sense where people are juggling a few different roles and they're kind of working-

Across different areas or, or filling the gaps. Once we started to get things established it was just that natural next step of we should start looking at the salary model and what does that mean for us and what is our approach to compensation and, and how do we drive that?

Katelin: So take us back to the beginning. What motivated or what prompted you all to, to say, "Now is the time,"?

Gemma: When I first joined Cuvva, it was always something that was on my mind to do here because they were so dedicated to transparency, because they were so open, I'd say, back then there was open door leadership meetings. And people were always asking about pay and how their compensation is made up and how they can get a salary increase. And what I definitely felt is it was the people who spoke up more, it was the people who shouted the loudest. It seemed to have that, that focus because they were drawing that attention there and that really didn't fall in line with our fairness values.

And then if I think back to, to the beginning of, of last year it was, it was on our roadmap, and it was on our roadmap for like Q3, and um, we were getting more and more pressure from the company, to be honest. It was people who were saying, "I want to know how compensation is made up. I want to know what that next level is-"

"For me. I want to know what that step is even in my own role. Like, how do I get a salary increase and what will that be and how will that look like so I can drive my own, my own development?" We've always been big on giving people the tools to drive their own development and to go out and, and get the exposure and we do lots of work around giving people role enhancements and exposure and projects in different areas so that we can progress and people can move into, to other roles in a, in a different career path within the same company. But in order to do that correctly, we were uh, really needed to all come back to this. So we're getting a lot more pressure, so we actually pulled it forward um, and then myself and, and my current head of people and culture we sat down, was like, right, okay. Let's think about how, how we do this. What does the process look like?

Katelin: Mm-hmm.

Gemma: What's most important for, for Cuvva? And I'd already started like a bit of a strategy on it the year before when, when doing that alignment piece.

Katelin: Right.

Gemma: We needed to think kind of life 6, 12, 18 months ahead of like what roles are gonna be in the business, like how big are we gonna be? How sustainable is this? You know, what is our, what's our runway, what's our funding like? Like how much can we afford to pay-

Katelin: Yeah.

Gemma: And where does that come in? Like, what's kind of talent are we trying to att- attract? But then also being really, really clear with the rest of the leadership team and, and hiring managers that in order to do this properly, you can't deviate from it. You can't be offering salaries that are-

Off the salary model. You can't be negotiating. You have to have standards for, what does experience mean? What does mastering a skill mean? So you have to kind of like, I had to think about what that end goal is and then pull it all back in, and it really started with getting benchmarking, getting really good um, benchmarking so that we could see what salaries would be competitive, what we should be paying.

I did a, a bunch of research on, on what tools to use 'cause there was so many out there.

Katelin: Right. (laughs)

Gemma: (laughs) and there is, there is a lot of choice, but a-, but needing to look for a benchmarking service that does provide that kind of data as well, so it provides it-

Companies that we would a- actively poach staff from, that we would headhunt into.

Katelin: Right.

Gemma: So managed to find that, one of the first steps was then getting everything on paper, so all of your job evaluations, which is such an in-depth process.

And, and, and making sure that we had not just the technical skill for each role, but what are our behavioral standards as well, you know?

Katelin: Mm-hmm.

Gemma: What are our ways of working? And making sure all of that's on paper. And presenting that to the whole business. I presented that this is, this is what our approach is gonna be, this is the project timelines, this is what I'm gonna need from you, and this is what we'll give in, in return, and, and this is the timelines in which you'll know what the salaries that we can pay are, and this is the process it will take to it. So one, one leadership briefing I just ran through that with the whole company and had a bunch of questions. Lots and lots of feedback, from, (laughs) from everybody at-

Katelin: I can imagine.

Gemma: They were very, very opinionated but it's pay, it's so close to you, to, to home. That's why we come to work, really, if you're honestly truthful about it.

Katelin: Right.

Gemma: Like, that is such a huge factor in, in where you're gonna work and, you know, and, and what your longevity at a company is, especially at a startup business. If you can't scale the compensation it, in, in, in line with the market you're, you're not gonna retain the best talent. I put some of the onus back on individuals and got like a bit of a project group together for people to help with the job evaluations, particularly around the technical skills, because at the end of the day, who's better to know the, what the technical skill is for a job than the people that are doing it? Then had managers and, and other people cross-check that and then we submitted it all to get all the benchmarking data. Very, very lengthy process. Took a good couple of months just to do that. (laughs)

Katelin: Uh-huh.

