Most employers are battling for top talent—especially in light of the “Great Resignation.” While raising salaries could be part of the answer, Lawyerist recognizes a better place to start is with a compensation philosophy. That’s why last quarter, Lawyerist’s leadership team clarified our company’s compensation philosophy. A compensation philosophy provides transparency to the team on our compensation model.  

Why You Need a Compensation Philosophy

Many team members have preconceived notions about how they assume compensation works. They’ve heard things like “you should get a raise every year” and then apply those notions to their current job. For example, an employee might assume they should receive a raise on their work anniversary. The employer may have a policy to only make salary adjustments on January 1. When the company doesn’t give this employee a raise on their work anniversary, the employee might jump to the wrong conclusion.

As Stephanie Everett, Lawyerist’s CEO, explained, “a compensation philosophy gets everyone on the same page. It’s a clear statement about how the company makes compensation decisions, when to expect compensation changes, and why it would change.”

This is on par with a growing trend for companies to be transparent on pay issues. For example, Buffer adopted an “open salary” policy to be more transparent with their team.

Lawyerist’s Small-but-Mighty Philosophy

At Lawyerist, every member of our team embodies our “small team but we can do big things and change the world” attitude. While we can’t offer the same cash and benefits as big firms, we make up for it with a supportive work environment, flexibility, and tons of fun. In other words, we don’t need to pay hazard pay for a toxic work environment. 

Our compensation philosophy is to pay everyone on the team a fair wage for their work and based on what similarly-situated companies pay. We use job classifications and pay ranges because this helps create pay equity among employees.  

Lawyerist also believe in sharing the company’s financial success with the team. We know that every member of the team contributes to this success. While someone’s base salary compensates them for their day-to-day contribution, their profit-sharing bonus is akin to the dividend they receive for being a bought-in member of our team. 

We set aside 10% of the company’s profits into a profit-sharing bonus pool. Because everyone on our team contributes, everyone gets an equal share of the profit bonus pool. In other words, if we make $10,000 in profit, we’d put 10% ($1,000) into the bonus pool, and if there are ten people on the team, everyone gets $100. 

Each month, we review our profitability and the factors influencing the results at our team meeting. This allows team members to understand how our business operates. Team members become invested in our success. 

You can hear Stephanie Everett discuss a different way to approach bonuses on The Lawyerist Podcast, episode #360, Leading Your Team with Empathy, with Sherry Deutschmann.

Benefits Are the Secret Sauce for Employee Retention

Traditionally, employers limited their thinking on benefits to health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off policies. The reality is that companies can be more creative about their benefits because it’s a great way to show your firm’s core values in action, build team culture, and reward team members. 

For example, companies that have physical offices can offer everything from weekly team meals to having bicycles available at the office so team members can take an afternoon ride. 

At Lawyerist, we wanted to make sure that our benefits supported our team’s core values. We believe a healthy business requires a healthy team. 

Lawyerist’s Team’s Benefits Models The Way

How does Lawyerist do it? Here’s a quick overview of our team benefits:

  • Retirement Matching. This one’s pretty straightforward—we match up to 3% of each team member’s salary when they’re eligible to participate in our Simple IRA program.
  • Health Reimbursement. We want team members to stay physically and mentally healthy. We reimburse team members for individual health insurance premiums and approved out-of-pocket expenses. 
  • Mental Health Through Spill. Our partnership with Spill allows our team members to connect with a therapist for direct support. Spill provides resources and training so employees can learn about relevant mental health topics. The online tool gives us a way to take our team’s pulse through an online check-in.  
  • Home Office Budget. We’re a remote-first team so that we can hire the best team members no matter where they live. Our team loves the flexibility working remotely offers. We do ask that everyone have a quiet, dedicated workspace where they can focus and work effectively. Each year, we provide a home office budget so our team can deck out their home office or buy supplies.
  • Home Data and Cell Phone Allowance. We appreciate team members using their home internet and personal phone for work-related activities. So, we cover a portion of our team member’s high-speed internet and phone data plans.
  • Paid Time Off. We want employees to take vacation and sick time. Time away from work is necessary to have engaged, growth-oriented team members. We discourage team members from working during time off, and we respect their time away by not reaching out. We close our office eight days each year to celebrate holidays. In addition, team members accrue another five weeks of paid time off. We incentivize them to take leave throughout the year.  
  • Extended Leave. Team members generally use extended leave to welcome a new family member, tend to a sick or older family member, or take care of themselves after an accident or illness. Team members receive up to six weeks paid time off. They also have the option of structuring an additional 12 weeks of flex time or time away. 
  • Professional Development. One of our core values is “grow as people.” That’s why we provide a professional development allowance. This allows team members to attend professional conferences, participate in professional groups or communities, and take relevant online courses. We also love a good business book and happily and routinely supply books to team members.  
  • Team Travel and Fun. As a remote team, we must make space to connect in person too. We invite our entire team to a special annual retreat in a fun location. Sure, we get some work planning done, but we also enjoy the opportunity for some great food and fun activities.  
  • Personal Financial Advisor. We hope every team member is intentional with their finances. This means having a solid plan for their future, and building wealth through smart financial planning and decisions. That’s why we encourage team members to meet with a company-sponsored financial advisor. The financial advisor is available to help with mortgages, budgeting, savings, insurance, retirement planning, and more.
  • Dreams Fulfilled. We know our team chooses to work with us, and we are extremely grateful. Our leadership team gifts employees Dream Credits on their work anniversay. Dream credits recognize a team member’s commitment to us. They are our way of helping team members realize a dream or do something they might not otherwise do. So far, team members have used Dream Credits to take a blacksmithing class, get pampered at the spa, try their hand at pottery, and go on a personal retreat to a wellness retreat center. 

A team’s compensation philosophy and model is a company’s secret weapon to employee engagement. Team members want to understand expectations and how they can advance and contribute to the firm’s success. A compensation philosophy is a component that allows the company to be transparent and have honest conversations with employees. 

Visit our About Us page for more on our team and values.

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Last updated February 8th, 2022