Ben­e­fits Pro­fes­sional of the Year

Employee Benefit News - - Strategy Session -

“I was able to be at An­thony’s side through­out the treat­ment and re­cov­ery pe­riod, both in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and at home,” Albert says. “The fact that I knew I could be by his side and that we were able to face this di­ag­no­sis to­gether made me re­lieved and grate­ful.”

Face­book loy­alty

2018 hasn’t been a great year for Face­book. The so­cial me­dia gi­ant has spent much of the last 12 months ward­ing off crit­i­cism from politi­cians and the me­dia for a lack of trans­parency sur­round­ing al­go­rith­mic news rank­ings, and ear­lier this month, Sand­berg and Twit­ter CEO Jack Dorsey were grilled by the Se­nate Se­lect In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee over the way for­eign ad­ver­saries may have used so­cial me­dia to in­flu­ence the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

But de­spite the con­tro­versy, loy­alty among Face­book em­ploy­ees still runs deep. The com­pany’s an­nual em­ployee ben­e­fits sur­vey, which mea­sures sat­is­fac­tion and en­gage­ment with the ben­e­fits pro­grams it of­fers, found that more than 90% of em­ploy­ees say that Face­book cares about them. What’s more, Face­book was named the Best Place to Work in the U.S. in 2018 by both Glass­door and In­deed.

“I def­i­nitely think we’re a trusted brand,” Albert says. “It’s im­por­tant [em­ploy­ees] re­ally trust us and they’re get­ting the right stuff for the right is­sues. The ben­e­fits play into our at­trac­tion, re­ten­tion and over­all en­gage­ment. Em­ployee re­ac­tions have just been phe­nom­e­nal. I’ve never been some­where where we’ve got­ten so many thank yous [for] mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in peo­ple’s lives.”

Among those grate­ful em­ploy­ees is Vic­to­ria Ross, health ben­e­fits op­er­a­tions man­ager, who last year took 14 paid weeks off to care for her hus­band, then grieve his death.

“I am so grate­ful to work some­where that al­lowed me to do this; that rec­og­nizes that time off to care for your fam­ily with­out wor­ry­ing about your job or your pay­check is es­sen­tial to hav­ing a pro­duc­tive work­force. I needed ev­ery one of those weeks,” Ross says. “I will work my ass off for Face­book ev­ery day be­cause I ac­tu­ally feel like my em­ployer cares about me, and that makes me want to be here more than ever.”

“When I met Re­nee and started look­ing at the pro­grams they had, and the ra­tio­nale and the why be­hind these pro­grams — we had never seen this cal­iber of em­pa­thy and thought put into these mo­ments for care­givers like Face­book has put into their pro­grams.”

A sense of con­nec­tion

Face­book is unique, Albert con­tends, be­cause em­ploy­ees are so tied into com­pany ben­e­fits. When Albert and her team de­sign a pro­gram, they sit down with em­ploy­ees and con­duct fo­cus groups.

Talk­ing to em­ploy­ees is ex­actly how Face­book per­fected its ben­e­fits in the first place. It may be hard to imag­ine, but the so­cial me­dia gi­ant now syn­ony­mous with swanky Sil­i­con Val­ley perks — its Menlo Park, Cal­i­for­nia head­quar­ters, for in­stance, boasts on-site laun­dry ser­vices, an ar­cade and a fit­ness center — didn’t al­ways have the best of­fer­ings. When Albert got to Face­book in Oc­to­ber 2013, it was be­hind on a num­ber of marks: It didn’t have a 401(k) match; it had few life in­sur­ance op­tions; its med­i­cal plans were “medi­ocre.”

“Our ben­e­fits were pretty lean when I first got here. We were lead­ing-edge with some cash ben­e­fits, like we give em­ploy­ees $4,000 when a baby is born. But we didn’t have some of the tra­di­tional stuff other em­ploy­ers had at the time,” says Albert, who spent 15 years as se­nior ben­e­fits di­rec­tor at Sy­man­tec Cor­po­ra­tion prior to Face­book and also worked in hu­man re­sources at Hertz, Ul­trat­ech and McKesson.

“Early on we did sur­veys ev­ery year, and they were more about ‘tell us what you want.’ It made a lot of sense at the time, be­cause we didn’t re­ally have a lot. The very first sur­vey we did, peo­ple told us they re­ally wanted a 401(k) match and bet­ter life in­sur­ance. So I came in got those up and run­ning.”

