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Podcast Roundup: What We’ve Been Up To on The Benifit

Exciting things have been happening on the Benifit since we launched last month! We’ve got 5 entertaining, information-packed episodes with human resources industry leaders and culture creators from across the country.

Here’s a look at some of the highlights of each of our first 5 episodes:

Episode 1: Featuring Brett Farmiloe, CEO of Markitors

Brett says he tries to be like a baby fainting goat when it comes to his career.

“Baby fainting goats don’t faint. They’re fearless creatures, they have yet to learn any kind of brett farmiloefear like the adults. That’s how I try to approach each day. It’s kind of just from a fearless angle so that I don’t paralyze and I continue to make some progress.”

Brett’s explained that his morning routine for success starts the night before when he makes a list of six things he wants to accomplish the next day. The list of 6 things allows him to stay focused and feel the satisfaction of getting everything he planned to done at the end of the day.

Listen Here! 

Episode 2: Tamara Lilian, Manager of Culture and Experience at HubSpot

Tamara shared some of the programs HubSpot has to help employees grow personally and professionally.

Tamara Lillian“One of the ways that we do that internally is we host master classes. Master classes are one-hour classes. They’re taught by employees for employees, so that makes that a free resource that any company can run with.”

“Another program that we have is our free books program. This is a digital library, if you will. We really encourage folks. If you find a book that you feel will help further your career at HubSpot and help you grow personally and professionally, we’re happy to provide that for you.”

“We also provide tuition reimbursement. The cost varies a little bit depending on the country. I know in the United States, it’s about $5,000 a year. Again, this is really just showing the team that while we have some really amazing internal resources, we also know that there’s some great external resources out there as well and we want folks to learn from diversity of thoughts.”

Listen Here!

Episode 3: Arte Nathan, Former CHRO of Wynn Resorts and President of Strategic Development Worldwide

Arte Nathan is a longtime veteran of the human resources industry. He shared what he feels companies need to do to enable people to thrive and stay with their company.

“I think you have to treat them with respect. I think you have to create an environment of trust, arte nathanand I think you have to make them very comfortable with who they are, and where they are.”

Arte says it’s important for companies to “catch” and celebrate employees when they’re doing something well,

Listen Here! 

Episode 4: Eric Severson, Chief People Officer at DaVita Kidney Care

Eric has been called the “zen master of flow.’” He says this may be a slight exaggeration, but says he feels called to help individuals reach their full potential through their work. Here’s how he does it.

“I try to do that as an operating leader within a business by finding ways that through work,  Eric seversonindividuals can learn habits of being, that allow them to thrive in all aspects of their life while at the same time driving better business outcomes. To me, it’s about being able to teach people through their work life skills that make them better at their jobs but also better at the rest of their lives. Like better parents, better spouses or partners, better community members, better volunteers etcetera.”

Check out the episode to hear more about how Eric creates an atmosphere and lifestyle of wellbeing at DaVita and in his personal life.

Episode 5: Paul Wolfe, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Indeed

Paul Wolfe believes in treating people like adults. Sounds simple right? Here’s what Paul had Paul Wolfeto say about why unlimited paid time off treats people like adults and how it’s affected the company’s culture.

“It’s not that policing factor of like, oh, Paul’s taken six days off in the last 30 days or the last
90 days. It’s who hasn’t taken time off? If there’s a reason I haven’t taken time off because of working on this big project or a big product that we’re about to push out, like okay. But we should make sure they take time off after that. If there isn’t some mitigating factor as to why they haven’t taken time off, let’s talk about that.”

Listen here.

Stay tuned for more episodes on The Benifit. If you know of someone who’d be great for the show, email us at [email protected].

Paul Wolfe, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Indeed on The Benifit

Paul WolfePaul Wolfe is a trailblazer in the world of Human Resources. Starting out in customer service with American Express, Paul led Human Resources teams at many large companies including Conde Nast, AppNexus, and Orbitz Worldwide. Paul’s philosophy as a people leader is to treat people like adults, giving people guidelines and best practices instead of policies.

In this episode of The Benifit, Paul chats with host Hate King about the importance of the manager-employee relationship, why employee wellness is always a company priority, and why offering unlimited paid time off works. You want to pause this incredibly candid, fascinating episode. Listen below.

Show Highlights:

[00:56] Paul talks about his journey from customer service to human resources

[03:54] Paul talks about how he defines happiness in the workplace

[09:06] Paul shares why the entire company is connected to the mission statement, “I help people get jobs”

[15:13] Paul talks about who technology has affected work-life balance

[19:59] Paul shares why Indeed gives employees unlimited paid time off

[27:25] Paul talks about his morning routine. Hint: rolling over and grabbing his phone is the first thing!

[29:54] Paul shares why one of the rules he lives by is assume positive intent.

The Benifit Interview w/ Paul Wolfe, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Indeed


[00:00:04] Kate King: Hi. This is Kate King, host of The Benefit, where every episode we dive in and explore companies on how they enable in careers to thrive. I am joined today by Paul Wolfe, who’s the SVP of HR at Indeed. We talk about strategies for happy employees, tactics that drive productivity, and why it makes sense to offer an unlimited paid time off the policy.

Okay. Firstly, thanks for joining us today, Paul. I’m excited for you to share your experiences of implementing growth oriented people strategies throughout your career. For our listeners today, can you start by telling us about your journey as a key member of some very well-known leadership teams implementing people strategies? Perhaps you could talk about your key values that drive your purpose along the way.

[00:00:56] Paul Wolfe: Sure, definitely. Thanks for having me, Kate. I really appreciate the opportunity. My journey is probably a little different than some of my peers in the HR space. I actually started out working in contact centers for American Express a very long time ago, longer than I like to admit these days. I did that for a while. Ultimately, I got to which was the first IAC company that I worked for. I was running customer service for them. This was during the peak of the internet bubble on the west coast of the US. Our head of HR for the company left and we had lots of conversations on our senior team about the HR role. Ultimately, one of our co-founders and our CEO offered me the job.

Now, I was a little perplexed by that because I was a contact center or a customer service, client services person, whatever you want to call it. They had a couple conversations with me. I came to the revelation on my so hold on to this belief today that a customer service and HR are very similar, we just have different clients. At the end of the day, it’s trying to make people as happy as possible and as content as possible whether they be clients or employees. That was my pivot to leading an HR function. And then I went on to HR functions at a few more technology companies. Then ultimately, about three and a half years ago, I became a head of HR at Indeed and joined the company.

A lot of HR leaders have grown up in HR. Maybe they’ve been an HR business partner or they’ve been in one of the Centers of Excellence Employee Development, or total awards, or even HR technology. I just have a different path where I have this customer service. I grew up in customer service and then I pivoted to HR. I think they’re very similar at the end of the day.

[00:02:56] Kate King: Fantastic, Paul. I agree with you completely. It’s interesting. I think now when you see a lot of the HR function and that employee voice and customer voice are really being taken into consideration when you look at employee tactic. Really understanding the employee voice segment in the voice almost what you do when you take care of your marketing efforts with your own customers. I think it’s exciting and thrilling that we see a lot more movement towards that employee voice and being able to take care to your point in making employees happy in that process.

In your blog, you said, “It’s not about free food. What really matters is when it comes to employee engagement.” You sourced there that happy employees are 12% more productive. I was really intrigued by that and went through the sources, but how do you define happy in the workplace, Paul?

[00:03:54] Paul Wolfe: Yes, it’s a good question. I think every employee will define happiness or engagement, whatever word we want to use, forward in their own way. At the end of the day, it goes back to — and you just said it that the voice of the employee and understanding what they want. While that may be different by individual, you’re going to see some common themes that come out of that. If I think about Indeed, we have 5,300 people worldwide right now. There are some themes that come out of our engagement surveys when we think about engagement, or happiness, or loyalty. I hear career development a lot, which I think is an engagement factor or a happiness indicator.

I want to be someplace where I’m doing a job today, and I like it, and I enjoy it, but I also know there are some paths for me and whether that is being promoted, or broadening my skill set, or even being able to learn other functions or get into other functions. What does that potential career path look like for me at whatever company I’m at?

The free food comment is one that I talk about a lot. I think it’s the technology industry hangover or necessity these days to some extent, based on some of the larger tech companies that have been out there and they set the bar there. I also think it’s about how you — the culture that you create for your employees. My philosophical approach to HR is treat people like adults and I’m not — It’s not about my HR team and I, we’re not police I don’t even believe in the work policy is. We provide guidelines and best practices to our leaders and to our employees. Assuming they act like adults more often than not, they’re going to follow those best practices and guidelines and if they don’t, that’s a different conversation.

I also think providing a benefits package when you get into it and benefits and perks get — put together these days and I’m fine with that. What’s important to our employees and what stage of their lives are they at? We’ve got an organization where a lot of people are getting married and starting families and so looking at benefits that are useful for the vast majority of our employees is important to us. They may change over time as our organization’s average age gets older and changes. Then I think just learning in general.

I talked about career pathing and I think learning is — Employee development is on the same vein of that but people being able to have the tools to effectively do their job and succeed at their job and contribute to the organization. Being able to innovate and think differently and that’s part of our culture at Indeed but making sure that all employees have an opportunity to have a voice in that or pitch ideas. I think there are few other things I think about when it comes to engagement. I think that the other thing, the other two things that come to mind are my manager and am I able to learn and am I engaged by my manager?

It’s not that you’ve got to be friends with your manager outside the work environment, but you’ve got to respect them and you’ve got to feel that they have — If you’ve got a clear career development goal, that they are providing you feedback and are aligned with that and helping you achieve that goal. Ultimately, you own your career so you should be driving it but they’re supportive about it. Then I look at who are my peers in there and are they engaging to me and do I enjoy coming to work every day? Because of the people I work with. I made this comment to somebody here at Indeed. I think it’s a week or two ago.

