Salary is no longer a taboo subject at Imfusio!

Written by Jérôme Labastie, on 23 January 2019

Until 2016, within the Imfusio firm, the level of employee compensation was determined by the founders without following a clear policy of allocation. And that didn't really amuse the employees, nor Yaël, one of the three founders, who had always wanted everyone to be able to determine their own salary. Seeing that the differences – known to all – were not necessarily justified, the decision was made to put the question of the compensation process in the hands of the collective...

At Imfusio, salary transparency is a given and has existed since the company's inception in 2005. All employees can access the pay slips of their colleagues, including those of the founding partners. These pay slips are simply accessible in a directory open to all!

In 2016, a new step was taken, with Yaël's desire to rethink Imfusio's compensation model.

"Money should be a conversation in the company" - Yaël, co-founder of Imfusio

The first attempt was bold: a meeting was organized for each employee to express their ideal salary level. The only instruction was to provide explanations without falling into justification. On paper, it's a great idea. But during the meeting, tensions rose and exchanges revealed negative feelings about existing salary levels.

After several difficult discussions, the "Imfusians" decided to standardize compensation by assigning the same salary level for similar profiles. This second attempt did not really convince them, and together they acknowledged that it would only be temporary. The reflection was just beginning.

The Imfusians realized that playing "sorcerer's apprentices" on a subject like compensation could be dangerous, as the relationship with money is not neutral and touches on very personal aspects (personality, beliefs, convictions, aspirations...).

Imfusio then decided to seek help from an expert on the matter, Christian Junod. This former banker (so we're told) is notably the author of the book "What Money Says About Us."

He accompanies the Imfusians through a seminar and individual coaching sessions to help them decipher their relationship with money and succeed in discussing it freely. The seminar is seen by the Imfusians as a "moment of collective grace," which inspires them to create the concept of "conscious recognition," since renamed "conscious recognition."

How does it work? Every quarter, the ritual of "conscious recognition" takes place, during which each Imfusian decides their level of salary, organization of their working time, fringe benefits, and training according to a well-established process. This decision must be made "consciously": aware of their individual needs, the company's situation, the needs of others, etc.

The "conscious recognition" process, orchestrated by a designated collaborator known as the "guardian," follows a specific framework:

  • Beforehand, key information is provided to everyone: current salary of each person and its evolution over time, bonuses, leave, financial health of the company and prospects, cash flow, etc. The company's payroll budget is also communicated.
  • During the meeting, a first round allows each person to express their aspirations in terms of compensation, training needs, organization of their working time... All requests are noted and displayed for everyone to see, and no one is allowed to react at this stage.
  • Then, everyone takes a break! The idea is to give everyone about twenty minutes to step back from the various requests, alone or in small groups.
  • Everyone is then reunited for a second round of about 30 minutes. Everyone then has the opportunity to express their opinions, feelings, clarify their initial request, or ask clarification questions.
  • A third roundtable discussion then allows each person to confirm their initial announcement or adjust it.
  • Finally, a last roundtable discussion is organized to express any necessary veto on one or more of the proposals. Decisions are then recorded, and a decision report is signed by all participants.

And if the company's results are not sufficient to increase the payroll budget? It has already happened that the Imfusians chose to reduce their salary level to overcome a difficult financial period.

And isn't there a risk of exceeding the salary budget limit needed to ensure the company's financial health? In practice, the sum of the requests has never reached the salary budget ceiling allocated to the exercise, and the Imfusians do not necessarily try to distribute the remaining budget.

As you can see, the Imfusians are resourceful and constantly improving their business model!