In the years that fol­lowed, Face­book’s ben­e­fits grew to an en­vi­able list that ranges from tra­di­tional and ta­ble stakes to fam­ily friendly and in­no­va­tive. A few ex­am­ples: Em­ploy­ees don’t have a monthly con­tri­bu­tion to­ward their med­i­cal plans (ei­ther an Aetna PPO or EPO or Kaiser HMO), un­less they add de­pen­dents. Men­tal health is also a pri­or­ity, Albert says: Em­ploy­ees and their de­pen­dents are al­lowed up to 25 free ther­apy ses­sions through provider Lyra.

Face­book’s sab­bat­i­cal pro­gram, dubbed Recharge, al­lows em­ploy­ees to take 30 days of paid time off ev­ery five years. Albert is cur­rently us­ing hers, spend­ing time with her hus­band in Italy, the Cay­man Is­lands and Cuba. “I have to lead by ex­am­ple,” she says.

Face­book’s in­ter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tion tool, Work­place, of­ten shares ben­e­fits up­dates — and work­ers are quick to re­spond. “I just posted a change of leave of ab­sence ven­dor, and 97 peo­ple re­sponded within the hour, say­ing it was great news,” she notes. “But if I post some­thing and they don’t think it quite met the mark, they will come back and let me know that, too.

“Face­book is re­ally, re­ally open be­cause we are a mis­sion-driven com­pany,” Albert con­tin­ues. “And that’s how we are with ben­e­fits. Through that cul­ture of hard con­ver­sa­tions and con­struc­tive feed­back, that al­lows us the room and the in­no­va­tion to do things that re­ally are meet­ing peo­ple’s needs.”

Among those in­no­va­tions are work­place sup­port groups where strug­gling em­ploy­ees can find a com­mu­nity will­ing to help.

“We can take par­tic­u­lar life stages — car­ing for ag­ing par­ents, hav­ing your­self or a fam­ily mem­ber di­ag­nosed with can­cer, maybe strug­gling with in­fer­til­ity or grief — and our em­ploy­ees at a grass­roots level will cre­ate work­place com­mu­ni­ties where they find each other and they have con­ver­sa­tions,” Albert ex­plains.

For in­stance, Face­book em­ploy­ees have cre­ated mu­rals in its of­fices around men­tal health strug­gles as a way to curb stigma. And Albert, along with the en­gi­neer whose plight jump­started Face­book’s care­giv­ing pol­icy, started an in­ter­nal work­place group called “Can­cer @FB” that em­ploy­ees can join if they are di­ag­nosed with can­cer or if they are a care­giver to some­one they love.

“Some of the most in­spir­ing mo­ments for me are when some­one comes in and says, ‘My hus­band just got di­ag­nosed with can­cer; I don’t even know where to start,’” Albert says.

“We, from a ben­e­fits per­spec­tive, can give them all the ben­e­fits data, like how does your in­sur­ance work and how does the paid time pro­gram work, but an­other em­ployee who has that ex­pe­ri­ence will step up and say, ‘Here are the things you should know about, and here’s how to nav­i­gate through the care. And by the way, I’m on the same cam­pus as you, do you want to meet up and get lunch or have cof­fee?’

“It’s this re­as­sur­ance that I’m not alone, and it cre­ates such an amaz­ing, unique cul­ture.”

Still, Albert says, Face­book isn’t done with its ben­e­fit of­fer­ings — and she hopes other em­ploy­ers aren’t, ei­ther. It’s a fluid process — one that needs to evolve as em­ploy­ees’ needs, and chal­lenges, do.

“Say­ing we’re 1% done is a phrase we use at Face­book a lot, be­cause we feel like there’s so much more we can do,” she says. “And I re­ally trans­late that to ben­e­fits. There are so many hard prob­lems — es­pe­cially when it comes to health­care, re­tire­ment or stu­dent loans — that we have left to solve. I want us to be cut­ting-edge and help in­flu­ence the in­dus­try on these prob­lems. I want us to men­tor and pass on the ex­pe­ri­ence, not only to ben­e­fit pro­fes­sion­als in our or­ga­ni­za­tion, but ex­ter­nally.” EBN

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.