I said, “A big part of the reason I get up and come to work every day is because our mission statement is I help people get jobs and that gets me excited. It gets me excited to help the global workforce find a job that they’re interested in or that’s more fulfilling for them. Whatever the reason they’re changing jobs or looking for work maybe.” The other thing I said to this person was like, “I work with one of the most amazing groups of people. They challenge me, they’re supportive, we have interesting conversations and we’re doing good for the world. I think those to me are the core tenants, if you will, of engagement or happiness for employees at work.

I think they can change by person but I think there are a vast majority if I think about our employee population that would put a handful if not a majority of those tenants in their bucket of engagement or happiness also.

[00:08:38] Kate King: Paul, I love the way you put the elements of organization, peers, manager. Can you go into some more details at specifically at in terms of what you do. I know you said these are the broad aspects of happy, but you’ve mention guidelines and best practices which is you and your team. Could you maybe share with us what does with their people?

[00:09:06] Paul Wolfe: Sure and I’ll start at the org level which is Indeed. I think part of it is our mission statement, I hope people get jobs. Five words, pretty simple, it’s on all of our swag, all of our t-shirts and we talk about it in our company meetings all the time. It’s around our offices and I think that the beauty of that is, that is the DNA of our culture. Everybody, no matter what your role is at Indeed, you understand how what you do directly or indirectly every single day, but helps people get jobs around the globe. I think if you take that a step further or on the true social perspective of that is we’re really helping reduce the global unemployment rate by getting up and coming to work every day and that’s exciting.

It’s also interesting, there’s a page on our website that basically is job seekers around the globe telling us where they’re located and they found a job on Indeed and what job that was. And that there are times during the day sometimes it is a bad day, sometimes it is a good day. I would go to that page and you just look at that and you see these little dots pop up on the global map about where they are and what job they found it’s in commentary about their interaction with Indeed and that is really a fulfilling thing. And that brings our mission to life.

I think there are some other things we do at the company level that brings the mission to life by going out and helping job seekers with their job search. How to best use Indeed, how to search for jobs, how to refine their searches on Indeed, how to think about their resume and some feedback on the resume and going so far as helping them with interviews and even to the point of here’s what you should do if you’re trying to negotiate a better salary or a better package when you get to that point of the the job interview or the job seeking process.

And so I think being a mission based company has helped bring all of that to life through and of what we do as an organization. I also think the other part that we do really well at the organizational level is innovation. So if you think about — Indeed was founded 13 years ago by Rony Kahan and Paul Forster who wanted to think about recruiting differently. It wasn’t the standard model. Our core product uses a pay-per-click model from a revenue perspective which is very different than other recruiting organizations. And so that’s what innovation started and now it’s kind of grown into, how do we think about getting the best matched jobs in front of the job seekers and helping job seekers get the right jobs, being exposed to the right jobs and be able to apply for those jobs easily and go through the process. We created programs internally to keep that innovation going and to keep us thinking about how to differentiate our product, how to come up with new products all the time. And that is a grassroots effort that all of our employees are able to be a part of. I think those are the kind of board level.

If I think about peers it is — again, it’s not and is — I think I made this comment before about you don’t have to be friends with your manager and see, you can’t be friends with everybody. That you want to create an organization and create teams in that organization where people respect what other people in the team bring to the table. That you create a collaborative culture and that they enjoy working with the other people on their team and the other people in the organization. And it’s not to say that everybody agrees all the time. Because we have a very — we’re a data-driven company and the data that we capture on a regular basis creates a fair amount of debate in the organization about this is how I interpret it, here’s what we should do and somebody else has a different interpretation. And I think creating the environment of Mark Steers where it’s okay to debate within the lines of being respectful. You certainly don’t want to get outside of those lines. But debate is a good thing and ultimately I think the best ideas from our employees are going to come when it’s a combination of pieces of ideas of each one of those employees and that’s where we’re going to get kind of the best end result for our job seeker.

I think the same goes at the manager level. One of our core values as a company is transparency. We try and be as transparent as possible with all of our employees. I think that really ‘the rubber hits the road’ there from a manager perspective. Providing regular ongoing feedback and receiving regular ongoing feedback so that you know exactly what’s going on, you know how you’re performing, you know how your projects are going from your manager’s perspective and you’re able to get feedback and you’re comfortable giving feedback to your manager on a regular basis. So I think that’s an example at the manager level of how we bring some of our values to life in the organization.

[00:14:06] Kate King: Thank you. I think that link to culture, that mission based strategy is receiving many, many, many, many more companies and some of the big behemoth companies going towards that. Typically, it’s always been that culture sits in one part of the organization. Then you have kind of leveraged that a little bit in HR then you look at the policies you put in place and then you look at really managers owning the kind of well-being and actions with their people. So bringing it in all together clearly is a key element of Indeed success. So thank you for sharing that with us. Many more companies are getting into this idea of well being. A benefit we say when humans thrive companies prosper and there’s that real direct line. It goes somewhat to being that happy, having that element with your peers, with your boss, with you. But tell me what indeed does with regards to well-being programs in the company?

[00:15:13] Paul Wolfe: Sure. I think that well-being is really important from an employee perspective or just in general as a human perspective. If you think about technology and it’s changed our lives of the course last 10 or 15 years for the better for the most part. There are some things I think that are more challenging. But it’s also that technology that helps us every single day and has blurred the lines between work and life. If I think about when I started working, again, too long ago for me to want to talk about, but there was work, there was my work day and then there was life. There was this kind of 9:00 to 5:00 thing and then there was everything else and you could — There was a probably clear delineation between those two.

Today, we’re connected all the time and we have the ability to be connected all the time, which I think is an amazing thing. We communicate differently but it’s — I think technologies make communication easier and better in the last several years. But that the line between work and life is blurred and so I think there are a couple things from a kind of wellness if you will or kind of well-being perspective. Being flexible with when somebody is in the office or not in the office or even where they do their work from. And so I said before our kind of population right now is starting getting married and starting families.

The simple example is, if somebody wants to come in the office and be in the office from kind of 9:00 to 3:00 and they have a newborn or a toddler and they want to be able to get out of the office, then at like 3:00 in the afternoon and go pick up their toddler from daycare or go home, if they’ve got a nanny, spend time with that young child, feed them dinner, spend that time with them, read them a story, put them to bed and then you see them pop back online later in the day. And so I think from that perspective of the philosophical approach is, look, we’ve got tasks that we need you to do and you’ve got projects to work on and deliverables. So it really about performance, it’s not necessarily in a lot of cases about, I always refer to what is butts in seats and so I go back to my contact center days far before all the technology and contact centers today and before even work from home in the context in our world. And it was about if I was running a 5,000 seat call center for American Express, I kind of needed butts in those seats to answer the calls that were coming in because I had card members that were expecting people to answer the phone.

Now, again with technology, there’s work from home in the call center space today too. And so I think flexible work arrangements and the flexibility around people being able to manage how they do their work and when they do their work is important.

I also think, if you think about talent, I categorize that if I’m thinking about going after it in three different buckets. How do I bring it to me and so I may have to think about relocating somebody if they’re open to that and there’s a cost associated with that. But that’s about getting the talent going to where the talent is. And so do I decide to open if there’s a large pocket of talent in the city. We don’t have an office and we really need to tap into that. Let’s think about opening an office there. And then there’s kind of remote work and I think there are nuances to the remote work especially from a manager perspective and making sure that remote workers feel connected all the time.

But there are tools out there and there’s just a way of thinking that we can keep those remote workers connected all the time. That’s kind of a little bit on the flexibility side too. I think from a pure benefits perspective, what’s important to them, we’ve got a very kind of robust wellness program, whether it’s boot camps that we offer, in-house or yoga or meditation or on-site gyms or just a myriad of other things for a wellness perspective. We talked about it with our benefit broker a lot and we’ve got this like 60% plus participation rate which they are kind of astounded by because what they see in the industry is kind of this 30% or 40% participation rate.

So we’ve got good participation which what that tells me is, we’re putting programs out there that are meaningful to our employees. So at the end of the day, that’s what I want, my team and I to be thinking about is like what is going to be most meaningful to the vast majority of our employees. So that they’re able to use it and it’s beneficial for them. I think one of the other things that we do from a well-being perspective and we move to this, it’s almost 2 years now, it started at the beginning of 2016, is we have an open PTO policy which is unlimited vacation. PTO is Pay Time Off.

[unintelligible 00:19:59] goes back to being philosophical about HRs treat people like adults. People know what they have to deliver in a given time period, whether it be a quarter or a year over a two or three year period and really being clear about managing a performance from their leader’s perspectives and not limiting the amount of days or weeks they can take off in any given year. I think that’s meaningful because we put the responsibility at the manager and the employee levels which is where the core relationship is when you’re an employer at the company.

Then two, it is — I want people to, and a big reason we move this way is, I wanted people to step away from work before they hit that proverbial wall. We all know, we all get a sense of when we’re hitting, it’s like, oh my god, there’s so much going on, and I haven’t had a day off in a while. Don’t let that happen to you. Take a deep breath, take a step away whether it’s for a day or whether it’s for a week or two weeks or four weeks, as long as you can manage what needs to happen so the business can keep moving in the right direction.

Then your performance’s strong, you should be able to take the time off that you feel you need to take off. I also think it’s important for people to — because of this, the work, life, wine disappearing over the last few years, making sure that you keep relationships going outside of work, whether it be with your immediate family, friends, extended family, high school reunion and taking time off to reconnect with friends that you had a while ago, that you’ve kept in contact with through other social platforms.

