We recognise that to be a great place to work, our team needs to be provided with challenging and stimulating projects; that means creating an environment to support and empower them to achieve their personal and professional aspirations. Each person is unique with their interests, inspirations and drivers, so it’s only natural to be motivated by different employee benefits.
With this in mind, our Finance Controller, Marta, came up with the initiative to reinvent the way that the current benefits work at Digital Detox. A new, flexible package was needed to make sure they suit every team member (and a post-Covid world!), where each employee will have access to their selection of benefits.
So we decided to have a chat with Marta, to find out more about how she came up with the idea and what difference this has already made.
What kind of benefits does DD provide to its employees?
Before 2021, DD used to provide a pre-packed benefits scheme to the team. The company was in its early stages of growth, and the team wasn’t as diverse as it is right now when the scheme was put in place.
The benefits provided included a company pension, technology and cycle to work schemes, wellness allowance (mostly for physical activities), a fully paid for Zones 1-2 travel card, and occasional team activities (culture club, team lunches and trips).
From mid-2019 onwards, the team started to diversify, so the profiles, backgrounds, visions and lifestyles became more varied. That, alongside the Covid-19 situation where we became remote first, we realised that the benefits package we had wasn’t working anymore. On one side, we had team members asking for the type of benefits that would work for them, and on the other side, there was a new living situation we were confronted with.
Marta thought about finding a middle ground, where we could meet the employee’s needs alongside the worldwide situation. So she came up with the flexible benefits initiative at the end of 2020, which was then implemented at the beginning of this year.
How are the new benefits different from what the company used to provide?
The flexible benefits package represents an annual amount that the employees can tailor to suit their needs. They could choose from a range of previous existing benefits as well as new ones, except tech, cycle schemes and training and development allowance, which are provided separately.
Whilst in the past an employee would have a certain amount for a specific benefit (i.e. wellness allowance), now they could increase or decrease that amount as they would prefer.
The advantage is that they can now distribute the annual amount the way it works for them. And even though it’s annual, it’s flexible in the sense that it can be different from month to month or used for different benefits.
Is the team using their benefits so far? If so, what do they use it for mostly?
The new benefits scheme is working for us as we can notice a varied expenditure. Also, employees who weren’t engaged in the past seem to have found new benefits that are exactly what they need. This has also improved the utilisation of the benefits.
Most of the team use their benefits for wellness, from purchasing gym equipment for their homes to having a personal trainer to help them reach their fitness goals. Others decided to top up their pension or divide the amount to be used for different benefits rather than just one.
The good thing is that the allowance doesn’t expire if it’s not used on a month to month basis, so it is up to the individual when they want to make use of it.
How was the initiative perceived by the company Board? Was it difficult to get it approved?
Having already tried to increase the benefits package for our team year on year, it was fairly easy to get the new initiative approved by the Board. The approach Marta took was not on increasing the amount as the package would have a similar value with the previous one, but with the assumption that the team would benefit more as it’s flexible and bespoke to their needs.
The idea was pretty straightforward and consisted of an operational admin change rather than a monetary one, so it wouldn’t affect the company’s bottom line.
Our plan is looking to revise the amount on a yearly basis so the team can benefit even more from upgraded packages.
Team feedback - How was this communicated to the team?
The new benefits scheme was presented in the weekly team meeting and our Employee Handbook has been updated on the back of that. Some team members have expressed that they wouldn’t know how to manage the whole amount, so Marta has built a simple calculator where they are able to see the breakdown and how much they have left to use.
The team are happy that they can tailor the benefits to their needs, even up to the point that a dishwasher was suggested to be something that would help their mental health. You can imagine how much they dislike washing up, but who doesn’t?
What happens next?
Times are changing and we need to be proactive on how to attract and retain DD’s best asset - People.
We discovered that people have different needs and the concept of wellness has no limit. So we want our team to have the freedom to choose what brings them wellness without any judgement.
That’s why we are looking to diversify the benefits we provide on top of the flexible package, to align with our triple bottom line: people, planet and technology.
And one of the first changes we’re going to make is swapping our pension provider for a net-zero one. This will help us with more responsible investing that can make a real impact on climate change as well as reach our sustainability goals.
The flexible benefits initiative’s goal is not just to attract talent, but to keep our team happy. It’s our acknowledgement of just how hard everyone works, and a big way to say THANK YOU.