Worker coops, how are you dealing with salaries / profit sharing among members? Here’s how we do it at Sofi
Sofi Coop is almost 3 years into its business activity, and we’re looking to optimize our profit sharing methods. Here’s what we do, with some pros and cons we’ve encountered. We’d love to know about how are y’all dealing with this issue in your worker coops.
We’re a Jerusalem based software development coop, offering UX/UI design, programming and management services for social and environmental projects. Things are going well - people are generally happy with their work experience and we’re seeing a significant growth every year.
Shortly: Every member reports her actual worktime. We have a set, equal hourly rate for everyone. Every month you get the current hourly rate * your reported hours. Every few months we raise the general hourly rate.
Why is this our method?
We’re into maximum equality. We figure that everybody’s time and financial needs are equally important, regardless of what is being produced. If a member’s production level is below a certain agreed standard, and attempts to change that has failed, she will be asked to leave. Otherwise, we want to pay equally to every member, so that everybody can meet their economical needs, with no exceptions.
We’re also into maximum freedom. We don’t use any restrictions, fines, punishments or hard management talks to control our members. We’re trying to form a work evironment in which trust and good will are the primary sources of motivation. We have limits, but we rather adjust the coop to match the member needs, than to force members to do stuff they don’t want to do, or to work in ways they don’t want to work in. So if somebody wants to code only 2 hours a day, or take a 3 months vacation, we’ll adjust and add another team member to keep up with the project needs.
At the same time, we are implementing a lesson from the Israeli Kibbutz - which is a kind of socialist/communist agricultural villages where everyone gets (or were supposed to get) an equal access to food, houses and other Kibbutz resources. In those settelments there was an issue with people who got the resources they needed but didn’t contribute enough productive work. This was a source for tension that later on weakened (among other issues) relationships and structures to the degree of almost total privatization.
Right now our solution is an equal hourly rate as described above. We deal with the production rate differences, and in return get a peaceful profit sharing process, with almost no discussion over personal raises, payment comparissons or unfair wealth ditirbution.
Everybody feels their time is equally important. My needs are (generally) similar to yours, even if I’m cleaning the toilet and you’re doing marketing.
A smooth, peaceful profit sharing process with little to no disagreements or related difficult feelings.
Self reporting of work hours provides transparency and data on all of the active processes, with exactly how much time every action required.
Measuring your work in exact minutes / hours isn’t all pleasant for everybody. We find hourself in a somewhat strict situation where breaks doesn’t count as work. In terms of an optimal workplace experiences, just focusing on your task until it’s done might feel better than recording more worktime.
Your productivity level and work quality doesn’t affect you salary. Even if you do a brilliant move and solve a 10 hours problem in one hour, you won’t get more profit personally. We do aspire to do a good job so that the whole coop will grow and everybody will get a raise. But for those of us who is producing more but have less total workhours per month, things can feel a bit weird sometimes.
We know our model is very different from what’s being practiced in today’s market, even among coops. Well, that’s the point. We’re looking for a payment model that will support maximum equallity, maximum freedom and mainly - maximum happiness, with minimum compromises.
What are your thoughts?