But I think those two things are stepping away before you hit that proverbial wall, and get burnt out because then that leads to not really engaged employees, less productive employees, and they’re not happy, and making sure that you’re balancing all the work that’s going on with these other important relationships in your life. So I think those are some of the things that we’ve done at Indeed over the course the last few years, to really help employees from well-being perspectives.

[00:22:10] Kate King: Great. I love the participation that I would agree with your broker, that is a great number. It’s interesting on your unlimited PTO because we talked to a lot of clients or customers and they’re maybe a little bit apprehensive about that, but when we look to science and maybe you have specific details with Indeed, that people don’t actually abuse it. Just having that flexibility is really such in positive engagement through with them.

[00:22:39] Paul Wolfe: I completely agree. It’s interesting I’ll talk to clients a lot. I talk about PTOs and they look at me with this quizzical look on their face like people are going to abuse it or it’s not going to work, it won’t work. And I go back to a part of treating people like adults and part of what we’ve done and at least, we’ve measured on an annual basis, is we’ve provided managers with and we’re really reporting on it and we really look at who hasn’t taken time off.

So it’s not that policing factor of like, oh, Paul’s taken six days off in the last 30 days or the last 90 days. It’s who hasn’t taken time off? If there’s a reason I haven’t taken time off because of working on this big project or a big product that we’re about to push out, like okay. But we should make sure they take time off after that. If there isn’t some mitigating factor as to why they haven’t taken time off, let’s talk about that.

When we implemented it in 2016, the beginning of 2016, we — I’m sorry. Yes, beginning of 2016. For the full year in 2016, we compared the average number of days off by employee to the average number of days off under our previous plan which had a typical vacation policy that had caps to it. Our employees took 28% more days off, and our first year out under open PTO. So that was — I got asked [unintelligible 00:24:02] at a metric civic company. I mentioned that before.

When I rolled it out, one of our engineers asked me what metric I was going to use to determine whether it’s successful or not, I said “Look, people should be taking more time off, and if they’re not, we should dig into why.” For our first year out, people taking 28% more days off than the year before, was a good indicator that it’s working. We’ll measure it again at the end of 2017, and make sure that that trend is continuing. If it isn’t, we’ll dig into why it’s not continuing that same way.

We’ve not seen — there’s not an abuse of it because again, we put back — we put the power the decision-making process in the hands of the manager and it’s based on performance. And can the team deliver what they need to deliver because previously, it was up to me to determine what the caps were for vacation.

Look, I know my direct reports performance intimately well. That’s my job as a leader in this organization. But to say that I know and I’ve got 10 direct reports. We’ve got 5,200 other employees in the organization. I don’t know their performance intimately well, and so it shouldn’t be left up to me or an HR director or anybody else in HR to say here’s this arbitrary cap. It really is down to the manager level that goes back to making sure we’re creating this environment where feedback is happening on a regular basis. There’s two way communication happening so that if somebody is going to ask for six weeks off, that they know in their mind I’m a good performer, I’ve got the stuff that I need to get done in this period of time I want to take off covered. Or I’ve been able to get the work done before I want to take the time off and the business and my team can keep delivering what they need to deliver. Those are the things to me that have made our program successful. None of it is rocket science. It’s just really communication, being transparent and kind of setting the managers and the employees up for how to navigate in the world of around the vacation.

[00:26:03] Kate King: Thank you. It’s exciting to put the power back into the dialog between an employee and their manager. I think when it is to your point based on performance, there will be tremendous kind of soft benefits that are very hard I know to be able to measure. But that engagement that ability to not get sick, that ability to actually sleep in those eight hours that we’re all supposed to sleep, ha ha. This gives the freedom. Thank you, that’s a phenomenal example of things that some companies may be fearful of but I think really truly give an empowerment and engagement model between the manager and the employee and ultimately the soft benefits for the company. Thank you.

[00:26:49] Paul Wolfe: Sure.

[00:26:50] Kate King: Paul, I’m going to switch gear a little bit to you, if I may.

[00:26:53] Paul Wolfe: Sure.

[00:26:54] Kate King: With each episode, we’re intrigued to know a person’s morning routine. There’s a lot out there. Tim Ferriss talks about it, Tony Robbins talks about it, Andrea Huffington’s talking about it. It’s all over, the web, so to speak, around successful morning routines and really people embracing them to get their own level of success. Do you have a morning routine, and if you do, could you share it with us, and if you don’t, why not?

[00:27:25] Paul Wolfe: I do have a morning routine. Typically 6:00 or 6:30 is when the alarm goes off depending on what’s going on. My first, and this may be a good or a bad thing, my first thing is roll over and grab my phone.

[00:27:40] Kate King: [laughs]

[00:27:41] Paul Wolfe: The reason I do that is, is because we’re a global organization. I look at what emails have I gotten from my team in [unintelligible 00:27:52] and my team in A Pack that may need to be dealt with right away that may be triaging. Then I also look at global headlines just to understand what’s going on in the world while I was sleeping for the last, hopefully, eight hours, that I always get eight hours of sleep. That sets the global nature of the business and look, we live in a world where things things go on all the time, it’s just being aware of what’s going on.

I’ll get out of bed at that point if there’s nothing major going on that I need to deal with, get out of bed, do the shower, throw on some clothes. I’ll come to the office. I usually get to the office by 7:30, eight o’clock. I’d like to get in early before we typically — Things start to rev up around Indeed offices 9:00 or 9:30 in the morning. I’d like to get in early. I’ll grab coffee. I like to go through the Wall Street Journal in the New York Times. Just under again it’s a deeper dive into that just not the headlines but what’s going on. Look at what’s going on the business world. I also look for interesting things kind of on the HR side that maybe in those two publications.

I also like to take a look at my calendar for the day. This is kind of how am I going to manage my day. If it’s a day of back to back to back to back meetings which probably are the most challenging days for me, are there any pockets of time I can carve out of there where I can get some time to decompress or think about strategy or talk to somebody about a unique or innovative HR idea that I’ve been ruminating on or something they’re thinking about, whether be a peer or somebody joined the company.

Then I also just prioritize like one of the things I need to tackle today, kind of how am I going to think about managing my day. Then 9:00 or 9:30, rolls around and the day has kicked off and we’re off to the races. That’s how I think about — That’s the first couple of hours of my day before the true work day starts.

[00:29:54] Kate King: Great, thank you. Three rules that you live by.

[00:29:59] Paul Wolfe: This is a [unintelligible 00:30:00] [laughter]

I think the first one is its API which is Assumed Positive Intent. I think if everybody in the world, in the global community lived by that mantra, things may be a little better off in the world. I know that’s tough and that’s very altruistic, but I’m going to assume that everybody is, I’ll think about it at the Indeed level, that everybody is doing something that they believe is in the benefit of Indeed or the benefit of the job seeker. I’m looking at things through that lines.

One of the other rules that I live by or values I live by is nothing illegal or nothing unethical. In my key years I said that a lot. Those are my two lines in the sand. The way I think about that is like, look, there are– ” If you think about it from an HR perspective, there is always an HR way to handle a situation. But really, my job and my team’s job is to help this company be as successful as it possibly can. We really need to put a business hat on when we’re thinking about situations we’re dealing with, or questions we have to answer, or problems we have to solve.

That’s where the nothing illegal, nothing unethical because there’s the HR way or the HR answer to things, and then there’s taking the business needs and desires into account and coming up with that compromised solution without crossing either one of those lines. I think the last one is just treating people like adults. That goes in personal lives as it does in business life.

I found over the course of the last 15 plus years in HR that if you do that or by doing that, the majority of people are going to act like adults most of the time. Every once in a while you’re going to get somebody who doesn’t and you’ll have that conversation, or figure out why, and you’ll deal with that. But I think, for the most part, those three things have become my mantra for how I live personally and how I live professionally.

[00:32:08] Kate King: Fantastic. Paul, thank you so very much for sharing your morning routine and the three rules. I think that the first one is definitely a big one for myself, the assume positive intent. You’re right, it is difficult sometimes. You remind yourself of that [chuckles] in today’s current environment. Thank you very much for not only sharing the people growth strategies that you put in place in Indeed and many other places, but also your personal philosophy around that.

[00:32:38] Paul Wolfe: Sure. I’m happy, too. Thanks again for having me.


[00:32:43] Kate King: Firstly, thanks for listening and spending time with us. I hope you enjoyed the interview with Paul. For a transcribed version of the show, head over to benefit/podcast, B-E-N-I.F-I-T/podcast. This is the star of conversations that begin to identify the best practices and when humans thrive, the companies prosper. If you would like to recommend anyone for the show, please email me at [email protected], [email protected]

[00:33:18] [END OF AUDIO]


5 Work-Life Balance Benefits for Employees

Balancing work and life is hard. Some say, work-life balance isn’t the goal and that instead, people should focus on work-life integration. Regardless of which philosophy you see as more sustainable, the fact of the matter is, employees want to be able to work hard and play hard. They want to enjoy the fruits of their labor and be able to spend time with the people who matter most to them.

Being able to work hard, play hard and love hard helps employees live balanced, happy lives. And when employees are thriving, companies will prosper.

Some companies have implemented simple, yet-effective initiatives through perks that encourage employees to live well both at work and beyond. By giving employees flexibility, companies communicate that it’s okay for employees to spend time with their families, prioritize their own wellness, and purse passions outside of work.

Here’s a few of the most effective work-life balance benefits for employees.

