You Can Keep Your Fro Yo, I'll Take My PPO

I was 23-ish, in an Eritrean restaurant in a dicey part of London one night and one of the hottest nightclubs the next (yes, I was hoping to see a royal). Flash forward to 28, and I’m eating a traditional Chinese meal with colleagues and admiring the beauty of the modernization of Chinese culture in Shenzhen. A touch later, I was in a cattle call at one of the most prestigious fertility specialists in the country waiting to be called for my ultrasound and bloodwork for the 3rd time that week. And today, I’m balancing my young family with the needs of my aging parents.

These are all real experiences I have had during my career, and in each of these cases, my employer helped provide what was right for me, whether it was paid time off, work travel, reasonably priced and excellent health care, or time, flexibility and empathy. And I’d take all of those over frozen yogurt, ping pong tables, yoga classes, salad bars, beer on tap, in-house gyms, or movie tickets, any day!

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve enjoyed all of those lovely workplace perks in the past. Fro-yo is delish, but the psychological benefit of real employer benefits is undeniable. Most people work to live. Sure, many people also believe in the value or mission of their organization or their work, that doesn’t change the fact that work, by definition, is meant to support us in the rest of our lives. That is where the psychology of benefits comes into play.

Paid time off, generous healthcare benefits, parental leave, training and development, and these sorts of real-life, tangible benefits -- these are what employees really want at the end of the day. LinkedIn research supports this assertion.  In their 2018 Workplace Trends Report,  professionals stated that 44 percent were staying with their organization due to strong benefits. When unemployment is at 3.7 percent, keeping 44 percent of your employees based off of your benefits alone is pretty fantastic. When you think about it, an organization giving you great health benefits or telling you to take time off to have learning or character building experiences makes you feel that you are important to the organization. You feel grateful, rewarded, compensated. Appreciated.

Similarly, empathy - the real, feel-it-in-your-gut sentiment that your company “gets it” (or at least is trying to) - goes a whole lot further especially when you’re a little unstable during those intense life changes - birth, moving, marriage, death. As you move further into your career, typically that is when you are also moving closer to those life changes.  As you begin to take on a new human in your life or become a caretaker to your children and your parents those benefits become increasingly important. Employers that recognize the challenge you are facing personally, provide the flexibility or resources you need, and keep open dialogue regarding how you are feeling benefit because they gain an employee that is emotionally connected to the organization and feels valued.

This week, I received the following from a colleague, “Sorry about all that you're going through, I know that it's so hard. Keep your chin up.” I’m currently going through one of those life changes and, although I’ll admit I’m pretty emotive right now, that small sentiment was really impactful. People want to be recognized. They want to feel cared for. They want to feel that they matter.

Speaking of, let’s be honest, regardless of how much money we are making, we always want more. Organizations can only do so much on cash compensation (benchmark - internally and externally, communicate well and often, provide a culturally appropriate level of transparency...I digress). If companies really want to hold on to their employees, reward them with things that improve and enrich their lives. Even if an employee is not there long term, they will have a grateful alum, and that is important too.

Holistic is actively working to help companies understand and improve the how, what, when, where, and why when it comes to benefits and perks, compensation analysis, and employee engagement. As a team, we’ve had a wide range of experiences in the workplace that have led to our passion for improving the employee experience. Because, when it comes down to it, psychological and physical well-being is just more important than all that fro yo. So let’s focus on what really matters for our people so we can be there when they need us most.

Suzanne Reicher