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Dear Work Therapist: non-financial compensation


How do I compensate my early team members in my start-up without making anyone feel undervalued when we are not making any money yet ? Should I give equal equity or distribute equity according to workload ?If its according to workload , how do I measure that ?


they all do the same work tasks?

pay them about the complexity and needed work skills for their job, like most companies do

maybe using OKR and giving value points or something like that?

Hana Kučerová Community Leader Jul 26, 2021

Hi @Victor Kenneth ,

have you tried to ask your team, what they expect? 

About the measurement - I would also let the whole team discuss and decide, how valuable is each member of the team.

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Hi, @Victor Kenneth

I'm glad you're thinking about how best to appreciate and engage with your team. That's paramount for retention and limiting burnout. 

As far as compensation goes, that can mean a wide range of things.

  • Some people are incentivized by money, which I know your startup may not have yet.
  • Others appreciate title changes during performance reviews, and in your case, perhaps awards with titles that recognize personalized efforts might be more appropriate.
  • There are also ways to publicly acknowledge team members who surpassed output expectations, who brought the team together, or who implemented new processes. It can be acknowledgement alone that can make the difference, especially if it's frequent and personalized.
  • Or since it sounds like you want to motivate teammates to do more of the great work they're already doing, perhaps expanding their portfolio to have an even greater impact can demonstrate your confidence in their work.
  • Not every team enjoys socializing with each other or swag, but those who do like those perks might appreciate connecting their good work back to the team.

Like @Hana Kučerová mentioned, you might want to get a sense for what individuals say motivates them. Without asking, you may not be able to know for sure. In that way, you won't have to worry about "equal" compensation because compensation can take very personal forms. And in whatever way you ultimately choose, money does not have to be the sole way to encourage more good work.

Good luck and let us know what you end up doing!

Like Stephanie Grice likes this
Liam Green Community Leader Jul 30, 2021

I think just be as honest and open as possible - secrecy around pay and reward is always a huge problem for people

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

I agree with @Christine P_ Dela Rosa  and @Hana Kučerová , you should talk to them. As you're still start-up, it won't take so much time probably.

The problem with the motivation is that you need to work on it individually...

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nina_schmidt Community Leader Aug 12, 2021

I think it is a mix between @Liam Green and @Martin Bayer _MoroSystems_ s_r_o__  but for sure every wrong step could be huge problem.... 

It is the same with colleagues that started as apprentice and stayed in the company compared to new recruited experts sometimes.

I'd definitely suggest having a way of sharing expectations and wishes instead of you trying to figure out what'd be best. That's easier to manage especially before the team evolves into a bigger one. Good luck!


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