8 Hour Workday Including Paid Lunch

Baldwin Aviation employees work eight hour days. Total. Employees at the aviation support company work an 8 hour day that includes a lunch break. Essentially, they only “work” for 7 1/4 hours. This perk may seem small, but having an extra hour can do wonders for making employees feel like they have the time to do the things they need and want to do outside of work.

Half Day Fridays

Friday’s have a special kind of energy. With everyone looking forward to the weekend, productivity can be, interesting. Horizon Pharma employees get to enjoy year round “summer hours” and only work a half day on Fridays. Hello early weekend!

“Firm 40” Work Week

Employees at United Shore know they can count on a consistent 40 hour work week, in an industry that’s often known for 60-80 hour weeks plus weekends! This may not seem revolutionary. But, in an era with tech on the rise and the line constantly blurring between work and home, steady 40 hour work weeks can promote employees work-life balance in industries that require seemingly constant attention.

Once a Week Work From Home Day

There’s always that one day a week where it feels a bit more difficult to get up. Employees at Dermira can embrace this day. Instead of forcing themselves to get up and go to work, they can work from home one day a week.

On-Site Concierge Services

Georgia-based WellStar Health System provides concierge services for it’s employees. No more spending your time off running errands. The service helps team members handle day-to-day errands including car maintenance, dry cleaning, grocery shopping, gift buying and travel planning! And the best part? It’s all free!

There are all kinds of ways companies can support employees work-life balance. In the end, work-life balance benefits for employees pay off by increasing employee retention, productivity at work and satisfaction.

At, this is what we do. Helping companies create benefits packages that allow employees to thrive is our thing. We would love to connect with you and give you more information about how we help companies achieve their business goals through benefits. Contact us today to speak with a benefits consultant!


Underrated Employee Perks That Make Every Day Feel Like a Good Day 

You may have rolled your eyes at some, seemingly outrageous employee perks. 3 meals per day every day. A free concierge service. The option to bring dogs to work.

While some perks may seem unnecessary or like a ploy to keep people at work longer, the truth is, perks do have special role and place in the workplace. The word perk, a verb, means to become lively, cheerful or vigorous according to Similarly, perks help give employees that extra pep in their step, keeping work and life lively, vigorous and cheerful.

Now, not every company can offer the seemingly endless perks that the Google’s and the Facebook’s of the world do. But, every company can provide great perk that are relevant to their employees and will keep them smiling when they come to work.

Be inspired by this list of underrated employee perks that make every day feel like a good day at the office.

Fresh Baked Cookies on Rainy Days

For some people, waking up to rain brings about a feeling of dread and a strong desire to get back under the covers. But, at Trial Runners, an opthamology research company, employees can look forward to freshly baked cookies any time it rains. That’s not all! The company knows snowy days can also be a pain. So, after employees break out the snow shovel to get out of the front door, they can look forward to warm, sweet and just a tad salty cookies in the office!

Beautiful Space

There’s nothing like getting off of the road after a rough morning and walking into an uplifting, inviting work place. O.C. Tanner Company, which develops employee recognition and rewards programs, believes beautiful surroundings are a necessity. The company has a full-time green house staff and onsite floral designer. The company grounds recently underwent an update. Now, employees get to walk through and past meditation gardens, relaxing walking paths, and gentle waterfalls. Never underestimate the power of beauty and atmosphere to set a positive tone for employees!

Nap Rooms

Let’s face it. Sometimes, you just need to take a nap. At AOL, employees can nap anytime they need to. The company has designated nap rooms for employees to catch a few zzzz’s and wake up refreshed for the rest of the work day. Sometimes, all you need to do to turn a rough day into a good day is a quick, energizing nap!

Beer Vending Machine

Sometimes, all people wish for after a long day at work is a glass of wine or a tall mug of ice cold beer. Employees at Arnold Worldwide, don’t have to wait to go home to get their sip on. The advertising agencies workers gather around a beer-vending machine after client meetings, sipping on bottles of beer and chatting as if around the water cooler. This perk may not be for everyone, but it certainly might motivate some employees to be productive so they can celebrate at the end of the day with a glass of something tasty.

Mid-Workday Meditation Sessions

Employees at Etsy know that if they need a relaxation or inspiration break, all they need to know is walk to A-901, the company’s breathing room. A-901 has mats for setting and is a digital-device-free space. A couple times a week, employees can participate in guided meditation sessions. Otherwise, they can step into the breathing room any time they need a break, a breather, or to take a few deep breaths.

It’s not hard to see how these perks can make every day feel like a good day at work. At, we believe benefits and perks work together to create a great place to work for employees. We know that comprehensive, intentional benefits packages are essential for companies to attract and retain the best employees. That’s where we come in.

We love working with companies to create the custom employee benefits packages for them. When humans thrive, companies prosper. Contact us today to learn how we can help you create a benefits package that will have people begging to work for you.


Eric Severson, Chief People Officer at DaVita Kidney Care on The Benifit

Eric severson Eric Severson has been called the “zen master of flow.” He’s a master at helping people find meaning in their work and has done revolutionary things in the human resources space. Eric believes a workplace should give people skills that transcend work and help them become better people. He was appointed to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s national advisory council on innovation and entrepreneurship. He also implemented a results only work environment during his time as co-CHRO and Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Gap, Inc.

In this episode of The Benifit, Eric chats with’s own Kate King about how DaVita has created a workplace environment of well being, how mass customization of benefits packages helps employers and how he tries to live according to law of attraction when it comes to choosing what to think about. After listening to this conversation with Eric, you’ll be inspired and eager to figure out how you can incorporate some of his insights into your own people strategy. Listen below.

Show Highlights:

[01:15] “I’m incredibly committed to operationalizing a commitment to making work a source of rejuvenation, and wellbeing, and purpose, and growth in people’s lives.”

[04:53] Eric describes his role at DaVita

[06:32] Eric talks about what DaVita does to promote employee wellness

[11:00] Eric describes the intention behind the results only work environment he implemented at Gap

[19:45] Eric shares what he believes a good people strategy looks like

[25:28] Eric shares why personalization can be a differentiator for employers

[29:48] Eric details his morning routine (Hint: it includes mediation!)

[34:40] Eric spills the three rules he lives by

The Benifit with Eric Serverson, Chief People Officer at DaVita Kidney Care

[00:00:00] [music]

[00:00:04] Kate King: Hi this is Kate King, host of The Benefit where every episode we dive in and explore companies in how they enable employees to thrive. I am joined today by Eric Severson. He’s a Chief People Officer at DaVita Kidney Care and former co-CHRO and SVP of Human Resources for GAP. We talk about benefit initiatives and their meritable impact to the bottom line. How you can use his philosophies to create this in your company and three inspiring ways he lives by.

Okay, Eric, thank you and welcome to The Benefit podcast today.

[00:00:43] Eric Severson: Thank you for having me, Kate. It’s an honor to be here.

[00:00:45] Kate: Wonderful, so Eric first I was really excited about the opportunity to interview you. Not only because of your success in people strategies but your philosophy of helping people thrive. It is said you are the Zen master of flow with a mission of helping people find joy and meaning in their work. Can you share with us your philosophy of people leadership and creating that driving work environment?

[00:01:15] Eric: Yes, sure. I think Zen master might be a slight exaggeration but I am definitely committed. I consider my calling in life to be to help individuals reach their full potential through their work. I think through much of the 20th century a model of work developed whereby people increasingly have viewed work as a source of diminishment in their life. Something that they try to make up for in their private life. In the 21st century, I think there’s been a re-examination of the purpose of work in individuals lives. I’m incredibly committed to operationalizing a commitment to making work a source of rejuvenation, and wellbeing, and purpose, and growth in people’s lives.

I try to do that as an operating leader within a business by finding ways that through work, individuals can learn habits of being, that allow them to thrive in all aspects of their life while at the same time driving better business outcomes. To me, it’s about being able to teach people through their work life skills that make them better at their jobs but also better at the rest of their lives. Like better parents, better spouses or partners, better community members, better volunteers etcetera.

[00:02:53] Kate: I love it, thank you. It’s interesting just listening to that. I’m thinking of the functional medicine doctor, right? When they come in and look at you holistically and really understand all elements of you both physically, mentally, lifestyle, everything everybody surrounding you. It seems to me that you may be the Zen master of flow but also the functional doctor of the future of work, it sounds like.

[00:03:20] Eric: Interesting connection, I guess you make it because I’m a passionate, adherent to integrated medicine practices. It’s one of the things attracted me to DaVita and have been a patient of an integrated medicine practice for about 10 years. I’m fascinated with the idea of the whole person and how in the modern industrial age, part of what happened with life is compartmentalizing it, taking life and work apart. Really, the whole idea of the assembly line is about taking the work process apart, assigning people little parts of it. I think medicine evolved the same way in the 20th century into specialization and taking things apart.

Now there’s an effort in the 21st century to put it back together and understand how whole systems work in a person and how the mind and body and spirit interacts to create health or unhealth and that kind of stuff. I think the work environment is just the next frontier of that exploration, of reintegrating the human experience whether it’s the teammate or customer or employee experience or the customer or patient experience.

[00:04:33] Kate: Fantastic. You mentioned DaVita. I know you just joined there five months ago. Why don’t we go into that? Tell us a little bit more about what you are responsible for and what your mandate is going to be there, what your passion purpose other than the holistic side of things that will be at DaVita.

[00:04:53] Eric: Sure. Well I joined DaVita six months ago as the Chief People Officer and my role at DaVita is to lead the part of the village as we call it. We refer to DaVita as a village. A longtime principal of the village is that it’s a community first and a company second. Part of my role in the community is to lead our whole team in finding better ways to attract, develop, engage and lead teams of people within our village to high performance to developing and delivering better and better care for patients. We each have a different role in the village in doing that.