Gemma: And I'm not joking, I was so sick of writing competency at the end of it.

Katelin: Right I feel that.

Gemma: (laughs) I know. We, we got all of the information back which, it gives back, like a, a bracket of what people are paying at, and it comes back in percentiles. So you go from like the tenth to the hundredth percentile of like, and the companies, there are a certain proportion of companies paying at the lower percentile and a proportion of companies paying at the higher percentile. What we needed to then do is forecast out where we could pay at, so assuming everybody's at the top, which nobody ever really is at the, you know, that's never gonna happen.

You're not gonna have everybody performing at the top.

Making sure that if that were the case that we could afford that and you've, that's mapped out. Not just for the staff that you've got right now, but also for your hiring plan, taking that into consideration as well and the roles that you don't yet know about, and the roles that you, you may have scoped out but you know is gonna need some iteration when you get a subject ma- matter expert coming in, they really make it their own.

Then it got signed off by our CEO and sat down with him. During, whilst that was happening, was able to get everybody's skills benchmarked.

Katelin: Mm-hmm.

Gemma: We call it skills benchmarking 'cause we're just benchmarking your skills against your job evaluation. So there was a lot of training that we put in place for this is what it means to master a skill and on that first iteration, it was literally if you can showcase that you've done something a few times, like, then you're, like three times at least, then you're mastering that skill. And then the, the terminology which we used around, other aspects were like, something that you might need more support on. So if you need a line manager or a peer to support you on a specific task, maybe you're not mastering that.

And if you haven't had exposure to a specific task or it's something that y- you only are able to observe somebody doing, then you're not, not mastering that obviously at all. The process we took was for individuals to rate themselves and for their managers to also rate them. We do this in conjunction with 360 feedback, in our, our review sect so we, we were constantly getting feedback on people's performance. But the idea is, is managers should not see the individuals and how they've scored themselves, and the individuals should not see what the manager's done until they meet and do an alignment meeting.

Katelin: Yeah.

Gemma: And during that meeting if, if then, if they're not aligned on, on a certain skill it's up to the other to, to explain, you know, if, if an individual has said they're mastering something and, and their line manager has said, "You're not quite mastering it," Then they would have to tell, "Well no, the, here is where I can showcase that I am actually mastering that skill, or this is several examples of that behavior to show that I, I am mastering that behavior, it's something that I live day in, day out."

And the same the other way around is, is obviously if, i- if, if the manager's like, determined and then, "Well, here's some examples of, of why you are doing this or why you're not." And then they um, come to an agreement and then we go away and, and, and we, we basically percentage it and, and put, place people on, on the salary model. So all of the work was trying to get that all done in conjunction so we're not, we're not having people have to wait until we've really, really mapped out what those steps on the salary model are gonna be, so what bracket we're gonna be paying at. And we had to do that so, so that, you know, people aren't trying to, to map themself against a certain salary if they know what the top salary is gonna be and th- they, they've got that in their mind, it becomes, subjective.

Katelin: Right.

Gemma: To people because y- you're looking at, oh okay, I'll want to be mastering however much percentage of my job because I, I really want, you know, a salary, It was a super simple process, there were just a lot of steps to it and a lot of um, back and forth and, if you're having really meaningful one-to-ones and you've got a really um, meaningful review process and, and people are, people should understand where they're performing anyway, there shouldn't be any huge surprises.

Katelin: Right.

Gemma: Then in terms about how, how then that, that, that worked is obviously we then placed everybody with on the, on the salary model. We, we decided the bracket in which we could um, pay people on, we, we made seven steps um, so you, as you're progressing through your job, you're progressing through the salary model.

Katelin: So one, I want to thank you for outlining the process so articulately. Uh, getting in there, giving us kind of the good, the bad, the ugly. Um, and what I, what I want to do quickly is kind of just clarify that process for our listeners in, into, to the bigger buckets. Um, and, and then two, uh, really talk a little bit more about how any company can implement this. So, the great news here for, for the two of us, um, I did exactly the same thing.

