What do you get when a compensation plan prioritizes a thriving life?

A Thriving Lifestyle Compensation Philosophy creates more than just a paycheque for our growing team.

What do you get when a compensation plan prioritizes a thriving life?

About a year ago the People Team at DrugBank sat down and had a long conversation about the kind of workplace we want to have. We’re a relatively young and steadily growing company, in fact, we’ve more than tripled in size since 2020. As we chatted, our team recognized that we were at an important junction and the work we were about to undertake would not only be an investment in DrugBank’s success, but in the success and wellbeing of every single one of our team members.

So we got down to work. We talked about all sorts of things, from inclusivity and diversity, to pay transparency and mid-day MarioKart meetings, and what we kept coming back to was wanting an environment where our team can thrive–both at work and in their personal lives.

With thriving in mind we started to look at everything we do for our team in a bit of a different light. We looked at who we hire, how we onboard, our compensation packages, and even our physical office space, remote work policies, and our team sweatshirts. We then started asking how we could do even more to intentionally foster a thriving lifestyle for every single DrugBanker.

While we have had staff tell us that they’d do this job for free (haha!) we know that when it comes down to it getting paid is a big part of why we all spend 35 plus hours a week at a job.

So we started by introducing a Healthy Living Wage.

For us, this means that no one in our company starts with a salary less than $51k a year. We took a lot of care arriving at this number, and it’s one that we’ll continue to evaluate and reassess as time goes on. The simple math is that we looked at what life costs in Edmonton (our home base), what a living wage is for an individual, and added a bit of a cushion. Essentially we want our staff to be able to live well, with room for savings and fun, regardless of their role.

While a solid paycheque is important, it isn’t the be-all-end-all to a thriving life. And that’s where our Thriving Lifestyle Compensation Philosophy shines. We’re working to establish a comprehensive package and approach to employment that really works for our whole team.

To start we wanted to recognize that we don’t have all the answers, but we are committed to trying things out and iterating as we learn. At all times, we want to focus on doing what is best for our team.

In defining DrugBank’s Thriving Lifestyle Compensation Philosophy, we believe in:

Competitive Total Compensation. We believe that there’s a lot more to work than just a good paycheck, so we strive to create a great work environment where our team feels:

  • Ownership over their work and role
  • Flexibility in how, where, and when they work
  • Meaningful relationships and traditions
  • Opportunities to grow and advance
  • Support from leadership
  • Investment in their development
  • Commitment to their wellbeing
  • Encouraged to have fun

Paying a healthy living wage that can support a thriving life. We strive to compensate at or above market rates and regularly audit and adjust what we offer.

Rewarding exceptional performance. We take every opportunity to reward and celebrate team members who are shining bright at work.

Being equitable. We believe in equal pay for equal work. Pay transparency. We commit to sharing pay bands for each role and level of role internally and in our job postings.

With our principles set, we started to put them into action. Here are a few highlights we’re quite proud of:

  • We are remote-first
  • Nearly 40% of our team live outside of Edmonton, with team members calling four Canadian provinces and 10 cities home.
  • We’ve got a stronghold of staff in Edmonton, Vancouver, and Ottawa.
  • A handful of our Edmonton staff have even relocated to cities they’ve always wanted to live in, and we love that for them!
  • Every DrugBanker starts with more than 40 days of paid time off every year.
  • In addition to vacation days, provincial and national holidays, and closing the week between Christmas and the New Year, we also offer personal days (which are kind of like bonus days for our staff to use however they like), and quarterly Rest and Rejuvenation Days where we shut our (digital) doors so that everyone gets a day off.
  • Unlimited mental health and sick days
  • We take staff wellbeing seriously, like really seriously. Whether it’s mental or physical health, we know that you can’t do good work if you aren’t well, so we offer unlimited no-questions-asked sick days.
  • Annual work from home stipend
  • Whether you want to cover your internet bill, fund your coffee addiction, or buy a really comfy new office chair, we’re here to help.
  • Annual professional development budget
  • We want our staff to learn and grow so we provide every DrugBanker with a budget, and then we make sure they use it.
  • Company-paid family benefits
  • To make sure that our staff, and their families, are always healthy and taken care of, we offer an extensive benefits package.
  • This includes company-paid family benefits while on parental leave.
  • Employee share options
  • We want our team to reap the rewards of helping us grow. Employee share options help us reward the hard work of our team in the long term.
  • We gender-code all of our job postings to feminine-neutral
  • This has been shown to increase the diversity of applicants, which is good for everyone.

But we’re not done dreaming yet. We have our eyes keenly focused on the future and will continue to find new ways to support our team.

We’ve brought together a team of science-loving, coffee-drinking, funny, smart, experienced, and creative folks that all share a common purpose: to solve challenging problems using data-driven decision-making. We believe in supporting the growth of each and every one of them, in helping them make an impact in their work and on the world, and ensuring they are happy, healthy, and engaged for the long term.

We don’t just want to be a great place to work. We want to be a great place for our team to build a life they love.

We know we aren’t the experts here and we’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us. So, in the wise words of Brene Brown, we’re not here to be right, we’re here to get it right.

We would love to hear from you about what’s worked in your organizations, what you read that you’re loving, and especially what you saw that you think we got wrong. We are committed to this journey and to making DrugBank the best place for our team.