Date: Aug 01, 2014
Magazine:
August 2014-Western Grower Ag Legal Network
Google's Frank Wagner & WG's Karen Timmins

Did you know that nearly every technology company with more than 20 employees participates in an annual industry compensation and benefits survey?  In the fresh produce industry, we know this participation level is much less; consequently, most are unaware or unfamiliar with formal, third-party compensation data.

What do you do these days when you want to find out something?  You “Google it,” don’t you?  Of course, you sit at a computer and do that, but what if you could “Google” information from a “Google person?”  You can.  Frank Wagner, the high tech guru of compensation will be at the Western Growers Annual Meeting in the flesh with some valuable insight and information about why and how you and your company can benefit from the power of establishing pay systems and principles for salary and benefits.  He has stories to tell and if you have questions to ask, he will answer them.

Workshop II, titled Managing Compensation, at the 89th Annual Meeting will be held on Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, and feature Wagner, who is director of compensation for Google, along with Karen Timmins, senior vice president of human resources for Western Growers.

Timmins will be there to tell you more about the Western Growers Annual H.R. Benefits and Compensation Survey; what she has learned over the past five years and how you can participate.  She has spearheaded this survey since 2009 with the goal of getting more and more companies in the fresh produce industry participating.  More participation increases the reliability of the survey information.

“The produce industry is actually high tech, too,” said Timmins.  “At this workshop, we will highlight the wonder that is Google as well as the wonder of our own industry that has changed and become more sophisticated over the years due to new technologies.”

You may wonder, if every high tech company uses and relies on an annual compensation survey, what do they know that we don’t?

“Using accurate and reliable data and information is a good way to make good judgments,” says Wagner.  “We actually measure everything we do.  We know our offer acceptance rates, our attrition rate, what we pay in the market, what people made in their prior jobs and how that compares with the survey data.  Based on past consulting work, I’ve found that once a company has over 80 to 100 employees, leaders can’t know everybody.  So, in order to make good judgments about how to pay people you need some kind of structure, system or process.  Now, there may be outliers when it’s OK to go outside of normal parameters. That’s okay, but you should know what you are doing and why, and not rely on feelings.”

Timmins says the workshop might prompt you to ask a lot of questions about what you are doing and why. “Is your pay philosophy driving the behaviors at the organization — the kind of behaviors you want to see?  Are those behaviors congruent to what you value and hold dear in your company culture?”  Some people, however, may want to ask if all the data they are submitting will be safe and confidential and if the time and trouble of participating is worth it.  Timmins says, “Yes.  It takes the mystery and worry out of what to pay because you are getting good, empirical data.  It helps you make good business decisions and choices based on something real.  When your employees know you use standards, company morale increases.”

What does Wagner say?

“A lot of organizations may be a little uncomfortable about sharing information with a third party,” says Wagner.  “In the tech industry, we have learned that when data is anonymous, when everyone shares and provides information, and we trust the third party with our data, participation goes up and the result is more accurate and useful data.  We have gotten to such a comfort level that most companies over 20 or more people are participating.”

Wagner is THE compensation guy.  He will answer all your questions.  He joined Google in 2007 and has been there as it grew fivefold from 10,000 employees to almost 50,000 today.  “Working at Google is fast-paced and there is never a dull moment,” says Wagner.  “It’s super stimulating and exciting just to be on the same campus as some of the world’s leading innovators and hearing about all the amazing things people are working on.  We hire such bright and capable people that you better be prepared for every meeting — because if you’re not, they will figure it out in no time!”

WG Staff Contact

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