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Beginning Balance

Jul 28, 2023

Mark and Jesse discuss the process of setting compensation, salaries, bonuses, and communicating those effectively to the team. Compensation is a touchy subject. Businesses want to incentivize employees to perform at a high level and reduce turnover by compensating them well. Employees need to feel like they have space to grow their skills and capabilities in the organization, and be compensated accordingly. And many business owners want their employees to be happy and feel fairly compensated, out of care for the people they have grown close to and relied upon to build their business. Therein lies a minefield, however!


Jesse argues that compensation, including salary, benefits, and bonus, carries a lot of information and expectations. Business owners should set compensation based on market rates for a given role, discounted to what the business can afford (both what the business can afford to pay and what amount of turnover the business is willing to accept if they pay significantly under market). Business owners should NEVER compensate out of a sense of charity, generosity or to "share the wealth," epsecially with unplanned bonuses. While these things can seem great in the moment, they can cause serious confusion for employees. Why did I get this? How do I get it again? Should I expect this every year? If I don't get it next year, does that mean I'm performing poorly, or the business is doing poorly? There are many pitfalls to basing compensation on something other than the cold hard facts of market rates and clear job descriptions.


Mark Butler, Virtual CFO

The Money School: