Chapter 4

Expert Insights

Learn how virtual school Prisma decided to use a location-based compensation strategy to pay their team members.
Kristen Shroff, CEO at Prisma

1. Please tell me about Prisma.

Prisma is the world’s most engaging virtual school that combines a supportive community and personalized coaching with an innovative curriculum that brings out kids’ love of learning and prepares them to thrive in the rapidly changing world of the future. We currently serve learners in grades 4-10 across 34 US states and 7 countries. We currently have 20 team members total.

2. What are Prisma’s values?

  • We’re gutsy: We are unafraid to speak up, take risks and think differently.
  • We’re humble: We are quick to give credit and slow to pass blame.
  • We're 'can do': We are optimists who bring solutions, not problems, and always find a way.
  • We’re team players: We care about, respect, help and speak candidly with each other.
  • We’re driven: We go above and beyond to achieve our mission.

3. Why did your company decide to create a remote work compensation policy?

At Prisma, we have team members from all over the US (and a few outside the US), and as we started to grow we needed a policy that was consistent and fair. 

4. What remote work compensation strategy did you choose?

Location-based salaries. In most cases, teacher salaries are public info – you can look it up for any district in the country, so we pay our learning coaches the same salary they would be making in the public district in which they live. In addition, we offer benefits like flexibility, remote work, and meeting-free Fridays. These are the kinds of benefits you wouldn’t have as a teacher (in a traditional school), so we feel confident that Prisma provides a way better overall compensation package compared to similar alternatives. 

5. What considerations did you look at while developing the strategy?

We considered a location-agnostic model, but we wanted to attract the best possible teachers. In a location-agnostic model we’d have to pay everyone the same. Because our financial model assumes a certain average for teacher salaries, we wouldn’t have been able to attract people in higher-cost-of-living areas. Offering location-based salaries helps us stay within budget and attract high quality talent from anywhere. 
“Offering location-based salaries helps us stay within budget and attract high quality talent from anywhere.”Kristen Shroff, CEO at Prisma

6. What went well during implementation – and what needed to be improved?

We implemented this last year and everything has gone well. Our team reports feeling compensated fairly and we’ve never had anyone leave because of compensation. As we grow, some people in lower cost of living areas might feel they’d want to be paid as much as people in higher cost of living areas – this is a challenge we’ll address on an individual basis. If employees move, we do adjust to a higher cost of living, but we don’t adjust down.
“If employees move, we do adjust to a higher cost of living, but we don't adjust down.”Kristen Shroff, CEO at Prisma

7. Any other takeaways from implementing this process?

It’s hard to find something that feels fair to everybody but is financially sustainable. We’re happy with the policy we have, for now, but that doesn't mean we won’t consider changing it in the future. Our number one priority is that our team is happy and feels valued. 
Next Chapter
Location-agnostic remote pay model
Learn what a location-agnostic pay model is and its pros and cons.
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