"Offering employee equity arrangements is fairly standard practice amongst startups, and provides a sound incentive for your employees to stay around for the long haul."
That's right. Harmoney with Vision and Passion are HUGELY important, but talent needs to be paid somehow!
Offering a modest or even very small salary AND a percent ownership is the usual method to engage first hires.
I personally don't take on this kind of work often, but here is an example: In a current project, I am working to help a tech startup get funded and create a Minimally Viable Product. I get a few hundred dollars a month, AND 10% ownership of the company (2% vested each quarter until my ownership reaches 10% - which keeps me around for at least 5 quarters :)