It's time to dump 'perks'
Now there's a statement. Are benefits really dead?
We made some changes recently to our 'benefits' based on the assumption that not everyone would see everything as a benefit, instead wanting something different instead.
When i talk about benefits, I absolutely do not mean those statutory employment entitlements like annual leave, workplace pension, tea and coffee... It goes without saying that every employer has to provide those. It's against the law not to. So no benefits there.
I'm talking about the useful and valuable benefits that are discretionary but make up a vital part of the colleague proposition.
Our review of our own benefits threw up some interesting outcomes.
From benefits to rituals
We started by changing the language. To change our mind state around the word benefit, we wanted something more reflective of 'it's just how we do things around here' - so the description 'Rituals' was born.
We wanted to create a set of rituals that supported Be Happy. Be Human.
and also that added real value to the experience of being at work.
We had to find a happy balance for rituals that would work for those working remotely and in the office, so that nobody felt left out.
We looked at what each of our legacy benefits meant, what they were designed to achieve and what they were costing. We used that information to come up with a new set of rituals - some with a familiar tone and others that were a real investment for us as a business. We had some pre-determined criteria that we wanted measure any improvement or change against. That criteria was:
colleague wellbeing needed to be at the front of every decision
reducing or maintaining cost without reducing value
ensuring that human connection remained at the core of our business
So we came up with some important changes, that our team loved, and meant that we could continue to be as innovative and creative as possible with the value attached to our rituals.
Let's have a look at them.
Nothing groundbreaking here, but for us this ritual was important to get right. We used to have 'Last Week's Lunch' where we would go out (or get takeaway during pandemic times) and enjoy lunch together in the office. We'd already decided that we would rather use the budget for that for something else, but the premise of the original benefit was that we would all sit down together, enjoy lunch and chat about things not connected to work. An opportunity to stop and regroup and refresh relationships.
Our new team lunch carries on that tradition. Many of us eat at different times and take varying degrees of breaks. We've all agreed that our lunch ritual, once or twice a month, will mean that we all eat our lunch together and take a full and meaningful break. Human connection is at our core, so we know the value in this one already. No fancy restaurants, no takeaways... we just all bring our lunch to the same spot and chat.
Health Cover & EAP
We have all learned valuable lessons about what is important over the last few years. We wanted to do something that would mean that colleagues would get health cover and would access to lots of wellbeing support in case they ever needed it.
We invested the money that our previous lunch ritual would have cost into this. Hopefully we will never need to call on it, but if we do then we can be confident that things are all taken care of.
Well, this is going nowhere! Enough said. Gin on the shelf, tonic and ice in the fridge. Have it when you want it. Maybe not for breakfast...
It provides us with a way to wind down and spend time together outside of the business of the client work we complete. It's a great way to get clients involved in our office life too!
Fika is the Scandinavian tradition that is growing over here. An opportunity to chill and chat, we've decided to have a range of Fika moments through the month. It might be a nice breakfast buffet in the office one morning or a cuppa and slice of delicious cake one afternoon.
The benefit of a short break to stop, check in and chat can never be underestimated. We added the 15 to dedicate that amount of time out of our schedules every now and then.
The Beach Box
It's the summer! Our office is only a 3 minute walk from the best part of the beach in Brighton. So why not take some time out to enjoy it? We've provided towels, lotion, water bottles and bags so colleagues can grab them, enjoy their lunch break on the beach and not have to worry about bringing a whole load of kit into the office.
Sometimes you aren't feeling on your full game. Sometimes your wellbeing would benefit from taking a short time out. These days give people an opportunity to say 'I've got no meetings today and i need to recharge'. A free day off. Why? Well, why not?
There are a few little rules around this one, but they are there to be used and we actively encourage people to make the most of them.
The Gift of Christmas
We've all been there - enforced closure over Christmas but you will need to take your holidays at the time - removing the element of choice over your holiday dates. We've always offered the Christmas period off. Guaranteed from Christmas Eve to the first working day of the New Year - that time is taken care of. A gift from Acceler8 to our colleagues.
I know that our rituals will continue to grow and develop over time. We all know that what works brilliantly now, may not work so well in a few months time. The beach box might need to be blankets and hot chocolate come October...
Not a benefit or a perk in sight. These are all rituals.
It's just the way we do things around here. If we can achieve this in a small business, imagine what you can achieve in yours.