Part of mine is leading the operations to find better practices, better programs, better policies, better approaches, for managing people in a way that gets the most out of them. Whether it’s how do we hire people to get the best fit with each role. Or whether it is how once you’ve hired someone, how you develop that individual to get the most out of her. Or how you coach and direct people through various career paths. That’s essentially what my job is all about. It definitely speaks to that this higher purpose of creating an environment where the people can live up to their full potential.

[00:06:26] Kate: Great and what have you been doing so far? What are some early wins have been for you?

[00:06:32] Eric: For sure this is an environment designed from my own thriving I would say. Because it’s a community there’s a long history of being focused on delivering the best of patients by bringing out the best aid teammates. We refer to all of our employees as teammates to really emphasize the relationship between each individual as a part of a team in delivering wellbeing to patients. The mayor of our village who is our CEO, Kent Thiry, has long said to teammates, to patients, to customers, is that in being a community first in a company second, we’re going to focus on teammate wellbeing first and foremost.

Because in order to care for a patient with the fullness of oneself, each teammate needs to be well and it needs to be taken care of. We have a whole long history of programmatic offerings around wellbeing. Just to give you a couple of examples. One of those is called village vitality and it’s a whole portfolio of health and wellbeing programs designed to help teach life skills and wellbeing to teammates. It’s everything from a points based system where teammates can earn points by engaging in healthy behaviors like biometric screenings and health checks etcetera. In order to literally get the cost of their benefits reduced.

It’s incentivizing people to adopt healthy habits to a program we have called Omada for individuals with prediabetes and high blood sugar. It’s a coaching based model. It’s metrics driven, that guides them to healthy eating and exercise habits in order to improve their lives. And ultimately their life, to a program called We Are Well which is helping teammates achieve their own individual health goals through coaching and team based contests etcetera. To mindfulness programs. I think something that’s deep in the culture of the village of DaVita is providing many offerings that help teammates find their own way to wellbeing.

It even includes things like the designs of our buildings. Things like the presence of Zen or contemplation rooms on each floor of our headquarters building. Designing our building so 98% of the teammates have a direct line of sight to daylight from wherever they’re sitting. Gyms and bike storage, on site public transportation access. These are all things that have been very carefully thought about within the village to try to design an environment of wellbeing. Where teammates can thrive and learn behaviors of thriving that they can take with them back home. It’s certainly a village that puts a lot of emphasis on the whole family.

There are many of our programs that spouses and other family members are encouraged to participate in with teammates. Because we recognize that when our teammates supported by loved ones in their health and wellbeing objectives, they are much more likely to statistically to achieve their goals and have positive outcomes.

[00:10:11] Kate: Great. Thank you for those examples. Perhaps you can link some of those examples to what you did when you were the co-chief HR and SVP at GAP. You had implemented a results only work environment. I’m interested in what is it. Because results only suggests that all these great things that you’re doing at DaVita as well as what you did at GAP really have a bottom line impact in terms of results. Maybe you can share some of that strategy with us or what tactics you did with the results only and how you defined success and measured it.

[00:10:54] Eric: Sure. I’d be happy to Kate, sorry. I’ll just say up front that in my view and my experience, in order to be successful in a for profit business environment with implementing habits and practices of wellbeing, it’s incredibly important to create a virtuous cycle. In other words, in order to have sustainable practices of wellbeing, one needs to create an ecosystem that’s economically viable. In other words, you need to be able to demonstrate that any investment that you’re making in teammate health and wellbeing and thriving is also helping the whole operation. In our case at DaVita, the whole village.

In other companies, the whole company to thrive and all the stakeholders to benefit which it could include shareholders in the case of public corporations. Because those shareholders are investing their hard earned money in your operations. I think that’s the first premise. At GAP, with the results only work environment, we were attempted to do something that is also important to us at DaVita, which is to differentiate ourselves as an employer of choice. So that we can attract and retain the very best talent. Part of doing that in any well run business is figuring out what you can do differently and better than other employers that doesn’t just involve paying more money because that’s something that’s easy to replicate.

In both cases, we’re saying, “What else do people crave in their lives that we think we are positioned to offer”? In the case of GAP, we knew that in our industry which was apparel retailing, that one of the biggest challenges facing our employees was the ability to balance work and life. Had to do with the nature of the business as well as the unique demographics of the business which has happened to be about 3/4 female. All of our research was showing that although this issue matter to all employees, women in our workforce were disproportionately affected by work/life imbalance. Because women continue to statistically carry a higher proportion of elder care, child care, home care responsibilities.

In a nutshell, what we did is adopted results only work environment methodology. Which is an evidence based protocol that’s been studied by the National Institutes of Health at University of Minnesota and proven to result in higher productivity and better health outcomes. Such as how an averaged employee is getting almost an hour more of sleep a night than averaged employees and to workout more often, to go to the doctor more often. The essential premise is that you retrain your workforce on a set of values that focus on getting results rather than on putting in time. We adopted this approach in 2009 and measured it rigorously through pre and post testing and piloting.

The results we achieved were pretty astounding that we would cut our employee turnover typically by 50% and we would increase our engagement by up to 10 or more percentage points. Over the course of six or seven years, I think we calculated that our very conservatively calculated our return on investment just based on reduced turnover cost of employees was north of $50 million. I think ultimately what that demonstrated is that when employers adopt solutions to employee wellbeing that speak to real pain points in those employees lives and when they measure rigorously they impact those changes, you can show real positive results that makes the program sustainable over time.

I think in DaVita, we similarly have focused on how we can make our teammates lives more sustainable. We’re in the middle of piloting, for example for our clinic based teammates, a schedule swapping application on their mobile devices. That allows them to be able to trade shifts when they need to, if they have a sick child or some other care need at home. We tested something similar at GAP before I left as well. These are the examples of ways that go way beyond biometric measurement and physical health outcomes. That employers can undertake to make a significant material impact on the lives of their teammates. That extends well beyond the workplace into the community at large.

[00:16:21] Kate: It was a great example, Eric, I appreciate that. Because it’s very tough I think– Most people want to do the right thing for their organization and for their people. But I think it does come down a lot the times to what ultimately is this going to cost me? It’s been very tough I think to be able to put a specific hard number on our ROI with regards to say a wellbeing program. When you see the massive amounts of research coming out now and science based research on the need for people to sleep. The need for people to have that support structure for better decisioning, for turning up every day. I think taking those elements and using the meta cues around employee turnover is a great way to for people start looking at, this really is a smart thing to the business. This really is a smart thing for the bottom line.

[00:17:26] Eric: Yes. I would agree. I feel fortunate to be alive at this point in the 21st century. In the advent of advanced [unintelligible 00:17:40] analytics and digital technology. I think when I began my career in human resources over 20 years ago, we didn’t have the capability to be able to measure the human impact of many of our innovations. Today of course we do. That so inspiring of course because it enables employers of pretty much any size, just with at least readily available software and with the right people, to be able to put in place pilot practices. To test and measure them. Determine real quantifiable outcomes with a financial impact which is important.

Whether or not you’re in a for profit or nonprofit business. I’ve also been involved for many years in nonprofit operations. Nonprofits have the same concern with being able to invest wisely in the right interventions to impact clients and community members. To be able to spend every dollar wisely. Including the dollars they spend on their teammates. I think I’m super inspired by the fact that there is so much research. Showing that making the right investments in team made wellness and not just in wellbeing, not just in the physical realm but emotionally, mentally, spiritually, has a significant impact on the bottom line when done correctly.

[00:19:09] Kate: Yes, absolutely. For some of our listeners who are maybe a small or medium business size– With GAP that was over 140,000 people in a $16 billion business. For people who are just starting out or have a small company or medium company, can you outline the different attributes of what good people strategy could look like for them? The kind of benefits packages that they would offer in that environment.

[00:19:45] Eric: Sure. Regardless of size, I think that in today’s world one of the primary ways to get the most out of a people’s strategy and out of a benefits package is through mass customization. By that I mean, for a same flat investment level, to be able to offer as much choice as possible to your teammates in how they want to invest the spend. For example, if you have $5000 to spend on teammate benefits overall, it’s about finding a means of offering that to them.

It gives them the most choice based on their stage of life, perhaps their generation, the composition of their family, their needs, and desires, to get the most out of that spend. Because a 55 year old employee whose children are grown and is possibly contemplating retirement in the near future is going to have very different needs from a 20 something employee who perhaps is about to have young children and may be buying their first home, and thinking about saving a lot for retirement, an aggressive investment strategy, etcetera. I think the strategy will differ for different sized employers.

For small employers, for example, there are a lot of really great opportunities today with businesses of various sizes for a fully integrated HR systems and strategy solution. Providers that provide end to end service, access to benefits, access to HR information systems, and data analysis, access to composition planning systems, etcetera, which are a great options actually for small to medium size employers. Whereas large employers will usually their own build in house team. Regardless, I encourage employers of all sizes in their current environment to take advantage of the abundance of readily available information externally about what employees today value most from their employer.

Then being able to get on board with a benefits and HR service provider that offers the maximum amount of choice rather than one size fits all. What I find increasingly that works here at DaVita is how we can, over time, offer more choice to individual teammates in how they want to spend their available benefits and employee value proposition dollars. One way we’re doing it out of this big employer is we’re just in the middle of this week actually of conducting a total rewards optimization assessment. Where our teammates are actually taking a conjoint survey in which they’re forced to choose between various options.

