Why successful benefit programs need role models

Employee benefits are essential to every company’s set of rewards and compensations and play an important role in attracting and retaining talent. But how do you ensure that they are actually beneficial and not just something that’s advertised on the website? Here’s what we at Billie do to make the most of our benefits.

Matthias Knecht, Co-Founder of Billie, with his child
Co-Founder and Co-CEO Matthias Knecht with his son at the Billie summer party

We’ve all been there: You apply for a new job, you go through the interview process, and of course, you make sure the company offers employee benefits that suit you and your needs. But once you start your new job, you realize that the reality is different. Turns out: No one is actually making the most of their benefits. Or even worse, employees are not really encouraged to do so. 

This may be due to stigma, lack of information, or simply because we forget about them. Or it could be because there are no real role models in the company who show everyone else the advantages of taking benefits. Whatever the reason, not encouraging people to use their perks could cost a company many talented employees. Research shows that 49 percent of employees would leave their job over lack of benefits. But only 29 percent of employees in Germany say they feel it’s easy to find information about their benefits, and 17 percent say that it’s difficult to locate information about their entitled benefits, as shown by the future of work by Unleash report.

          Already curious? Check out our full list of benefits here.

The most common benefits in Europe are: paid time off, health insurance, flexible working hours, and remote working. In Germany, benefits around leave and working hours, as well as personal development and healthcare, are the most common ones that employees already have access to. Whereas in the UK pension and work-life-balance benefits are very popular. However, what kind of rewards are popular or needed really depends on the company’s culture, values, and their workforce. 

It’s not just about what you offer

It’s no secret: Happy employees are more motivated and more productive. But what makes a happy employee? An internal survey revealed that 39 percent of our Billies choose Work-Life-Balance as one of their top 5 values. To give people enough time to recharge, Billie offers 30 days of annual leave plus five extra days for child sick leave. In addition to that, we offer a flexible working time model that also enables hybrid and office-based work.

43 percent of our employees state that Personal Development and Growth is one of their most important values arötklt a workplace. This is why we offer every employee a yearly training budget of €1,000 to invest in their growth, for example. And given that we have people from all over the world working at Billie, our employees from 46 nationalities can participate in free German classes for different levels. But growth and personal development is also something that sits at the very core of our culture: to share our knowledge, to learn from mistakes, and support each other.

Anwuli quote

And sometimes, there are things in life you just have to do because it’s your inner drive. Whether that’s the big road trip through Europe that you’ve always dreamed of or building a house for your family. Both are very personal goals, and they deserve to be acknowledged and given time to pursue. 

This is why Billie offers all employees a sabbatical, for example. So people can focus on  significant personal situations. Although there are many companies that offer sabbatical or life leave, in addition to other benefits, the key is to have role models in order to bring the benefits ‘to life’. It needs people to showcase the benefits and encourage others to do the same. 

Here’s an example…

Why it takes role models? 

In the startup world, people talk about ‘flat hierarchies’ and ‘top-down communication’ can sometimes be perceived negatively. Not so with our benefits. 

Two of our founders have taken one whole month sabbatical leave this summer to pursue personal goals. Christian wanted to finalize construction on the family home. And Matthias took time off to look after his three kids and help them settle in at kindergarten and school, which in the case of kindergarten can be a process of 4-6 weeks. 

Matthias quote

So in this case, our top management became our very own proof point of why these benefits matter. Since then, two more employees have decided to take a month off to recharge their batteries or take some time off for family matters. At Billie, you are given a lot of freedom: to explore uncharted territory, to own your projects, to work flexibly. Work is important, but so is your personal life — and we want to make sure you can flourish in both! 

Pablo quote

The right environment 

So, what does all of this mean? It means that companies can have a huge list of benefits, but if the culture doesn’t provide the right foundation or environment for people to use them, then what’s the point? And if you want to create an environment that allows people to take a sabbatical, for example, without feeling guilty, then role models are the way to go. There are only so many employee benefits you can feasibly offer as a company, and in a super competitive market, it is hard to always find the ideal balance. At Billie, we aim to help every employee thrive and find the right balance between the personal and the professional. It’s a give and take. Have you found your balance yet?

Sounds good to you? Check out our open roles and apply today.

Maria Zabel

Maria Zabel

Maria is a Communications Manager and Employer Branding Specialist. On our Blog, she writes about our culture and the people at Billie.

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