An Argentine software company aims to treat employees with transparency, from sharing profits among staff to asking them to set the salaries of others.
Imagine a business meeting where you discuss who gets paid what: whether Dave in IT deserves that raise, or if Carol in HR should wait another month to post a grade.
A software developer based in Buenos Aires 10 pines – who shares 50 percent of the profits with his staff – ‘rate meetings’ are a reality. And while they may seem like the kind of staff you meet with the potential to cause embarrassment, the founders of the company believe their radical approach is paying off.
“We try to find an answer to the classic problem in our industry: people who do the same job but earn different salaries,” said 10Pines co-founder Jorge Silva. “Often times, a new entrant starts out with a higher salary than existing employees. They may be urgently needed or just better at negotiating. We try to eliminate that injustice: if you do the same work, you can expect the same salary ”.
“There are no hidden numbers – our employees can see where the money is going.”
High staff turnover is another problem in the software industry, and changing jobs is seen as a standard tactic to take advantage of salary increases. “We have tried to build trust and commitment to an open book policy,” Silva said. “There are no hidden numbers – our employees can see where the money is going.”
The 10Pines staff meet monthly to discuss important decisions, and all but new entrants who are on “probation” meet three times a year to discuss payment. They can present themselves for a raise or they can be nominated by a mentor. Silva said an employee has never faced a pay cut, but explained how a newcomer agreed to start with a lower pay after an open discussion about his skill level. On the other hand, there are examples of employees saying no to a raise, if they don’t feel it is justified.
10Pines co-founder Jorge Silva calls the company’s approach ‘sociocracy’. Image: 10Pins
For prospective employees, the final stage of the interview process means meeting with the entire team of up to 80 employees. “Usually there will be 40 to 50 people there,” Silva said. “They can participate in the process of having a new coworker.”
Silva said that the ideas of 10Pines, inspired by the experience of Brazilian businessman Ricardo Semler (as explained in his book, Dissident!) – they are catching up with other companies in Argentina. Silva is happy to help out. “I know we are in a radical position,” he accepted. “But we are helping them to start thinking about salaries or how they make decisions. We are helping them to have a healthier environment at work ”.
Lead Image: Antonio Janeski