Would you rather have a 3% pay increase, or would you rather have an additional child care benefit? The data is going to tell us at a very granular level of the universe of possible things that we could offer to our teammates, which ones did they value most right now in their life.

[00:23:42] Kate: First of all, thank you. I think that number one, that mass customization, which is just really make it easy in that instance. It really gets down to actually one to one personalization of that mass customized platform. Because I think what you’re saying here is what you mentioned, if I’m in my 40s I’m doing X, somebody in their 60s is doing Y. We have such a diverse, right now, of I would say five generations in the workforce. If you include the cyborgs and the machine learning in which to really pull all that data from and really see. To your point, with the technology out there and what is actually being offered and people getting on, or waking up to–

It is about full integration of somebody in the workplace, not a separate view of, I have work and I have a home life. It’s how are you supporting both of those. Which you could argue for the employer, is a good strategy to take on board if they want the best productivity from the employee. It’s not something that should be, “Oh, that’s not our responsibility.” It really looks to support the whole thing. Summarize that very small to medium size business who’s looking at this first and foremost, the choice is certainly out there. I think working with partners who really understand that wellbeing and growth of an employee is as important as the skills in which you are purchasing, so to speak, is definitely a top priority for the people management and people leadership.

[00:25:28] Eric: Yes, I couldn’t agree more. I was just reading an article this week, arguing that it’s time for both employers and marketers to focus less on generations, millennials, gen c, gen y, baby boomers and focus more on what this writer calling gen c, the generation of consumerism. The idea that all generations are really looking for personalization and the ability to mass customize almost any experience to their own unique needs and increasingly people are finding that in the world at large and they’re expecting that now from their employers.

I think a way employers can be increasingly competitive in a very competitive talent marketplace is to invest in increasing the level of personalization of what they offer. To move as much as they can away from one size fits all and as much as possible to a personalized employee experience. One also where they’re able to use their scope and size and skill as an employer to offer meaningful improvement in people’s lives in general. Because my experience, one of the great things millennials have brought to us is a reintegration of life. I think they grew up as generation with lifelong access to the internet and one of the things that internet is a great integrator of different parts of one’s life.

Many millennials who work for us have, say Facebook pages for instance or Instagram accounts that integrate all parts of their life. They don’t see work as separate from home or separate from school. It’s all integrated, so I think smart employers think about the world in that way and how can I bring an integrated experience to my own employees.

[00:27:43] Kate: Absolutely I love that. I think as you start looking at individuals, as you start looking at everything to your point of what marketers are throwing at us every day in terms of really understanding and knowing us, so with the algorithm I should probably know us way better than some of our even closest relationships right out there. That focus now but it’s no longer an option for an employer to say, “Come in and be this grade of your job, doing this function, having this benefits as the package and oh, I’m going to have you be the same as everybody else in that function” is no longer an option for people.

It really is to get the best talent and keep the best talent is, I’m bringing you in as an individual in terms of your expertise and your innovation and your thought leadership around how could we do this versus come into the cock and wheels base and recreate what we’re already doing today. I think we’re probably a little bit further off. Some of the bigger companies have been able to really turn the boat around quickly on that but something that is absolutely imperative to a company to be successful and sustain successes we move forward.

[00:28:56] Eric: I think that’s exactly right.

[00:28:58] Kate: Eric, we’re just going to spend a few more minutes if that’s okay with you. I know we’re close to time, just talk a little about Eric. There’s two questions that I’ve been asking some of my participants really for our listeners but also my interest. One of them is morning routine and the morning routine I think is we’re starting to see so much research talking this space. This really is starting to go to what we were talking about before, it’s an individual practice that actually enables you to get the best at what you personally are trying to achieve. Do you have a morning routine and are you comfortable sharing that morning routine with us?

[00:29:48] Eric: Sure, I do and it’s an outgrowth of a visit I made about 10 years ago to a whole health practice. It was evaluating my overall wellbeing and out of that grew a prioritization system that I use to this day around wellbeing. It’s based on the premise that as a very busy business person who frequently finds himself with insufficient time to accomplish everything that needs to be accomplished on a given day, I need to have a system to prioritize what comes first, what comes second, what comes third. Not having such a system is actually a source of great stress for me.

It probably is for lots of people where you’re constantly debating, “I can’t get it all done. What has to fall by the wayside?”. My system is very simple. I’m a daily meditator and I try to workout every day. Try to eat well every day and try to sleep minimally seven hours a night based on the research of Dr. James Maas from the Cornell Sleep Center, that seven is the magic number. My prioritization is as follows. Number one, sleep seven hours. Number two, eat minimally three meals a day. Number three, work out every day. Number four, meditate every day for 15 minutes. The way my system works if I have insufficient time to do all four of those things the first one to go is number four, I don’t meditate that day. If I still don’t have enough time then I don’t work out, then the eating, then the sleeping in that order. I never have to stop and debate what’s going to fall from the plate I always know.

I’m happy and at peace with that system. There are days where I don’t do all four of those things but I’m okay with it because I know that the next day I will. I think that having a system like that can work for a lot of people and it definitely has worked for me. I would add one more additional item and it’s not part of necessarily my morning ritual but my evening. It has been for about 10 years and that’s an appreciation ritual that I typically conduct when I’m driving home if I’m driving home from work or if not when I walk the dog at night. That is to recite with my husband, my three things from the day that I appreciate.

This is about creating a habit of appreciation in my life where I set a pattern going in my mind to look for what’s right instead of what’s wrong. It’s also a way for the two of us to connect. Thirdly, it’s a way, when I get home from work, to be in a state of appreciation instead of a state of complaint. It’s really changed my life the way that meditation has changed my life in the morning. I think those are good examples of daily habits and rituals that have not been difficult to implement and had a transformational impact on my happiness and I think my overall performance in my job.

[00:33:06] Kate: Fantastic, very inspiring. I do like that evening ritual. I think that has so many places you can use it for not just at home with your close partner, with your kids but actually and also without sounding too over the top in the workplace, you could probably– If leaders said more often what they appreciate about a team about somebody’s contribution then that again is another strategy around better productivity and better retention.

[00:33:41] Eric: Yes, I would agree and I would say that one of the keys is I would call it nonincrementalism. It is if you want to have it to stick find something you’re already doing and substitute the habit for a part of that process. In my case, the evening ritual I didn’t add it timewise on top of everything else I had to do. I took something I was already doing, driving home, and I had to do anyways and worked it into that process so that it’s something it’s easy for me to replicate because I do it every day without any time. Same thing with meditating, if I can’t take separate time to meditate, I’ll do walking meditations. I have to walk somewhere anyways I can just meditate while I’m walking.

[00:34:24] Kate: Fantastic. Eric, thank you. Last question for you. If you could condense it down to three, what would be the three rules you live by?

[00:34:40] Eric: I think the first one is well known as Law of Attraction. I’m going to adhere it to that philosophy which is the idea that that is likened to itself is drawn that you get what you think about. I am disciplined, my first rule is would be disciplined about what I choose to think about and focus a lot more of my time thinking about what I want and what I don’t want. I found that when I can practice that consistently, my state of mental peace and wellbeing is substantially more robust. I would say too, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

This is about me being disciplined in my focus and the things that matter and that I can affect, and letting go of the rest. Probably third, it’s a quote by [unintelligible 00:35:43] “Speak with your life, not just your words.” It’s an expression of the fact that I’m a very action oriented person, and I believe in showing and doing above speaking, and experimenting and trying things out. Those are three that I use to guide my life.

[00:36:12] Kate: Thank you very much. Eric, thank you so much for the session today. I really appreciate your time. I know our listeners will really appreciate, not only strategies in which they can effectively implement quickly but also the thought leadership that goes into that, of really taking that function, that whole integrated holistic approach, to this view that is bringing humans back into the workplace. That we are humans first and foremost, and having that need to have a whole life, and work be part of it. I really appreciate your thoughts. I love the strategies you are putting into the DaVita Village is fantastic.

The fact that you could come up so eloquently with three rules to live by so quickly, I’m very inspired and impressed. So, thank you very much.

[00:37:04] Eric: Thank you so much for the opportunity to share, Kate, it was really a pleasure.


[00:37:16] Kate: Thanks for listening and spending time with us. I hope you enjoyed the interview with Eric. For a transcribed version of this show, head over to, B-E-N-I.F-I-T, forward slash, Podcast. This is the start of conversations that begin to identify the best practices of when humans thrive companies prosper. If you would like to recommend anyone for the show, please email me at [email protected], I-N-F-O @ B-E-N-I.F-I-T. Thank you.

[00:37:59] [END OF AUDIO]


How 4 Companies Use Compensation Benefits to Motivate Employees

Everyone knows compensation packages matter. Companies know they have to pay employees enough to allow them to live comfortably and stay motivated at work. But, companies now are thinking beyond traditional salaries to motivate employees.

By developing steady ways to keep money flowing in the office, companies can show employees they have opportunities to earn money on top of their salaries. This incentive can give employees an extra boost when having a rough day.

These companies found innovative ways to compensate employees above and beyond their salaries. From random bonuses to stock options, employees at these companies can stay on their toes and look at their computers with green in their eyes.

Random Bonuses

Elite Transit Solutions, a shipping and logistics management service, awards bonuses to employees randomly. The company says this practice helps keep employees motivated. Knowing that a bonus can be awarded at any time subtly encourages employees to perform at their best level all the time.

Shared Ownership

Some Texas Roadhouse staff can say “Yee haw” to celebrate more than just having a smooth shift! They might also shout with enthusiasm after receiving some extra cash bonuses. Texas Roadhouse managers and support center employees are eligible for profit sharing, which gives them a designated percentage of annual profits. There’s no cap on the percentage the bonuses pay. So, employees get to share in the success of the company, giving them an incentive to want to make it even more successful.

