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Keeping Pace with the Rise of the Perkstack

How Innovations in HR Tech Enable People Teams to Deliver 100% Personalized Perks

by Robby Peters

$160 billion. That’s the reported cost of employee turnover in the United States last year; 160 billion dollars.

With numbers this large, it’s easy to see why retention is a top priority for leading businesses.

Solving retention issues is a main focus of talent strategies within organizations of all sizes and across industries. The business imperative nature of keeping top talent in a competitive market has driven many companies to now reimagine how they serve, support, and make their employees happy.

Many high growth companies are exploring new and improved compensation packages, and more specifically, better perks as a means to stay competitive amidst talent and retention challenges.

Ten years ago when perks emerged as a priority talent strategy, companies started implementing things like free coffee and smoothie bars to increase their allure and appeal. In just the last few years, the number of perks companies are offering employees on average has grown tremendously. To meet the growing demand, an entire perk ecosystem has developed with content, conferences, and businesses emerging to help People Ops leaders create the perfect perkstack for their company.

While there are more perks available to employees, every process that surrounds the selection, management and operational administration of even a minimal perkstack has expanded to challenging levels for HR and People teams. Without a clear way to streamline, perks programs often leave employees with one-size-fits-all offerings, HR with heavy administrative burdens, and companies with wasted money and an unclear ROI.

Compt, an emerging innovation in the perk space currently experiencing high-growth across industries, helps companies evolve their perk programs so they can refocus on growing their core business with innovative solutions for employees and People teams.

As co-founder of PeopleTech Partners, I had the chance to sit down with Amy Spurling, co-founder and CEO of Compt, to hear her story and why she’s so passionate about transforming the world of perks.

What gave you the idea to start Compt?

About five years ago, the company where I was CFO, decided to dedicate money toward supporting employees and enhancing company culture — as most companies now do — and upgrading our coffee machine was one of the easier, cost-effective ways we settled on.

I had just announced that we were getting a fully-decked out espresso machine, and installing cold brew taps in our new office.

Everything was sunshine and rainbows.

Fast forward to several months later, and people began approaching me to make personal requests because they didn’t like coffee and preferred tea, specialty sodas, seltzer water, and other things.

That’s when I realized, coffee is great if you’re a coffee drinker. Applying this logic to every perk we offered, it was easy to see how we naturally and unintentionally create lopsided perk programs that solve for some of our team, not all of our team.

That’s when I realized we needed to take a new and personalized approach to our employee perks.

How does Compt solve that problem?

Compt transforms traditional one-size-fits-all perk programs into lifestyle spending accounts, which put the money in the hands of the employees, so they can buy the perks they want and need most.

What are the primary benefits of using Compt?

There are a lot of reasons companies would bring Compt into their company, but below are some of the main benefits we’ve seen from our current users.

  • Perks become personalized: Spotify, Netflix, and social media feeds deliver a personalized experience. Compt does the same for perks. The needs of a single employee living in the city are different from a married employee with two children in the suburbs. Compt allows HR to provide benefits where their employee needs are.
  • Perks become inclusive: When employees are selecting their own perks, people are no longer excluded. Companies can solve for remote employees, satellite offices, the five generations at work, new parents, new graduates, and everyone else equally. For example, instead of bringing a gym on-site, a company would offer a lifestyle spending account enabling employees to be healthy in their own capacity — whether it’s ClassPass, a yoga studio, funds for a 5k, a massage, or something related to mental health.
  • Perks become easier to administer: With the responsibility of choosing perks on the employee, HR no longer needs to guess what perks are meaningful to employees. And, they also don’t need to worry about picking, purchasing, piloting, managing, and maintaining each of the individual perks and vendor relationships themselves, which is a time-consuming process.
  • Perks become tax compliant: Compt accounts for taxes (either paid by employees or grossed up by employers) on the back-end. Tax compliance becomes easier and CFOs and finance teams can rest easy knowing that all the data is there in case they are audited by the IRS.

Why is this important?

Employees want it, and companies need it.

The current model of purchasing employee perks worked when there were a couple of offerings inside of a company and employee expectations were low. But, now that amount of perks companies offer has grown so much, the model has finally broke. That’s where we come in. We help companies support employees in meaningful ways by offering deep customization while saving time and resources.

What are some examples of how companies are using your software today?

We’ve seen three basic use-cases emerge.

  1. Companies move already-existing perk stipends on to Compt. For instance, culture giants like AirBnBQualtricsMicrosoftBasecamp, and Buffercurrently offer perk stipends. By implementing Compt, they can transition their existing stipends onto our software, which makes it easier for them to manage their taxes, employee balances, and see utilization rates.
  2. Companies using Compt as the majority of their perk offerings. For companies that have a limited budget, developing a personalized perk program from the onset prevents them from having to pick individual perks that inevitably only solve for a pocket-sized group of employees.
  3. Companies using Compt and lifestyle spending accounts as supplemental offerings. Larger companies with more wide-spread perk offerings will need to introduce focus and personalization at some point. Instead of trying to offer every single perk an employee could want, they offer Compt in addition to their existing offerings, which allows employees to pick the perk that they need.

The example uses of Compt above all become more valuable when companies are trying to solve for remote employees, satellite offices, or create an inclusive program which solves for everyone.

What have you learned so far from your users and customers so far? What has been the most fun or rewarding?

The traction and impact has been one of our favorite parts of building Compt. Just recently, we were mentioned in a local tech publication because a user of ours mentioned us as their favorite perk. Jared Littlejohn, an employee of our customer Midaxo, was asked: “Why is the perk [Compt] important to you, and what effect does it have on your work?” Below is an excerpt from the piece:

“This perk has allowed me to spend time with the people I care about. Because of this perk, I was able to expense a flight home to surprise my mom for her birthday. That’s priceless. I’ve also used it for travel expenses in order to spend time with my girlfriend in NYC. Knowing that I could also put it toward my education is exciting, too. I don’t have to worry about what’s going on with my loved ones because I can work while I travel home!”

How awesome that we get to be a part of this? It’s the people who we impact that fuel our motivation to keep developing a better product.

What’s next for you and Compt?

We have a ton of excellent features and functionality on our product roadmap that we’re excited to bring to companies and users everywhere.

We are looking forward to seeing how our software will continue to impact people’s lives and encourage People Ops professionals to invest in company culture and employee retention technology.

People are the core of every business, and we’re so happy that Compt is able to bring that personalized touch to every company.

Robby Peters is Co-Founder of PeopleTech Partners

Get first in line for more from the PeopleTech Partners community of top HR & People leaders on this and other key topics and trends impacting the future of work here.

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