Employees with Benefits

by Kenny Jin,
Head Of Talent Acquisition & HR Business Partner

DATE: 2019-07-23

Attracting, motivating, and rewarding the millennial generation.



The mid-2000’s were indeed a different time. Before the downfalls of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, investment banking was enjoying a Golden Age — an age where USD 22 billion IPO’s existed and where it was not uncommon for bankers to receive annual bonuses that were the same or at times even larger than their yearly base salary.


At the time, I was a student at Northwestern University, and I, like many other undergraduates across the country, wanted nothing more than to secure an Analyst role at a company like Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley, where two things were all but guaranteed: 100-hour work weeks and the best compensation anyone could find at an entry-level position outside of the NBA.


Oh my, how things have changed. While Wall Street still has no shortage of hopeful fresh graduates sending in their applications each year, the subprime mortgage crisis did not exactly reflect very well in terms of depicting these financial institutions as stable and resilient employers. Millennials have been quick to take notice of this and have begun flocking to companies like Dropbox, Whatsapp, and Snapchat, each of which offer their employees an entirely different work experience from those of their bulge-bracket counterparts.


While certainly the employment landscape as a whole has changed, the greatest impact has actually come from a gradual but meaningful shift in the demographics of the employees themselves. As Millennials continue to make up a higher and higher percentage of the work force, HR Directors must continually adjust to their needs and wants by consistently updating the perks that their companies give.


At the moment, nobody is more on top of this than Silicon Valley. Ask any graduating senior today where they would like to work and, more likely than not, they will rattle off names like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Twitter. But good news for the rest of us — you don’t necessarily need to be a tech giant to boast an effective, relevant-in-2018 benefits model. Any company can have one, so long as their HR teams keep these three things in mind.


Cash is no longer king


Nowadays, compensation is becoming increasingly less about the numbers on the paycheck that employees receive at the end of the month and more about the wholistic package of benefits & perks that they get to enjoy on a day-to-day basis. In other words, are they willing to sacrifice a couple of hundred dollars in cash each month if it means that they get access to 3 gourmet meals a day, in-house CrossFit classes, and unlimited vacation days?


Fewer and fewer Millennials want to be spending the heyday of their youth slaving away on pitchbooks or staring at Excel, especially not when companies like Google and Amazon offer the opportunity to potentially impact the world in a much more direct and immediate way via initiatives such as self-driving vehicles and drone deliveries. The need for a sense of ownership is real, whether it comes in a literal sense in the form of stock options, or figuratively through having some degree of control over the work that they do and how they deliver it.



The necessity for flexibility


In recent years, “flexibility” has become one of the most overused buzzwords in the start-up world. Yes, we all know that it boosts workplace happiness and saves companies money, but true flexibility is actually much more than just giving employees the freedom to choose when and from where they work. True flexibility is only possible when a company and its employees have values that align with one another at a philosophical level, creating a situation which, in effect, allows each employee to be their own toughest boss.


This is the mindset that we have chosen to embrace at REAPRA. Each employee, upon joining the company, embarks on a “Mastery journey” that begins with choosing a long-term, big-picture life goal. This goal, more often than not, has absolutely nothing to do with their day-to-day work and can entail anything — it can be something as simple as being happy or something more tangible, like maintaining peak physical fitness. For the duration of the time that they are with us, regardless of whether that time is a month or a decade, all learning & development efforts are based around incorporating REAPRA concepts, such as complexity management and co-creation of value with society, to help them along this personalized journey.


Another example is Netflix. We’ve all seen their culture deck. While what clearly works for them might not work for every organization out there, most successful companies today subscribe to two key tenets: don’t sweat the small stuff and don’t continue to do something just because it has always been done that way. In other words, evaluate your employees truly based on their work results, not on how (or if) they are adhering to arbitrary rules, and establish & foster an open environment where challenging norms and conventions is not only tolerated but actually encouraged.


Personalization and communication


It should be fairly obvious that a mother-of-three in her forties has a completely different set of priorities than someone who is single and fresh out of college, but, up until recently, companies have seemed to be blissfully unaware of this — at least that’s what you would think, judging from the one-size-fits-all set of benefits that they provide.


Today’s cutting-edge benefit models all incorporate some form of customization. In fact, more and more employers are taking advantage of HR platforms that allow them to empower their employees by giving them a digital wallet with a set amount of spending power and enabling them to “shop” for what they need most from their favorite merchants at a discounted rate. This means that the employees themselves, regardless of what stage of life they are in, will always have complete control over how they get the maximum value out of their benefits packages.


Finally, communication is the most obvious but sadly also most overlooked component of any corporate benefits program. It is truly an unfortunate situation when companies spend significant amounts of money on putting together generous wellness, lifestyle, or insurance packages for their employees but continue to suffer from high employee turnover and low morale simply because of a lack of communication regarding exactly what benefits are available and how they can be claimed.


Whether you have a robust, readily-available company handbook or use a platform to automate the tracking and distribution of your benefits, keeping your employees informed of what they are entitled to is one of the simplest ways to increase workforce engagement and satisfaction.



The Author
Kenny joined REAPRA in August 2016. A regular in the start-up scene across Southeast Asia, he has over ten years of experience in talent acquisition, HR business partnering, and P&L management. Previously, he was responsible for managing three business units (HR, Finance, and Sales & Marketing) at Adecco Singapore and was one of the pioneering members of Michael Page International’s Shanghai office. He graduated from Northwestern University in the US with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and International Studies.