Productivity Confidential: The Employee Engagement Boost
Innovation in employee benefits has a long history. Take sabbaticals, a benefit that began in academic institutions. These long breaks allowed professors and researchers to take time off to pursue personal projects or simply recharge their creativity over the course of several months off. Those novel approaches are slowly inching themselves into the corporate world and companies from Patagonia to McDonald’s to Intel. And it’s not just sabbaticals that are growing in popularity, perks like unlimited PTO, 4-day work weeks, and company-funded personal experiences are becoming more widely accepted across industries. Company leaders see these perks as a way to give back to loyal personnel, and employees are increasingly searching out organizations that are embracing new approaches to time off.
But it’s not as simple as awarding staff a bundle of PTO and walking away. How do you pick up the slack for key team members when work hours aren’t the same as extended leave? How do you decide when an employee is eligible for different tiers of perks? And how do you measure the “performance” of such unique benefits? In this episode, we talk to Mike DeFrino, CEO of Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, about the benefits he’s implemented, the challenges they present, and how these benefits help keep employees engaged.
Highlights from the podcast:
TED BROWN: I think the opportunity to grow within your company is an underrated perk. I mean, it sounds like Kimpton’s dedication in generating internal growth is a benefit that can’t be discounted.
MIKE DEFRINO: It is, I mean, it’s somewhat self-serving too with a dwindling workforce out there or such low unemployment rates. It’s really important that we grow our own and that we’re able to provide training and opportunities so that people don’t jump ship.
I was talking to our head of revenue management today and he says, “I took three calls from different headhunters looking for jobs that pay about the same as this job pays or more with bigger titles and maybe these great out clauses at the end of a certain amount of time.” And he chose not to take those calls or to take them and dismiss them or refer them to a friend. And that’s a pretty important thing for all companies right now in this environment to promote and to make sure that they have a system in place to keep people engaged and to keep them happy.
I think another thing that’s underrated in the work world is the relationships that people have with other people at work. So if you’re going to work every day and just dealing with the same pain in the ass workmate or boss or what have you, you’re much less likely to stay because the refrigerator is full of yogurt. That’s not going to keep you there. So the culture of friendship and open door and tight relationships where people do not feel like there’s this strict hierarchy or they feel their voice is heard and they feel their ideas are put to work.If they feel like they can come into a meeting and tell me I’m full of crap, that’s a culture that people want to work in and they don’t want this sort of heavy top-down, autocratic environment that I think still exists out there in some places. I find that that’s the quickest way to undermine any perk or any benefit that you’ve tried to establish over the years. I mean, no sabbatical is going to take the place of a boss who you love and a boss who you think really listens to you and puts your ideas to work. That goes a lot longer than a couple of days off.
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