Compensation Philosophies We Love & Why, Part 2

See how these two startups attract and retain top talent through transparency

In part one of this new series, we explored a collection of publicly shared compensation philosophies we love and why.

Let's keep the transparency drum beat going with additional inspiration.

Afterwards, we'll also use each mini case study as a jumping off point for recommendations/questions to help you develop your philosophy and keep your team aligned with its total rewards vision.

Almanac 

Almanac is a collaborative document editor for remote teams that replaces Google Docs & Microsoft Word. Their product helps people organize and collaborate on work without meetings.

They’ve created a compensation philosophy to support their ability to hire the right kinds of employees who can help them achieve their mission: To take the work out of work through a cloud-based platform for open source docs. Awesome!

You’ll love their public facing Compensation Philosophy, as part of their handbook:

When we offer incentives, we believe in rewarding company performance over team, and team performance over individual employee performance. Our product and business model relies on integrated, interlocking contributions, and thus we are codependent on one another for success. We hope this compensation policy incentivizes our team members to help each other out rather than shine on their own.
For us, transparency does not mean sharing every detail around pay, like a public spreadsheet of salaries. It means giving our team members a clear line of sight into why they make what they make.
We believe how you choose to spend your time, in work and in life, is a more consequential decision than any compensation plan we could provide you in exchange for it. You can, and we hope will, exponentially increase your wealth by working at Almanac. But our goal is to make every minute you spend with us worth it.

Bullet number two is really interesting. This likely manifests itself by them publishing their bands and the relationship between company performance and the employee's position in the band.

Almanac’s approach to collaboration and teamwork is also outstanding. They truly walk the walk when it comes to teamwork. They even use the word “codependent” in a way that sounds healthy, useful and purposeful. But they also set boundaries. Almanac focuses on the why over the what, which is ultimately what motivates employees to work smart and stick around for the long term.

Are you considering all the groups your total rewards program impacts in the organization? Will your compensation philosophy establish a single source of truth for decisions that all teams can rely on?

Buffer

Buffer is a remarkably small but agile startup that builds software to manage your social media. They have millions of small business customers, and are notable for their fair pay brand.

Their salaries have been transparent since 2013, and earned a lot of media attention and startup love for being transparent in their financial dealings.

Check out their Compensation Philosophy, with several notable points below:

We view compensation and benefits as the set of tools that empower our teammates to bring their best to Buffer so that we can share that same generosity in service of our customers.
We pay above market to attract the team we need, thrive as individuals, and avoid exceptions and inequity resulting from negotiation.
Every base salary at Buffer is derived from our salary formula. The formulaic approach minimizes biased decisions about compensation. This has been a valuable tool to ensure our awareness of any gender wage gap since our salary formula is rooted in objective market factors applied consistently across the team. 

Another key element from this is that they are formula driven. Buffer doesn’t treat salary or total rewards as the be all and end all, but the fuel for something larger. Read any of their content and it’s clear just how energized their team is. And not just about social media, about this larger mission around transparency and equity.

Has your organization crafted a rewards strategy that reflects its own mission and character? If your employees were compensated more equitably, might they deliver a customer experience that matches their own experience in the organization?

Let’s recap our learnings. Based on these four case studies, here’s what we recommend as your company communicates its compensation program:

  1. Set a goal to dedicate the time, energy, attention and intention and nail your comp philosophy.
  1. Identify what role you want compensation to play. Will you pay for performance? Incentivize performance? Do you want to have it be part of a holistic approach to employment that sells the whole company experience? 
  1. Be proactive instead of reactive in eliminating confusion about what your company means by the language you use around pay.
  1. Build your total rewards program around fairness and sustainability.
  1. Secure permissions access around certain comp data so sensitive info is protected.
  1. Allow your organization to iterate its philosophy as needs evolve.

Ultimately, many of Pave’s startup clients are not public companies yet, and they often tap our Implementation Managers and Customer Success Managers about best practices when it comes to compensation programs.

Our team has a wealth of perspective and resources, as we have visibility into a wide range of comp philosophies ranging from Series A startups to public organizations. We love geeking out on comp and talking to the scale and different comp philosophies at different stages of company growth.

Want to officialize your compensation philosophy and build a compelling total rewards program without spreadsheets? Schedule a demo with Pave today. Together we’ll help your talent dream big about their future.