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07.05.17 / What do OneFifty’s benefits, driven by behavioural understanding, look like? (Avocados).

Benefits offered to employees are an often painful topic. They invariably seem to fall into two camps:

  1. Things which make a good ‘headline’
  2. Things which are pretty universal within that industry, and consequently not actually appreciated by recipients

Some of this tension lies with our innate lack of good decision making, as humans. What’s rationally good for us is (disappointingly for economists) often less significant than what we’re moved by emotionally. Bouncy castles and poles to slide between floors capture your imagination more than an extra % on pension contributions, for example, but we all know which makes better sense.

We’d put some benefits in place when we first began OneFifty, a little over a year ago. They were always intended as starting points, and after a year, with a team edging toward double digit numbers, it made sense to review and refresh them.

True to our approach to business as a whole, we had two guiding principles:

  1. What does the data tell us?
  2. What behaviours are we trying to influence?

We’re also very specific about the business outcomes we’re looking to drive with benefits:

  • Improve our team’s wellbeing, individually and collectively.
  • Ensure we’re competitive for the scarce talent who can deliver the consultancy we need and provide
  • Demonstrate in human terms what we do as a business – to ‘be’ OneFifty in all aspects of our operations: different, smart, effective

What we’re not trying to do is match what others, who we might be in the candidate market with, do nor to offer lots of flashy ‘stuff’ rather than reward people meaningfully. We’re not interested in what others do, unless we can see evidence it works.

So, what did we introduce?

  • Unlimited avocado. We’re not kidding. We have all the avocados the team can eat. Why? It’s a key cultural item for the demographic we have, and seek to further attract. Functionally, they’re very difficult to bring to an office, and equally, they’re difficult as an individual to manage the ripeness of. In short, they have functional economies of scale.
  • A free bike. Again, we’re not kidding. We’ll buy any of the team a bike, costing up to £300. If they want to spend more, we offer ride to work scheme. Why? We believe urban cycling is the solution to many issues, but for individuals it saves time and improves health (mental and physical). Anything we can do to get people to cycle benefits their individual, and our collective wellbeing.
  • Spotify premium. Why? Music helps people live better in multiple ways. We also have music on constantly in the office, and levelling the playing field of access to playing it also avoids the tyranny of control – we’ve all been there – the person with the biggest collection in the office controls it. Not for us. Musical egalitarianism, for better and worse.
  • Love to study – any learning opportunity which benefits a team member’s performance in their role will be considered for us to support (whether in time or financial terms).

This sits alongside original benefits which we’ve reconfirmed the relevance of:

  • Open beer fridge. Help yourself, whenever.
  • Make your own decisions tech policy, laptop, phones etc. You self-support, but you get the gear you perform best with
  • ‘Fit in’ time – allocated time in the week to exercise
  • Pension conributions
  • Lots of branded company gear
  • Free fruit
  • Toast, cereal, snacks etc
  • Showers, bike storage etc
  • Days off for moving house

One thing you’ll note we don’t include as a benefit is ‘flexible working’. That’s because this isn’t a benefit – it’s simply a way of working. When businesses label it as a benefit, they essentially say that working non-traditional patterns is something to be indulged, not something to be actively driven for. We don’t believe fixed 9-5s are any more relevant to the way we work than typewriters. In practice, however, we encourage the team to make their own decisions, with just a few core hours in the middle of the day, as fixed times for everyone to be available.

We’re confident we can identify what works, but humble enough to know we haven’t worked out 100% of what that is yet. If this sounds like somewhere you’d like to spend your time, as an Architect of Next (as we call the team) or as a partner (client, supplier or just interested party), drop us a line. We’re all about working with people to create what comes next.

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