Yiorgos Boudouris: Talking Tiny Mile and the Big Picture Drive for Transparent and Flexible Compensation Strategy

Jason McRobbie

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Taking the stage at our recent Tech Talent North, Yiorgos Boudouris, head of talent for Tiny Mile, helped us confront a common fear in the recruitment process—compensation strategy. We caught up with Yiorgos post conference to dig deeper into what has made pay strategy has become a primary concern for employers of all sizes—and why transparency and flexibility are key for candidates and employers alike.

Key Takeaways:

  • Transparency and flexibility in pay compensation strategy is a powerful tool in a competitive landscape;
  • Posting salary ranges is powerful and simple, but needs to be preceded by internal, foundational work;
  • Using the Formula Method for tailoring a pay strategy that fits your organization in the moment is key to sustainable success.

As a recruiter at heart with nearly a decade in tech, Yiorgos Boudouris, head of talent for Tiny Mile, knows the value of being able to present a transparent and flexible compensation strategy to a candidate.

Having been able to build Tiny Mile’s compensation strategy that way from inside out has also provided him with a wealth of information on the work that needs to be done before putting any range of numbers on a posting.

That said, what has been the realization of a professional dream for Yiorgos—to build the HR programs to make the recruitment process thrive—is rapidly becoming recognized as integral to sourcing and sustaining teams of any size.

In the Canadian tech industry, where the talent game has been wildly afoot during the remote-working, pandemic years, transparency and flexibility have not only become an expectation of candidates being courted by more progressive organizations—but of existing teams as well.

“From my perspective, it’s coming from candidates and current employees first and foremost. This is a time when they are demanding more,” Yiorgos said. “Why that matters is that to have a great culture you need to provide context to your employees so they can deliver their best work—and compensation, growth and pay strategy is such a huge part of that.”

However, while this ideal scenario is one that Yiorgos fosters with Tiny Mile’s tiny, but growing, team of 20, it’s still an emergent philosophy for many.

“Unfortunately, usually organizations provide very minimal context for employees on these topics. And so, I think we started to see people getting frustrated with that real lack of transparency and not having access to information that’s so important,” said Yiorgos. “In many ways, employers large and small have to meet these demands simply in order to grow and retain their employees and organizations.”

That said, while the external impetus is strong, the internal impact of transparency unleashed can be massive, Yiorgos points out, for better or worse depending upon how it is handled.

“That’s really interesting for me from a strategy perspective because it is very easy to slap a range on a job posting. But what happens if this is the first time that an employee of yours is seeing this? There are a lot of nuance there, a lot of context and it can be very sensitive.

What if they see that range and maybe they are not in it or on the low end? Maybe they don’t understand where that range came from or are not aware that one employee group may have a range that is much greater than theirs,” said Yiorgos. “To me, that is all the stuff that organizations need to develop in the background for you to confidently put that salary range on job postings.”

Regarding that background development, Yiorgos has a compensation caveat for any and all in tech:

“Know where you fit in the competitive landscape. Know what works for you and your organization at your current stage and scale. Just because we all operate in the same tech ecosystem doesn’t mean that we should expect to compete with each other equally for employees.”

Embracing this perspective is key to keeping out of the hyper-competitive battle and focusing on asking the questions that lay the foundation for a pay strategy that fits—if not forever.

“What does transparency mean to you? Does that mean sharing your pay bands internally? Is it just sharing your overall approach to compensation decisions? Is it sharing team members exact pay with the entire organization?” asked Yiorgos. “We’re seeing some start-ups with what they call Sunshine Lists that just post everyone’s salary publicly, so if you want a sense of pay and equity looks like within an organization, BAM, it is there to see.”

Getting there can be the challenge, Yiorgos acknowledges. While eschewing silver bullets and one-size-fits-all solutions for compensation strategies, he is a strong proponent of the Formula Method for a more bespoke and sustainable approach.

“There are a number of factors that go into creating the Formula Method for compensation that any employer can use. One is the idea of benchmarking, looking at various sources of compensation and survey data to assess the competitiveness of what you pay against your competitors,” said Yiorgos. “I think really highly of Barley as a source for compensation data, but you need to be talking with your team too. Are you paying at the top end all roles? Is it just for some? What is the balance across the company? These are nuances to be explored.”

“Another part of the work to be done is categorizing your jobs into families, looking at your employee’s level of knowledge, the complexity of the role and function,” said Yiorgos. “Then there is the job level—the level of ownership and growth someone has within that family.”

“Location is another big component of this. Are you looking at the region’s where people work and the cost of living?” he added.

Interestingly, another aspect Yiorgos had not considered factoring in before stepping into the big talent shoes at Tiny Mile is the availability of grants for Canadian employers hiring Canadian talent.

“That has been really important to us and can definitely be a decision factor in your compensation framework,” said Yiorgos. "All of these things really come together to help you provide solid answers about where you operate in the range and what makes sense for your operation.”

Regardless of the groundwork to be laid and clarity of communications required, Yiorgos is adamant about the importance of flexibility and transparency at the heart of any compensation strategy.

“You can split this into two groups. There are your existing teams and this transparency helps employees understand, sustain and grow their career with you. You can also create strategy that recognizes team members have different needs depending at what stage they are at in their life and career. Transparency in a culture can help recognize and encourage even further flexibility.”

Then there is new talent.

“It’s a game changer for recruitment. You’re able to put your best offer forward as a company. We use that language to mean that when we present the offer it IS your best offer—based on all the research and everything you have done and can detail,” said Yiorgos. “I also like that if this person joins your company, they have such a high level of knowledge of how you work already. That’s really interesting because they are coming in more prepared and with a better sense of how they will be treated.”

“At Tiny Mile, even at the latter stage when we make the offer, we’re spending 30 minutes with people walking them through that offer. We’re telling them about our growth strategy, answering to what success would look like if we were ever to potentially exit or go public,” said Yiorgos. “All of these are huge factors when you are working in tech because a big part of your compensation can be equity and equity is meaningless if you don’t understand what the strike price is, how is the company being valued, what is your fundraising strategy, how many shares are outstanding—all of these details. Otherwise, it’s just a number without meaning.”

For Yiorgos, that meaning is key.

“I am definitely a believer that your recruitment process should reflect what is like to be an employee,” he said. “A lot of organizations put trust and transparency at the forefront of their culture, but aren’t necessarily reflecting that in their recruitment process—and that’s a gap that I hope to fix.”