And I followed almost exactly the same process-

Gemma: Wow. (laughs)

Katelin: When I was working at Reddit. And so the, for, for, I, I just want to say like, operator to operator, like, bravo. Well done.

Gemma: Thank you.

Katelin: (laughs)

Gemma: (laughs)

Katelin: This is no easy feat. But I think, and, and I hope that we agree here, but once, once you actually do this, once you go through and do that kind of heavy lifting up front or, or as I articulated to my executive team, like we're gonna pay our tax up front on this. We're gonna just spend the time, spend the energy, spend the resources. But I promise you, and I held my breath and crossed my fingers, I promise you-

Gemma: (laughs)

Katelin: That on the back end of this, it actually makes our lives a whole lot easier.

Gemma: Mm-hmm.

Katelin: So one, y- you know, you're going to be living your values. You're going to be walking the walk uh, for, for what you say, and if you say that you value transparency or you value diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, emphasis on equity, um, and then how the, that, that equitability in your process actually impacts, as you mentioned, your diversity, that deep feeling of belongingness, the inclusion that comes with it. So there, there are impacts that putting a process like this in place um, can have and will have and that ripple effect actually helps you not only increase all of the things that you say that you want to increase, but it also increases productivity and output. Because your team-

Is spending so much less time worried about their salary, talking, you know, at the water cooler or in the virtual water cooler in Slack, uh, around, you know, "I don't know about this," or "That person has that," or... You know, you reduce all of that noise-

Gemma: Yeah.

Katelin: And that chatter in the back channel um, and people get to do what they were hired to do, which is focus on outcomes. And so um, let's, l- let's, let's take it back to the top really quickly and kind of break it down into these bite sized pieces, because what I heard you say is, is there, v- very loosely and largely, uh, you've got two buckets,, and several uh, pieces of collateral, right? S- several um, tools that, that you built in order to set your team up for success for implementation. So you've got the two, two major um, cohorts of talent that you're, you're um, satisfying. You have your existing team, so the, the things that exist for that team are very largely around performance management, uh, levels, skillsets, building the tools that, that help your existing team uh, be appropriately um, slotted in to the systems and tools that you're building. And then you have the, the cohort of talent that you have yet to hire.

Gemma: Yeah.

Katelin: So this is a- around recruiting and, and future casting your org and, and org design. So first things first, We've got um, first you have to do your, your strategy and philosophy, to say-

Gemma: Yeah.

Katelin: Hey, let's align the leadership team around transparent pay. Now, on that sliding scale of, of transparency, where do we want to go? So once you theoretically build out the, hey, this is what we're aiming for here, then you have to get into the benchmarking, so that deep-

Gemma: Yeah.

Katelin: Understanding of market, and then also uh, before you, you do that or concurrently, you have to understand your existing levels, right? So-

Gemma: Mm-hmm.

Katelin: Every function, every role, every job, and then the different levels that you have within that function.

Gemma: Mm-hmm.

Katelin: So taking people and culture for example, uh, you can't just say, great, what is a people and culture person making in this market? No, well you've got-

Gemma: Yeah.

Katelin: Recruiters, you have talent development folks, you've got diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging specialists. So understanding, you know, again, generically based on your size of company, um, what those, those different roles are within one particular function and then the appropriate number of levels where you can progress from very, very green to, to um, an expert. Right?

Gemma: Yeah, that's exactly. Pay is such a taboo subject. It's, it's-

Katelin: Yeah.

Gemma: It's really… In, in a lot of companies it's not spoken about, a lot of people don't really like talking about it. But we should encourage people to talk about pay, it, it only works if they feel comfortable doing so and it only works if they feel that it is a fair process. We, we did toy with the idea of, should I put Gemma, and then my salary? Um, but again, that just, that doesn't really give you any development aspect. That doesn't show you, that doesn't show me what the next stop of-

My role is going to be. And not everybody would want that. So how is it, you could say there's chief people officer and then there's my salary range. Obviously you know that I'm being paid within there, I am the only chief people officer at Cuvva.

