The Perks and Benefits That Actually Make Sense in a Remote Work Environment

September 15, 2020

Think of all of the in-office cold brew coffee taps that have now gathered dust. The kitchens that were once brimming with snacks and fruit that haven’t been stocked in months. Or the empty employee gyms, deserted game rooms and untouched foosball tables.

Many of the perks and benefits thousands of employees once enjoyed have become much less useful with the transition to remote work due to the coronavirus pandemic. And for many employees, there’s no end in sight. For tech employers whose teams are working from home indefinitely, adapting their perks to a virtual world has been crucial for keeping employees safe, sane and connected. But what did that transition look like? 

“We had to move quickly to retool our offerings,” Greg Van Kleeck, benefits and people operations specialist at Catalant Technologies, said.

That meant repurposing the company’s former gym membership benefit into a lifestyle spending account, where employees could use that cash to revamp their home offices. It meant swapping team outings for virtual seminars on cooking and ergonomics, and instituting a company-wide mental health day every month to give its employees time to relax and recharge.

“Another big hit has been our partnership with Headspace,” Van Kleeck said. “We’ve seen more than 70% of our employees utilize the meditation, mindfulness and sleep content offered through the app.”

Remote work doesn’t look like it will be going away anytime soon, so we asked three Boston companies about the creative new perks they’ve rolled out to their teams in the past six months, including meal stipends, live yoga and better access to mental health support.

 

Grubhub
Grubhub
Becky Altman
Sr. Manager, Culture & Community

Grubhub, the mobile food ordering and delivery marketplace app, has revamped its benefits during the pandemic, adding new meal perks, work-from-home stipends and additional employee resource groups. The company even implemented “Wellness Wednesdays,” a time for virtual fitness, yoga and meditation.

 

How have you adapted the perks and benefits you offer employees since transitioning to remote work?

It was critical that we provided all employees with information on how to access medical care and telehealth, symptoms of COVID-19 and how to access our employee assistance program for mental health and stress-related concerns. We made sure everyone had the resources needed to stay connected and productive by issuing a work-from-home stipend for employees to put toward creating a comfortable home working environment. In addition, we increased our Grubhub meal perks allowance that gives employees a set budget every week that they can use to order from local restaurants on Grubhub. The additional allocation allowed for employees to share meals with their children, partners and roommates. And if an employee didn’t spend all their meal perks each week, the unused amount was donated to our Grubhub community relief fund that provides financial relief for our community, including restaurant partners and drivers. 

Our people team also created a library of resources that included everything from how to effectively lead a remote team, communication with care, wellness resources, family-friendly activities, local virtual events, remote team-building ideas and creative collaboration tools.

 

What are remote-friendly ways you're supporting mental health and well-being?

Our employee resource groups have become extremely relevant and important in creating a sense of connection and belonging. Our working parent and Black employee affinity groups have increased opportunities to meet virtually, share resources and support each other through the challenges of the last several months. Wellness Wednesdays are a time for virtual fitness, yoga and meditation classes, and they are recorded so that anyone can access them at their convenience. We also offer virtual cooking demos, happy hours, podcasts and lunch and learns. We know that our employees love our Grubhub swag, so we’ve enhanced our online Grubhub Goods store and provided discounts, gift cards and codes for employees to get their favorite GH gear, including masks! Most importantly, we encourage balance and wellness by setting “meeting-free” times to encourage getting off our screens, prioritizing self-care and ultimately, preventing burnout.   

 

What role did employee feedback play in shaping these new perks and benefits?

In order to fully understand what support would be most effective and meaningful, we surveyed our people every 30 days when we first started working from home. All of our initiatives, stipends and resources were a direct result of employee feedback. By listening to our people and delivering on that feedback, we hopefully have sent a strong message that says, “We see you, we hear you and we care about you.”