Long-Term Incentive Bonus

All full time employees at Concho Resources, a oil and gas exploration and production company are eligible for yearly grants of shares of the company’s stock.

Bonuses Year Round

Employees at O.C. Tanner Company enjoy a consistent cycle of bonuses through the year. Not all of the bonuses are performance-related either! Employees receive benefits from profit sharing twice per year. They also receive holiday bonuses, including $300 in cash for Christmas, $100 for Thanksgiving. Employee birthdays are holiday’s too! On their special day, employers receive $100 cash.

Compensation can be tricky. But, having opportunities for employees to earn extra money on top of their annual salaries helps satisfy and challenge money-motivated employees. Compensation benefits don’t look over people who aren’t motivated by more money either. At the end of the day, who doesn’t love to pocket some extra cash, right?

At, we believe benefits packages can tell your company’s story: the story of your values, the story of your culture and the story of your future. No two companies are exactly alike, but you too can find and incorporate incredible compensation benefits into your business. That’s what we’re here for. We come alongside companies of all sizes, partnering with them to create the best, most comprehensive, most creative benefits package for their employees.

If you’re struggling to retain good talent or feeling like you can’t compete with large companies with seemingly endless resources, we’ve got good news for you. We can help. Contact us today to speak with a benefits consultant about how you can be on the track to attracting and retaining happy, loyal employees.


Arte Nathan, Former CHRO of Wynn Resorts on The Benifit

the benefitArte Nathan is a veteran in the human resources industry. With more than 30 years in high level human resources positions including serving as the CHRO of Wynn Resorts and the Vice President of HR at Mirage Resorts.

As the president and Chief Operating Officer of Strategic Development Worldwide, a business consulting firm, Arte helps companies overcome challenges in staffing and operations by getting to the core of what they need. More often than not, that’s learning how to inspire, engage and motivate their employees.

In this episode of The Benifit, host Kate King chats with Arte about the evolution of HR responsibilities and thought. Arte shares stories from his life and career in a candid, fun conversation. You’ll want to listen to every second of this episode!

The Benifit is a podcast that demonstrates that when humans thrive, companies prosper. Kate interviews executives from some of the world’s most innovative companies for insights into how they enable their employees to thrive.

Show Highlights

[01:20] Arte talks about why it’s important people are comfortable in the workplace

[03:10] Arte shares what led to his epiphany that people need to be rewarded and recognized for what they do right.

[06:38] Arte talks about why it’s important to tell employees WHY they should do something

[13:11] Arte gives his rundown of the most important benefits employers should provide

[13:25] “I think employers have to help employees get the stuff that they need to live their lives the way they want.”

[15:22] Arte explains why he thinks employers should provide and support education for their employees

[17:10] Arte talks about why it’s an employers job to mold employees into good workers

[18:08] “Everybody’s skills can be developed if they have the right attitude.”

[18:30] Arte talks about why he hires people with criminal backgrounds

[19:20] “I think you have to look for people that are underemployed and make yourself attractive enough that they will pick up more employment with you.”

[21:50] “People from all backgrounds in all situations appreciate a chance.”

[22:11] Arte shares the three truths he lives by

[23:25] Arte talks about keeping a positive attitude

[27:00] Arte shares about his personal practice of writing out quotes and mantras

[31:14] Arte says his brand of HR can be summed up in the word inspirational


The Benifit Interview with Arte Nathan, Former CHRO of Wynn Resorts and President of Strategic Development Worldwide


[00:00:05] Kate King: Hi, this is Kate King, host of The Benefit, where every episode we dive in and explore companies and how they enable employees to thrive. I am joined today by Arte Nathan. He’s the founder of The Art of Motivation, and a former SVP and Chief HR officer at Wynn Resorts and a TEDx speaker. He discusses hiring for attitude and then training for skill, enabling second chances, and has an incredibly inspiring morning routine.

First, we thank you and welcome, Arte, for joining me today. I’m going to start with a quote by Steve Wynn who said, “Treat people right and your short, medium and long-term talent issues will resolve themselves.” A key challenge for companies that we partner with is the acquisition and retention of key talent. What, in your opinion, do companies need to do to enable people to thrive and actually stay in a company?

[00:01:04] Arte Nathan: I think you have to treat them with respect. I think you have to create an environment of trust, and I think you have to make them very comfortable with who they are, and where they are.

[00:01:16] Kate: Okay, tell me a bit more about that; who they are and where they are. I love that piece.

[00:01:20] Arte: Early on, we had to decide what we were looking for in our employees and it wasn’t obvious back in the 1980s because no one was really talking about these things or researching them. But over a couple of years, we came up with this idea that we would hire for attitude and train for skill. Once we figured that out, we had to define what those attitudes were and how to find them or, at least, how to spot them. We came up with this idea that we wanted people that were generally optimistic. Earlier on, we defined it as people who liked being interrupted and were good with an interruption and would smile their way through it.

But that just meant that those people were comfortable with themselves, comfortable with their environment, liked who they worked for, and were able to then bring that personality to the fore. People who are scared where they work, people who are uncomfortable or not aware of what all they have to do can’t get comfortable, and if they’re not comfortable, they can’t be confident. All of those things went into building a culture at Wynn that made people believe that this was a good place to work, so they were going to make a good commitment to it. That makes sense?

[00:02:45] Kate: Yes, absolutely. I love that because it’s only now I start to see a lot of companies start talking about purpose and what they want from people. Typically, I’ve always gone to resume and skillset versus that intrinsic value of who are you coming to it, what are you about, and then, “Okay, we can train for skills.” I love that. Go ahead.

[00:03:10] Arte: The skills within that they bring with them, that’s of interest but secondarily, because most good companies will teach you what they want you to do and how to do it. That’s just common sense. People want to be told what’s this all about and once they understand that — once they have the context, I think that they will get comfortable and work harder. We have this notion– I said this back in 1989, that employee satisfaction was linked to customer satisfaction which was linked to profitability. If you believe that, then you would put all of your efforts into employee satisfaction and the rest would take care of itself as Steve said.

We’ve made a lot of deposit into our employee relations account over the years, some in terms of policy, some in terms of benefits, some in terms of behaviors. And all told, those were the things that made people want to stay with us. I did a research project back in the mid ’80s of why people left our original company, The Golden Nugget. We found out that there was, at that time, a high turnover among guestroom attendants, the people that cleaned the rooms.

When I asked about a hundred of them why they left, they basically said, “Look, you’re very good at catching us when we do wrong, but how about if you catch us when we do things right?” That was one of those epiphanies that changed our entire philosophy. Because prior that, we were writing people up and trying to change their behaviors that way when, in fact, the best way to do that is what you learn in Psychology 101, which is the behaviors you want repeated, just pay attention to that and people will repeat those.

We started catching people doing things right. We expanded that from housekeeping to the rest of the company. It literally changed the way we did business. Now, you go back to things that Steve Wynn said over the years when he hired me and for several years after that, he said, “HR is not a department; it is the department.” It is the way that we do business. And all of us have to understand that and buy into those concepts.

I was just a facilitator rather than some HR guy standing on the sidelines shouting policies. Our managers got into it. As our turnover went down, our employee morale, and productivity, and satisfaction went up, and our customer satisfaction went through the roof. That’s when we opened Mirage and we were off to the races at that point.

[00:06:08] Kate: Fantastic. There’s two great examples, I think, of probably pioneer thinking. If you think, today, they’re coming out with books around focus on your strengths, really focus on everybody, what they’re doing well not what they’re doing badly. That’s what, early 2000s, everybody was talking about that, not really back in the ’80s, so that’s really a pioneer thinking of bringing employee and customer voice together. I think that’s a fantastic example of people thriving.

[00:06:38] Arte: Let me add one more thing. There were two key things that we did policy-wise or philosophy-wise. This catching people doing things right was one; but the second one was just as impactful. Steve Wynn one day said, “I think employees want to know why.” If people know why, basically, they understand the context of things, then they can make up their minds whether to do it or not. But if you just tell them to do things like a parent telling their kids to, “Clean your room,” and they say, “Why?”, and you say, “Because I’m your parent and I said so.” Well, it didn’t work there and it doesn’t work in the workplace either.

In 19, I think it was ’91 or ’92, we implemented a policy that managers had to explain why whenever they get a directive or said something. If they couldn’t or wouldn’t, he told employees they could just say no. It turned into what was just going to be planned insubordination. Well no, it forced managers to think, and to plan, and to articulate, and then to listen, and then to resolve; all those things you want managers to do.

Now, many companies, we were one of them, we tried to teach all those things but nobody understood why I had to communicate well, or I had to listen well, or I had to resolve things well. Well, just by saying, “Look, we’re going to explain why,” and, “This is how it works,” our managers, who were a little concerned at first, found out that employees weren’t insubordinate. They were, in fact, more understanding and they, in fact, got more comfortable.

What that resulted in is that people felt that we were fair. Now between catching them doing things right and explaining why they thought we were a very fair management team, and thus, they trusted us. If they trusted us, there was a degree of mutual respect that allowed everything to work well. I wish it was more complicated than that but it isn’t. It is just that simple and all companies can do it. Whether they want to, whether they will back it up with their actions is another thing altogether.

But it’s not something you have to buy a management application. It’s not something you have to do a great deal of training. It’s just something that works because that’s how people like to interact with one another.

[00:09:11] Kate: How long did it take for managers to go through that change, because that’s a real change for managers in themselves, right?