Katelin: Right. (laughs)

Gemma: But, but you don't, (laughs) but you don't know exactly where. And that's u- unless I choose to share that with whoever. And that really um, kind of gives people the, the safety and then the comfortableness of like, this is open, but it's not radically transparent. It's fair because you've all got the same expectations of, of what it means to master a skill, the, all of the job evaluations have the same criteria within them, we've been back and forth on them so much. Everybody's also had access to them, so everybody's been able to give their feedback. It's been the individuals in the roles-

Katelin: Mm-hmm.

Gemma: That created those first drafts of the job evaluations. Then when we're going into hiring, it helps again because you're not, you're not allowing anybody to negotiate through the hiring process. What you're doing is then that, we have a salary model. They're all seven different steps for this particular role, so it ranges from A to B, and then as you're being interviewed and you're going through your different interview stages, you're being skills benchmarked against that same job evaluation. And at the end of the hiring process, when we're about to make an offer, the hiring manager and somebody from the people team will go back through all of the feedback and all of the information and they will go through that skills benchmark and on the job evaluation for the individual, and we decide then on what that, that salary is based on, you know, the percentages are the same way as what is made up for, for anybody. That might be 10K more than what you're on right now. It might be 5K less.

But you need to be comfortable with what that salary range is when you're applying and, and we make sure that we have those conversations in-

Katelin: Right.

Gemma: The entirety through the, the hiring process so people aren't surprised, and then um, we're very, very clear again, in our offer emails that we don't negotiate on pay but what we would like to do is have a post-offer call and we have that call where we do explain it. It's, it's helped um, I think it's helped a lot of our diversity, to, to be honest, a lot of our diversity metrics and we definitely have a lot more women in the company than what we did have, especially in engineering, and I think-

Katelin: Mm-hmm.

Gemma: Some of that comes from the fact that, you know, w- we do say we don't negotiate on pay. We do say we're paying fair and we're ba-, we're basing this on the skills that you have.

Katelin: Yeah.

Gemma: It means that we can have a really great continuous approach to pay, um, and makes it, like I say, it makes it extremely fair and taking the negotiation out of it, yes, does mean we lose some people, it's, and it's awful when your people who are so bought into a culture and who you think is super engaged and then... Especially this year, where we've all been blindsided with, with the, the market being extremely hot, and, and somebody might come in and be like, "I've been offered 10, 15K higher to work here." And we're like, "Well, we can't..."

"We, we don't do that. We don't match that, so we have to wish you wellwe have to like, really stay to our, our values.

Katelin: Yeah.

Gemma: We've got to really stay true to it. Because otherwise, what's the point?

Katelin: Exactly.

Gemma: That’s where culture drift starts as well. Like, you've, you've got to be extremely, extremely thorough. But because we have this continuous approach, because it's not, you wait 6 months or 12 months and then you have a salary re- review, it's a continuous conversation. You're having it throughout you're one-to-ones, you should be skills benchmarked at least once a quarter. It, it does mean people do get frequent increases. We've really kept iterating on the process though and, and really try to take on board the feedback and listening to what's gone well in the alignment meetings, and going okay, no, this, this role now has line management responsibilities so we need to go back and re-benchmark that role-

Katelin: Mm-hmm.

Gemma: And we need to do that now, not, not further down the line when we re-benchmark everything. And then this March, 'cause it was the one year anniversary. We did go in and we re- re-ben- re-benchmarked every single role again we were able to forecast for it knowing roughly what the market looks like. We were able to just increase salaries at the same time.

You want to offer the best, you want to create a great place to work, you want people to be able to driver their own development under, have very clear expectations around skills, responsibilities, behaviors. But if you, if you're overpaying for what you can afford for that amount of, of individuals, A, you're not going to be able to then hire and you're gonna burn everybody out because you're gonna have spent all your budget-

Katelin: Right.

Gemma: On, on internally. But also like, you're gonna quickly overload on your people costs, so you have to monitor that very, very carefully on what does that look like now and what, what's that gonna be in 6, 12, 18, 24 months time. And factor in not just new joiners, but incremental salary increases. Like you say, it's a lot of time, a lot of effort but it does make your life easy. You made a really great point there, like even from a hiring perspective, it makes our life so much easier because we're just like-

Katelin: Oh, I love it.

