July Lessons Part 3: Really Invest in Personal Equity!

Abundance Accountability Respect


Over the month of July, I will share lessons learned from my ATB journey, post my retirement announcement effective Aug. 1. The accomplishments and extraordinary results at ATB over six plus years belong to many. However, the learnings I will share are exclusively mine. I hope you will find them thought provoking, and perhaps even instructive.

Story: When you’re the Chief People Officer, one of the big responsibilities revolves around compensation. Pay and benefits are often the biggest single expense in any organization. It takes on even greater meaning when one considers this line item as an investment, rather than exclusively as an expense. How does the company get the best possible return for its investment?

Early in 2012/13, we began to introduce the concept of PERSONAL EQUITY into the organization. We knew that the promise of job security was an outdated principle. Heck, we could hardly predict what types of jobs might exist versus offer any employment guarantee. However, we could commit to peoples’ future state becoming better in every way until their very last date of work, whenever that might be. So we chose to make a statement to team members by challenging ourselves to create the best personal equity plan including, but not limited to, the greatest pension savings program ANYWHERE.  

Key Point: Every organization I’ve ever worked at shares one common viewpoint: People would like to be paid more! If you limit compensation to pay and benefits, it can often become an unsatisfactory and relentless chase of market comparison. However, by investing in PERSONAL EQUITY, the lens regarding regarding total compensation becomes much wider. Employees want and need fair pay and benefits. But what if the health benefits feel like they are made just for your situation? What if job experiences, and advancement opportunities are abundant? What if learning, formal and informal is plentiful? What if the leadership treats you like a self-accountable, autonomous adult? What if you are in a highly inclusive, cognitive and identity rich environment? What if there is a commitment to everyones’ financial, physical, emotional, spiritual and experiential well-being? What if the company made the following statement and acted accordingly? “People have the right to have great leaders.” And yes, what if the pension/savings plan was the best in the universe regarding personalization and company matching? With that overall strategy of PERSONAL EQUITY and total compensation, the ability to attract top talent accelerates. The best and brightest people seek that out. During my tenure we have had a few people leave primarily for pay, only to want to find a way back to more personal equity, and ultimately achieve a higher individual return.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Think of investing in people compensation as a comprehensive PERSONAL EQUITY SYSTEM, rather than revolving narrowly along pay/benefits.
  2. At the same time, get highly creative and personal regarding base pay and benefits. Find a scalable and equitable way to customize them for each person. 

Personal Equity and Personal Leadership,


One Millennial View: Of course money is an extremely important and necessary currency, but I’ve also come to realize that currency has many forms, not just monetary. Health, communication, culture, goals, time, knowledge, experiences, relationships, and others are also significant types of currency. So, while a great salary is desirable, it isn’t everything. A interesting one-liner I’ve heard is, “rich people have the same nightmares, just on a higher thread count.” I’m willing to bet the better the overall personal equity, the fewer nightmares.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis