ATTN Entrepreneurs: Want a New Problem to Fix? It’s Time to Tackle Benefits
Entrepreneurs see a problem and can’t help but fix it. It’s what we do. Even before most of us are labeled an entrepreneur, we’re driving our bosses crazy with new systems and ideas to improve broken processes. I know I was.
Whether I was a server in a restaurant reorganizing the bar for efficiency, or using Google AdWords in the early 2000s to sell more credit card machines, I’ve always loved using my head and technology to work smarter. Today, as CMO and VP of Sales at Powered by Search, that’s what I get paid to do—fix problems. And I love it.
At Powered by Search, everyone takes on tasks outside of their traditional role. It’s up to every single employee to make the company better, more profitable, and the only way to have folks in the seats equipped to innovate, to make smart decisions, is to hire A players. We are fanatical about making sure our employees are set up for success and that we give them everything they can to be their very best.
Benefits are just one of those buckets you must have if you expect to have the very, very best team. And if you don't start taking care of some of these fundamentals—like good pay, employee health, plenty of time off—your team won’t be equipped to perform at their best. However, having benefits isn’t enough. You need to have the right benefits, for your people and your company.
Traditions Are Made to Be Broken
Several years ago, we, like most companies, had a very traditional benefits plan. The problem with these types of plans, though, is you spend an enormous amount of money regardless of if your employees use them—and our employees were definitely not using them. The numbers were horrible. Something like only 30% of employees were taking advantage of their benefits. It was a lot like giving someone unlimited vacation.
There are a lot of startups that offer unlimited vacations, but what we discovered is that when we tried this, nobody ever took vacation. But when we altered our policy to give everyone five weeks off, they actually started using their vacation days. When you stack five weeks and properly teach them how to use their five weeks, you know they're getting a good break every quarter or month. And you need that mental refresh to do your very best work.
Benefits are the same way—we want our employees to use them. So, when one of our A players from HR, Edita Lorick, noticed we were paying a ton of money for benefits that no one was using, she set out to discover a better way.
Give Them What They Want: Options & Simplicity
One thing we realized during this process is that everybody's needs are completely different, and the problem with a lot of traditional packages is that they are very specific when it comes to what you can spend your money on. We wanted to change that. If an employee wants to spend their benefits on a nutritionist or a counseling or whatever, it’s their choice, and we wanted to give them the freedom to make that choice.
Another big check box on our list of requirements for a new benefits provider was ease of use. In the past, we had heard from employees just how painful the whole reimbursement process was. They’d have to save their paper receipts, mail in a cheque—which in this day in age is ridiculous—and then wait forever to get their money. We wanted to give them a system that harnessed technology in the same way our company does, to make their lives easier. Plus, given that our employee demographics skew younger (an average of 25–35), we wanted a benefits program that was as smart and slick as every other product they use.
After extensive research, Edita said she’d discovered the perfect solution, one that had the flexibility, technology, and price point we were looking for. Her solution? League.
League makes it so easy for our employees to use their benefits. Through their simple app, employees can keep track of receipts and submit their expenses with a touch of a button. The whole process is light years ahead of what we had before.
League also gives our employees the freedom to use their benefits as they see fit. We went with their Peace of Mind Plan (POMP) plus a Health Savings Account (HSA), and employees finally started using their benefits on the things that mattered for them. It didn't cost us more, we were just getting more value. Now that employees can decide how they want to use their benefits—and get push notifications to remind them to use them—over 92% of employees are reaping the benefits of their HSA. And these perks are what help build an A team.
Want to Attract the Best? Give Them the Best
Every CEO wants the best people. We’re no different. We hunt down top talent from all over the country, but when you’re trying to attract the best, they expect the best. If we pitch them on archaic benefits and paper forms, how can we expect to win those A players? And as important, how can we keep the best?
We use OfficeVibe to measure employee engagement, and our scores are currently in the top 10%. Those amazing numbers are a testament to our culture, and a big part of that culture is doing what's right for our employees. That's why we wanted to re-examine benefits.
We know we need to do those things—take care of those fundamentals—so we can actually focus on real problems, real business problems. We don’t want employees to have to worry about if they’re covered in case of an illness or fret about affording medication. We want our people performing at their best, and that’s why at Powered by Search, we give them the best.