Bet­ter en­gag­ing em­ploy­ees

Becky Cantieri built Sur­vey­Mon­key’s rock-solid ben­e­fits pro­gram with the help of an open cul­ture, a drive to serve em­ploy­ees and, yes, lots and lots of em­ployee sur­veys.

Employee Benefit News - - BENEFITS JUDGES - BY PHIL AL­BI­NUS

UN­LIKE OTHER di­rec­tors of ben­e­fits and HR man­agers, Becky Cantieri knows she has em­ploy­ees who don’t balk at giv­ing feed­back. As se­nior vice pres­i­dent of hu­man re­sources for Sur­vey­Mon­key — the on­line sur­vey provider — she uses the firm’s polling soft­ware to touch base with the 675 em­ploy­ees in Sur­vey­Mon­key’s San Ma­teo, Calif.- headquarters, as well as work­ers at the com­pany’s satel­lite of­fices in Emeryville, Calif., Seat­tle, Port­land, Ot­tawa, Dublin and Syd­ney.

“We’re con­stantly sur­vey­ing our em­ploy­ees. Luck­ily, given that it’s what we do for a liv­ing, they tol­er­ate all of our in­quiries,” says Cantieri, win­ner of EBN’s 2017 Judges’ Choice Award, given each year to a ben­e­fits pro­fes­sional who makes great use of wide ben­e­fits pro­grams.

Cantieri uses four sur­veys through­out the year: a bi-an­nual em­ployee ex­pe­ri­ence sur­vey; an an­nual ben­e­fit sur­vey; a re­cently launched diver­sity and in­clu­sion sur­vey; and a sur­vey of new hires to un­der­stand how well the com­pany helped dur­ing their on­board­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“The beauty of be­ing able to use Sur­vey­Mon­key as an HR prac­ti­tioner is it al­lows me to have con­ver­sa­tions at scale with the peo­ple on what mat­ters most to our em­ploy­ees,” she says.

When she joined in 2011 af­ter serv­ing as HR di­rec­tor at Ya­hoo, Sur­vey­Mon­key didn’t have an HR depart­ment or a di­rec­tor of em­ployee ben­e­fits. With one other em­ployee, she had to craft an en­tire ben­e­fits pro­gram and em­ployee en­gage­ment guide­lines from scratch.

The sur­veys have helped Cantieri cre­ate new vol­un­tary ben­e­fits that fo- cused on what the em­ploy­ees of the Sil­i­con Val­ley tech gi­ant wanted most, namely parental leave and work-life bal­ance of­fer­ings. At the end of 2015, Cantieri and her team launched what she calls a “re­ally ex­ten­sive” ben­e­fits sur­vey that fo­cused on “the things that were re­ally im­por­tant to them and keep­ing them up at night,” she says. The re­sponse rate was 98%. With care­giv­ing con­cerns ap­par­ent from the sur­vey re­sults, the com­pany made a fun­da­men­tal shift to its leave pro­gram in April 2016.

Sur­vey­Mon­key of­fers em­ploy­ees 16 weeks of paid leave for ei­ther par­ent to care for a new­born re­gard­less if the child was a re­sult of adop­tion, fos­ter­ing that led to adop­tion, or a nat­u­ral child­birth. In the U.S., where em­ploy­ees don’t of­ten have ac­cess to such parental leave, Sur­vey­Mon­key em­ploy­ees and ex­ec­u­tives have taken the leave and re­turned to work.

“Men and women have taken the time, and 100% of peo­ple who have taken the time have come back,” says Cantieri, who took the parental leave time her­self to have her two daugh­ters. “It’s amaz­ing the loy­alty this builds with em­ploy­ees when they have per­mis­sion to go and fo­cus on the new baby. It’s im­por­tant to them that they can come back and rein­te­grate into the work­force and be suc­cess­ful go­ing for­ward.”

Sur­vey­Mon­key also is friendly to par­ents once they re­turn to work. The Emeryville fa­cil­ity has a Jun­gle Gym where em­ploy­ees can bring their chil­dren to play with games, toys and a chalk board. (The other of­fices do not have this fea­ture.) Nurs­ing moth­ers have ac­cess to a pri­vate room stocked with with hospi­tal-grade breast­pumps, pump­ing sup­plies, and re­frig­er­a­tors to pump dur­ing the work­day.