Gemma: How much time in the past did people spend negotiating on pay or wondering. What they should pay for a role and Googling what, what another company is doing?

Katelin: Yeah.

Gemma: It takes all of the headache away. Hiring managers and the exec team loved that, to be honest, because (laughs)-

Katelin: Love, love it. (laughs)

Gemma: It, it instantly as well, like, the whole process instantly gives you a skills gap analysis of your entire company.

Katelin: Exactly!

Gemma: You're already like ahead on your L&D goals before you've even got an L&D team

Katelin: Precisely.

Gemma: So all of the work is really worthwhile once you've got all of that, those job evaluations down, once you've got your, your salaries built out, then deciding in where you can pay on the salary model and getting to grips with where people are placed, everything else comes so much easier. The process between last March and now is like, everyone does it on a day to day.

Katelin: Right? It's so easy. I, this is the part that I-

Gemma: So easy.

Katelin: I cannot emphasize for our listeners, where it seems so daunting, so incredibly daunting-

Gemma: Yeah.

Katelin: To say "I'm going to take on this big initiative." But I promise you, and I'm so glad to hear you back me up this one, I promise you...

Gemma: (laughs)

Katelin: And I worked with so many young companies in my line of work now. Whether you're implementing this on, on day one, like, you know, day zero you've gotten that first pre-seed round to, you know, hey we're, we're already at series C or series D, I don't know if I can do this, the answer is yes. The answer is absolutely yes, please do this, and your future self will thank you. Because once you have all of those tools in place and you reevaluate them on a, on a regular cadence, and in my case I was doing them annually with kind of a mid-year check in, just to be like, hey has the market done anything weird or wild? Just in case.

Gemma: Yep.

Katelin: I promise you, it will save you time, money, and, and so much heartache on the backend, that it, it, and it can grow and scale with you through exit. I, I have seen it. I have witnessed it with my own two eyes. (laughs)-

Gemma: (laughs)

Katelin: And my favorite part of all of it, and it's something that, that you said that I want to highlight quickly, is this is the best application of your values. Yes, you are going to lose people in this process. People on your team-

Gemma: Yeah.

Katelin: You might fiercely disagree with somebody in, in a leadership position around this because they, they want those extra levers that they can twist and play with to get the people that they really, really think and feel that they need, but guess what, you are living your values in the most important area of your business, from the employee perspective.

Gemma: Mm-hmm.

Katelin: I want to feel rewarded, I want to feel recognized, and I need to understand what I need to get from here to where I want to be. And so when you can satisfy those things for your team, your values and your culture just is brought to life in a way that I cannot describe. And your candidates feel it, and they see it.

Gemma: Oh, yeah.

Katelin: And so you're naturally, y- your culture and your value set are starting to do exactly what they're designed to do. Th- these are not meant to be posters on a wall or stickers on your notebook, this is really about helping to um, create that foundry of what is sacred to your organization so that you can grow and thrive and produce the very best products in the world, whatever those may be.

Gemma: I, I would say like, don't be daunted by it, maybe. Don't hold off. And really believe in it, because like you said, it, it's a game changer, it, everybody has clarity on,, where they're being paid, what they're doing. It helps people drive their own development, and if they're driving their development, they're driving their performance. If they're driving their performance and productivity, they're driving your business and everybody succeeds. It does sometimes mean that people get to a level and, and maybe you haven't got that next level role open for them there, because you're not quite there, but that's okay because you've done your job to get them to that level, and that's when somebody should be moving on. And because you've already then got a really great skills gap analysis of your company, you know where your succession is. You know how, your people are continually progressing into roles and you don't have this, "Oh, only, only they know about that," Or, "Only they can do that."

Katelin: Right.

Gemma: Because that no longer exists because everybody's wanting to learn and everybody's wanting to drive their own development because that's how they get more pay. And most people are motivated by that. It's not necessarily motivation by, you know, getting more money, it's motivated by the reward of it, by the recognition of that.

Katelin: Yeah.

Gemma: And, and that's um, that's like double, double whammy for me, then like, the win-win. (laughs)

Katelin: Absolutely.