 

LiveRamp Boston
LIVERAMP
Abram Wiesman
Workplace Experience Site Lead

Employees at LiveRamp, an adtech and big data company, now have access to a stipend that allows them to purchase supplies for their home office or a virtual counseling app for their mental health. The company has also implemented virtual team-building events, including its biggest hit so far: LiveRamp’s version of MTV’s “Cribs.”

 

How have you adapted the perks and benefits you offer employees since transitioning to remote work?

Many employees struggled with less than ideal work setups at home, so our workplace experience team quickly developed a remote program. It provides a stipend and online portal for purchasing office and computer equipment, as well as resource guides to help employees pick out items tailored to their needs. Our fitness benefit has traditionally covered the costs of classes and gym memberships, but we’ve expanded this to cover new expenses such as virtual fitness apps, bike shares and at-home workout equipment. 

We also shifted from in-person celebrations to virtual events that allowed our employees to build community and connect remotely, such as virtual happy hours, Tasty Tuesdays cooking demos and one of our most popular, RAMP “Cribs”-inspired house tours. Some of our most popular and well-attended virtual events have been panels that have featured dozens of LiveRampers discussing topics like climate change, LGBTQ+, BIPOC pride and women leadership.

 

What are remote-friendly ways you're supporting mental health and well-being?

When it became clear that employees would continue to work remotely for some time, we adjusted our programs to provide them with additional support for their mental health and well-being. In the spring, we organized Tour de RAMP, a global employee fitness challenge, which raised money for charity. We also hosted an event called “Ask a Dietitian,” where a dietitian discussed healthy eating habits and answered employee questions. To address the mental health needs of LiveRampers, we’ve added a virtual counseling app to our benefits package. Our company has also created lists of resources benefiting parents with school-age children, as well as our BIPOC employees, whose communities are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. LiveRamp has also added company-wide days off to give employees a chance to disconnect, and our leadership encourages us to take vacation time.

 

What role did employee feedback play in shaping these new perks and benefits?

Our new programs and benefits grew directly from employee feedback and requests. We actively gather LiveRamper suggestions through town hall meetings, company-wide surveys, and our new internal ticketing system. Their input has inspired everything from our RAMP remote offerings to our new internet upgrade benefit. In response to changing patterns in participation and post-event feedback, we’ve introduced more educational, inclusive and employee-led events.

 

Catalant Technologies
Catalant Technologies
Greg Van Kleeck
Benefits & People Operations Specialist

At Catalant, a Boston-based tech company whose software helps businesses with resource allocation and skills matching, many of the perks and benefits that are now being offered remotely were ideas that came directly from employees. It falls in line with one of the people team’s mantras: “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”

 

How have you adapted the perks and benefits you offer employees since transitioning to remote work?

One of the benefits we repurposed was an existing gym membership benefit. We reallocated those funds to employees in the form of a lifestyle spending account that could be used for home office setup, cell phone and home internet, learning and development opportunities, and other health and wellness programs. 

Our team is continuing to iterate our benefits programs to meet the needs of our employees. A few of our upcoming programs include an ergonomics seminar, a healthy cooking class, a nutritionist-led session on supporting immune health and a company-wide fitness challenge.

 

What are remote-friendly ways you're supporting mental health and well-being?

We instituted company-wide mental health days each month to provide employees the time to relax and recharge. We’ve hosted seminars with clinical psychologists, nutritionists and other wellness professionals. They’ve covered topics such as lowering stress, adapting to the demands of an ongoing pandemic, self-care in quarantine and sleep health. Another big hit with our employees has been our partnership with Headspace. We’ve seen more than 70% of our employees utilize the meditation, mindfulness and sleep content offered through the app. 

 

What role did employee feedback play in shaping these new perks and benefits?

Our team has an unofficial mantra: “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” We strive to embrace that in all of our people programs. We actively solicit feedback from employees through surveys and one-on-one conversations, and then review that feedback alongside benefits program data to measure the impact and value of the benefits and perks that we’re investing in.

 

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