Offer them the Peter Thiel Deal (principle: try new shit all the time)
I remember at a board meeting at Powerset Peter Thiel asked us how the morale of the company was going. Like all founders at board meetings, we said it was going great.
Peter said “let’s prove it.”
What we did is offer the following:
- Anyone can voluntarily, permanently reduce their salary by one or more strata levels,
- For each competency level forfeited you get XX,XXX more ESOP shares.
By doing this we hypothesized that we could actually measure the excitement in the company by how many people took us up on the offer. To our great relief, a lot of people did. The company benefited by getting an improved information state at a critical moment in the company (like right before you ask them to walk into fire) and we also got to save cash flow. The employees benefited in that those that volunteered to do this got a lot of extra stock. Stock they may have either never gotten or would have had to wait years for as they moved up the ladder. We even had some employees attempt to give up their entire salary - we had to tell them that legally we had to pay them minimum wage - so that's what they did. It really felt good to have these types of problems.