Gemma: I can't stress enough how much easier it's made all of our lives here. Yeah, I was always champion on open salary model. (laughs)

Katelin: Win-win-win propositions anywhere we can in life, uh, that, that is it. These are the gems.

Gemma: It is. (laughs)

Katelin: Gemma, well, before I let you go today, we like to end our show with a series of rapid fire questions that are completely non-sequitur and off-topic, are you ready?

Gemma: Yeah, sure. I'm quite nervous now. (laughs)

Katelin: Don't worry. We'll start easy. We'll start easy.

Gemma: Okay, great.

Katelin: Okay, I want you to look around uh, your desk right now or wherever you are. Find one thing and tell me why it brings you joy.

Gemma: It's a thank you card from a leave that I had from somebody on my team. They left last year but I can't take it off of my desk at home.

Katelin: Aw.

Gemma: We gave him so much um, exposure and he was able to go on and, and actually do a role that he enjoyed that we, we weren't able to give him a, a bigger role basically because we weren't quite there yet and I love it. When I'm having-

Katelin: Aw.

Gemma: A bad day,'cause let's face it, in, in this role you're not always loved-

Katelin: (laughs)

Gemma: I pick this up and I read it, so I always say like, thanks to Joe for giving me that. It gives me so much joy. (laughs)

Katelin: Aw, how, how sweetly appropriate and connected that was! I loved that, that's so sweet.


Gemma: (laughs)

Katelin: Okay, next question. I'm gonna piggyback on, on the, the idea that, you know, not all days are great days. but how do you recharge after a particularly stressful day?

Gemma: I go walk the dog. So cliché-

Katelin: Yeah.

Gemma: Isn't it? But I never believed in it, and until last year and it was extremely stressful (laughs) year for us being like locked in the house and stuff, and I, yeah-

It just puts everything in per-, into persp- perspective for me that I won't be upset about it tomorrow, it's okay. (laughs)

Katelin: All right Gemma, one last question for you. When was the last time you were deeply proud of something you have accomplished?

Gemma: we are trialing the four-day work week, and I was so-

Katelin: Oh, nice.

Gemma: Proud that I was able to get that over the line with leadership, and then today I was just doing the report on the first lot of feedback and the first lot of productivity scores from it, and it's just going so well. So yeah, like, hopefully in a few months time we'll be able to like, share blog posts and stuff about it because it'll be something that we permanently go to.

Katelin: Amazing.

Gemma: I, I'm really proud of that.

Katelin: That, i- it, this sounds like a follow-up episode, uh, just saying.

Gemma: (laughs) I know, yeah, like, "Come talk to me!"

Katelin: (laughs)

Gemma: (laughs)

Katelin: Gemma, it has been absolutely a pleasure to spend this time with you today,, so I will end by saying thank you so very much for doing the work that you do out there in this wild and strange world, so please, please keep leading authentically.

Gemma: Thank you, and thanks for having me. I've really enjoyed this. It's been great.

Thanks so much for joining me on this week’s episode of All Hands, brought to you by Lattice. I’m your host, Katelin Holloway. 

Follow All Hands on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts… so you never miss an episode. 

If you’ve learned something new from this episode, tell a friend or colleague who might like the show. Or leave a review on your podcast app to help more listeners find the show.

Learn more about how Lattice can help your business stay people focused at Lattice DOT com or find us on Twitter @LatticeHQ. 

All Hands is produced by Lattice in partnership with Pod People. Special thanks to our production team: Christine Swor, Annette Cardwell, Rachael King, Aimee Machado, Danielle Roth, Jessica Pilot and Carter Wogan. 

Until next time, keep leading authentically!

subscribe to podcast

About the Guest

podcast guest

Gemma Boulton

Gemma Boulton is the Vice President of People and Culture at Cuvva. An executive people leader with 15 years experience managing the full employee life cycle, creating great working environments globally within various industries and sized businesses. Specializing in scaling start-ups, providing expert advice on scaling and building People, Talent and Culture departments from scratch, Gemma has a passion for engagement, experience & automation utilizing her experience & knowledge to build an engaged and fulfilled workforce in today's workplace.

Uncover insights from the world’s people leaders