Holidays and Take 4

In ad­di­tion to parental leave, Sur­vey­Mon­key of­fers a perk it calls “hol­i­day recharge,” which al­lows em­ploy­ees to un­plug from com­pany e-mails and un­wind dur­ing the week be­tween Christ­mas and New Year’s. Ad­di­tion­ally, the com­pany ex­tended its be­reave­ment pol­icy this year to up to 20 days paid leave to grieve an im­me­di­ate fam­ily mem­ber and up to 10 days to grieve an ex­tended fam­ily mem­ber.

“We also launched what we re­fer to as Take 4,” she says. “Once you’ve com­pleted four years of ser­vice, you’re el­i­gi­ble to take a four-week paid sab­bat­i­cal in ad­di­tion to your reg­u­lar paid time off. It’s an op­por­tu­nity for Sur­vey­Mon­key em­ploy­ees to recharge their bat­ter­ies, ful­fill a pas­sion and come back in­spired with re­newed en­ergy.”

The sur­vey also spurred the com­pany to in­tro­duce a new ed­u­ca­tional plat­form for work­ers deal­ing with debt from stu­dent loans.

This fo­cus on avoid­ing em­ployee burnout also ex­tends to the firm’s well­be­ing pro­gram. Work­ing with wellness provider Grokker, Cantieri de­vel­oped a plan that fo­cuses on health in six ar­eas: ca­reer, so­cial, nu­tri­tion, fi­nan­cial, phys­i­cal and com­mu­nity.

“We broad­ened the def­i­ni­tion of wellness which was usu­ally fit­ness and food to be more about well­be­ing,” she says. “Each month we fo­cus on a par­tic­u­lar topic around those pil­lars of well­be­ing.”

Sur­vey­Mon­key of­fers free 10-minute chair mas­sages, yoga classes in a fit­ness room and a “state of the art” kitchen for healthy op­tions for break­fast and lunch on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

The com­pany also worked with Grokker to cre­ate a se­ries of short videos on mindfulness, yoga, fit­ness and pos­i­tiv­ity. “The power of pos­i­tiv­ity chal­lenge was de­signed to help em­ploy­ees build con­fi­dence, feel hap­pier, and pro­mote con­flict res­o­lu­tion. As an in­cen­tive, if em­ploy­ees com­pleted at least 80 min­utes of video

through­out the chal­lenge, they were el­i­gi­ble to win health-minded gift cards such as Whole Foods and Lu­l­ule­mon,” says a Grokker spokesper­son.

“Sur­vey­Mon­key wanted to help em­ploy­ees break the habit of sit­ting by cre­at­ing a cul­ture where fre­quent stretch­ing and move­ment breaks are en­cour­aged. [There’s] a weekly five-minute stretch break ev­ery Fri­day in the cafe­te­ria,” Grokker says. “Becky ar­ranged for the first stretch break to be led by the Sur­vey­Mon­key CEO, en­cour­ag­ing em­ploy­ees to at­tend and pri­or­i­tize the break.”

Look­ing ahead in a com­pet­i­tive ben­e­fits arena

Go­ing for­ward, Cantieri and her team have plans to add more ben­e­fits such as el­der­care sup­port for em­ploy­ees who have to care to ail­ing elderly par­ents. “It came up in our sur­vey, but we al­ways ask em­ploy­ees which of th­ese things would you pri­or­i­tize, and they pri­or­i­tized the ini­tial set of of­fer­ings,” she says.

Cantieri and her team are mind­ful that they are pro­vid­ing th­ese ben­e­fits to in­crease em­ployee re­ten­tion, which can be a tough haul in Sil­i­con Val­ley where great ben­nies are the norm.

“We of­fer com­pelling ben­e­fits to em­ploy­ees, and we cre­ate a lot of great pro­grams that give them a sense of be­long­ing,” she says. “The abil­ity to grow their ca­reer and do their best life’s work here have served us very well and have helped us to re­tain ta­lent in a com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment.”

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