TerraCycle’s been around for almost 10 years, and our current business model (collecting non-recyclable waste from schools and organizations and converting it into usable products and materials) is almost 5 years old, but in many ways we still run very much like a start-up.

One area where that is definitely true is compensation.

We pay firmly under market rates across the board, don’t have traditional perks and 2011 was the first year we had health benefits. Yet we’ve built a committed, energetic and positive team that has allowed the company to expand to 19 countries and see double-digit growth year over year.

Here are some of the things we’ve done to keep team morale up when salaries aren’t:

  1. Build an environment that empowers every team member. We make sure our team knows they truly own their work and can take on interesting or challenging projects goes a long way towards providing personal fulfillment.
  2. Be fully transparent. Always communicate with your team about financial goals and the reality of when to expect salary adjustments.
  3. Make work a place to play. Our office is unlike any othereverything is made from waste, it’s covered in graffiti and any given morning could include a spontaneous Nerf gun battle, testing a cool new product made from waste or having a local elementary school drop by for a tour. Pair this with a flexible PTO policy and it beats working in a traditional office for almost everyone.

It’s an ongoing challengewhat are some of the ways YOU keep morale up when salaries aren’t?