Building a globally-minded total rewards program with Canva’s Emily Francis

February 6, 2024
Min Read
Building a globally-minded total rewards program with Canva’s Emily Francis

Key topics

Attracting top candidates from all over the globe — without overpaying.

The task becomes truly challenging once comp teams encounter just how huge the differences in talent expectations, government regulations, data availability, and insight reliability can get.

In our latest webinar, Charlie Franklin (Compa’s Co-Founder and CEO) discussed different angles and nuances of this task with Canva’s Head of Total Rewards, Emily Francis.

Key topics

  • How to approach the questions and the potential of global mobility
  • What to do if you can’t trust (or access) local comp data and insights
  • The AI difference: will it support or damage comp teams around the world
  • How to adjust your comp processes and practices to local or regional conditions
  • The second-biggest mistake comp teams make with their global total rewards strategies

It’s all about striking the balance

Charlie opened by stating the biggest mistake comp teams make when working on their global rewards strategies - a one-fits-all approach. It served as a cue for Emily to demonstrate why she was chosen as our expert webinar guest.

She pointed out the dangers of going too far in a different direction. Make your approach too granular - and you’ll find yourself in a position that puts your pivoting skills to the test. 

It’s all about striking the balance.

To do so, Emily pointed out the importance of fine-tuning your company’s minimum viable rewards structure (MVS). Your MVS should be easy to understand, follow, and uphold. 

Local comp practices vary. So do expectations.

From city to city, country to country, and region to region, we discover vast differences when it comes to compensation regulations, practices, expectations, and data accessibility.  

Emily is a firm believer in determining your company’s baseline. It should be consistent and firm about what sometimes can be - and what can never be altered, when approaching talent in different locations. 

“In some places, we’ll have to do more. But we can say there are no places where we’ll do less”.

You can’t ‘eat’ equity, can you?

Companies are usually advised to standardize equity compensation, regardless of the candidate’s location. So, what should they do if people from one region openly request higher salaries at the expense of the offered equity? 

In Europe, people from towns just across the border can value equity compensation completely differently. It’s not just due to the local tax or legal regulations. Sometimes, it has more to do with cultural differences. 

Canva feels very strongly about the value creation that equity brings to the table. That's why Emily said her team's role is as much about educating as it is about crafting desirable compensation offers and practices.

This is the area Emily believes companies should be as thoughtful as they are future-minded. Even if it means creating separate plans for some specific strategic locations. 

Global mobility and how to approach it

Emily joined Canva in 2020, a year marked by limited global mobility.

However, from her previous experiences, she understood the necessity of designing programs that allow people to move around as they would normally prefer to do. 

You should strive to make the internal policies responsive to change. The key is to create an MVS that is simple, transparent, and crystal-clear. 

Emily pointed out that people who work on designing internal policies should consider taking work trips to experience the environment in which their international employees work. It helps develop an understanding of all the little differences that can make all the difference. 

What if you don’t have reliable comp market data? 

Sometimes, a company enters a market where there’s little to no reliable data about the local talent’s salary and compensation expectations. 

This is where Emily returned to equity compensation, stating that the available equity data in the US is bad - but that it’s almost non-existent outside the US. 

“Don’t try to boil the ocean” - said Emily. 

  • Use all the data and insights you have and start with that
  • Make sure you’re able to pivot after receiving feedback
  • Think about it from a regional perspective
  • Use foundational principles to make decisions
  • And - revisit these decisions over time 

Be nice to your talent acquisition department

Emily emphasized the importance of aligning the level of insight with the precision required when making such decisions.

Establish and maintain a strong relationship with talent acquisition. Tools like Compa and legacy market data providers can sometimes come in handy. Other times, you only have the feedback from your TA colleagues to draw from. 

What transparency truly means

The conversation naturally shifted to the markets experiencing higher volatility and unpredictable inflation. 

Emily suggested that companies need to know how critical these markets are to their operations. If they are, you should craft a solid, maintainable, and discrete minimum viable structure. 

Be transparent about the reasoning behind being able (and not being able) to offer certain things to talent residing in these markets. 

This also applies when employees from one market earn less than their colleagues from another market.

“People might not love the answer”, Emily said. But at least you can help them understand the reasoning clearly and transparently. 

The role of AI in compensation

There were a few interesting Q&A moments before the last topic of the day: the role of AI when it comes to the future of comp teams.  

Both Charlie and Emily agreed that the tech advancements introduce some truly exciting implications for the HR tech industry. They expect AI to have transformational implications, especially in helping the compensation pros make better decisions. 

About Emily Francis

Emily is a total rewards virtuoso with over a decade of experience across the Americas, APAC, and EMEA. Working as a consultant for WTW and an in-house pro for Facebook and Canva helped evolve her compensation and benefits skillset. 

Emily has designed foundational programs at Canva, helping the company scale from 750 to 4,500 “Canvanauts” spanning 15 countries since 2020. 

Watch (and rewatch) the full webinar with Emily here.

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