[00:09:19] Arte: Yes. Each of those two things took us approximately a year to work through. Now, we were a growing company. A lot of people were joining us brand new, hence, they were bringing their habits and practices from other places. It took a long time to get around to everybody. It wasn’t a heavy-handed thing. It was Mr. Wynn and a bunch of us saying, “This really works. We’ll practice this with you and you can practice this with others.”

It turned out to be so successful that by 1992, we were recognized on that Forbes list is the second most popular company to work for. There was all kinds of good things going on. But for us, it was all about if we reduced turnover, then we increased people’s understanding of our business and our customers and they would become more productive and the business will do well all the way around. Steve Wynn was right. For a guy like me to have that kind of support, it made HR a pleasure.

[00:10:30] Kate: Fantastic, thank you. One of the things you mentioned about HR being “the people”, being “the department”, we hear a lot now that HR is really going away. That the HR function has lost its way. What does an HR person do? Do they just enforce policy? I think in your examples, you’ve used that ready HR is meant to light the way, to really enable people to tune in to their purpose, to their being empowered in the work place. If you’re dealing with say a CEO or you’re talking to a CEO about the role of HR, what would you say to that?

[00:11:12] Arte: HR has to be the way that all of the managers do business. You should delegate all of the authority, and responsibility, and accountability to managers because they’re the ones on the floor on the firing line, they’re the ones that know the nuances of things that they’re dealing with. HR cannot know that. HR is only good at building tools and teaching people how to use them. Then monitoring their use and helping people to improve if they’re not maximizing the utility.

HR can’t make a decision anywhere. They can’t hire anybody, they can’t fire anybody, they can’t put them out or bring them back for more grief, and they certainly can’t motivate them. All that goes on between the employee and their direct manager or supervisor. If that relationship is good, and it has to be good, then all good things flow from it because management can’t get between the employee and the manager, just like management can’t get between the employee and a customer.

At those moments, those individuals have to be inspired, and motivated, and knowledgeable, and competent, and then they do good work. I spent my entire career delegating HR responsibilities to line management. Of course, I had to train them, I had to build the tools, I had to show them how to do it, I had to monitor, I had to catch them when they did it right and congratulate them with all kinds of awards, and I had to cautiously and quietly coach them to be better when they were not using them effectively.

[00:12:59] Kate: Fantastic, thank you. Arte, we’re going to switch gears a bit if that’s okay. In your TEDx talk you mentioned that a good deed is in its own reward because if you can you absolutely should, and I really loved to that saying, “If you can, you should do it.” What’s the rundown of benefits that companies should offer their employees with that mindset?

[00:13:23] Arte: Well, there’re two kind of benefits. There are resource benefits that we’ve been talking about and there are the other benefits that people work to an employer to provide. Whether their insurance, or time off, or education, those kinds of things. I think employers have to help employees get the stuff that they need to work their lives the way they want. In some cases, that is just being satisfied with themselves and comfortable with what they’re doing. That’s the soft stuff. The benefits– employers incident after the Second World War have been– they’ve been the ones having to flip the bill and provide insurance benefits.

It’s awkward because they’re not portable, so we create this thing called Cobra, which is not permanent, and so employees are always worried because I think insurance benefits anyways are almost as important as wages in many cases. Employees have to know that those things are available. But I think, some time, hopefully in the near future, we’ll figure this out by having a single player organization in America that will provide benefits and take that off the table because employers competing on benefits, it’s not fair. Either they have or don’t have the money, in one way, they’re okay, in the other way they’re not, and that’s not fair to the employee, the employer, or the customers.

So I think that government, as long as we’re talking about health care reform, ought to really take the time to figure this out. I think that’s a benefit that absolutely is necessary but I’m not sure it’s an employer-necessary thing just because we’ve always done it their way. The other benefit I think the employers should provide for people is education. They need to know how to do what they need to do and that’s a pretty simple education proposition and employers should be somehow motivated and incented to do that, they’re not right now.

So I think education is something that employers have to provide and make sure that people have enough to do what they need to do and have enough to get ahead if they’re interested in that. So I think motivating employers to provide those things is important. I also think that employers have to provide opportunities to the people that they have. And I’m not sure that promotion policies in all companies really respect and understand that. The two go hand in hand, education and promotions. Those two policies are critical, those two benefits are critical to creating a workforce that is confident, and competent, and happy to be where they are.

[00:16:40] Kate: The base one, health, then education, and then looking for that empowerment or growth are the key benefits you would look to?

[00:16:49] Arte: Yes. Yet to work with your management, they have to understand the benefits of doing this. There is this notion that there’s a award for talent. If I ask managers, and I do this all the time, what’s your number one problem? They always say I can’t find good health. Well, the problem is they don’t know what good health looks like and they don’t know what they have to do to develop people into being good employees.

It’s not a passive thing. It’s not I pay you and you should be good. It is I do a lot of things that create an environment where you want to be good and you, in fact, are good. It’s not a simple thing but it’s not rocket science either. If it was, I could charge you a lot more for my consulting [unintelligible 00:17:36].

[00:17:36] Kate:  Absolutely, so just going back to that, I’m sitting down with you and you say yes, I say to you I can’t find help. What do you say in that situation?

[00:17:49] Arte: The first thing I say, “What are you looking for in the next person you hire?” If you really probe for a little bit and deeply, most managers will say, “I’m looking for somebody that will come to work.” First and foremost, I need somebody to come to work and then I need him to work hard and care a lot. What’s that got to do with the skills that you tell me that you’re looking for? The fact of the matter is that everybody’s skills can be developed if they had the right attitude. So I say, look for attitude, don’t look for skills, and you will start to find that the applicant pool, all of a sudden, got richer.

You said you watch my TED talk, you got to go fishing where applicants are [unintelligible 00:18:33], the unemployment rate drops in America, which it has over the last 18 months, people are frightened that there’s nobody out there but while you’re looking out, as you saw, I made an interesting career out of hiring people with criminal backgrounds. People that others had left behind because we have background checks and we normally don’t accept people like that, but people who have earned the right to a second chance and want their second chance, absolutely, will do everything in their power to make the most of it. And so they come to work every day, they’ll never take a day off, they’ll never say no, they’ll never do anything to risk their freedom ever again.

Those kinds and there’s hundreds of thousands of people who get out of jail every year that could realistically go into this applicant pool. I think that you have to look for people who are underemployed and make yourselves attractive enough that they will pick up more employment with you. I think we have to absolutely go back and look at the retirees, The Graying of America symptom– people are living into their 80’s, they don’t want to retire when they’re 60. People like me don’t mind working for a longer period of time.

But in the ’60s, when they passed all the anti-discrimination legislation, the most important one was age discrimination because it is still the most common litigation in America that people feel that they’ve been discriminated against because of their age. Almost all the other things have been worked out. But we got to get over this age thing that the youth are the only way to the future. Now, interestingly, there’s more millennials than baby boomers today. But millennials and traditionals have a lot of the same attitudes and maybe we should start looking at both groups with a greater interest in making sure that we put most of them to work.

There’s no reason to be afraid of people who are millennials and there’s no reason to be afraid of people who are old, older or retired. But we have stereotypes in our heads and we got to get over those things. When people say they can’t find good help, they get through with me, they know that there’s a lot of good help out there and they can take advantage of them. But frankly, that’s almost the basis of what I do with employers today.

[00:21:15] Kate: Yes, I know. Listening to a TEDx talk, I think taking our hats off to Tony, Hosey, Donald, and Derek. I think they were great, great stories of that second chance and really coming in every day not missing that day of work. Really engaged them purposeful about the opportunity they had on the company they were working for and also a lot of gratefulness, I think, in the stories that you were telling on both sides.

[00:21:44] Arte: I laughed about that talk because I chose 4 out of, maybe, 4,000 that I have. They all fit into that same genre of “give somebody a chance”. People from all backgrounds, in all situations appreciate a chance. It’s not a big deal to do it, but surprisingly so, few do it. I don’t know.

[00:22:12] Kate: Yes, but thank you very much. I have two questions if you have time and this is switching gear more to–

[00:22:17] Arte: I do.

[00:22:18] Kate: – thank you. This is switching gear more to you. And that is, can you tell us the three truths that you live by?

[00:22:26] Arte: Help others and you’ll help yourselves. I mentioned that in the TED talk. Helping others is– as kids growing up, we wanted in our religious studies, and I learned it in the ’60s, it is so important to help others, it’s so important to give back every opportunity that you can. That’s one truth and it’s all wrapped up in that. The second is do good work. We have options all the time. Everything, every moment, every day, there’s an option. We can get into it or not.

And I think doing good work, being engaged, being positive is so important. Most of us suffering from the depression of one sort or another, but it can be worked through if you can get and keep a positive attitude. That’s the second thing I live by and maybe it’s the second and third because keeping a good attitude, it’s so hard.

The news that we read, the things that we see all the time get us down and yet somehow we got to pick ourselves back up and others can help but unless we initiate that. It is not going to work unless we believe in that, it won’t happen. Being self-motivated is so important.

People used to come and– everybody wanted to come to Steve Wynn’s properties and get a tour. I used to be the guy who gave the tour of the back of the house and everybody said, “Boy, you’re so happy, you’re so positive.” There were days I wanted to kill myself. There were days that it was hard to get out of bed, there were days that the pressures seemed insurmountable. But if you just stop and think how lucky we are and the great — I guess it’s this glass is half full not half empty. And maybe that’s the third thing. You got to see it that way.

People say, “I’m sick and tired of your happy attitude.” I don’t know any other way. I can’t get through the day if I don’t start with that and try to maintain that and go to bed with that. It’s just– life is tough. Work is tough. Everything’s tough, but so what. What’s the alternative [laughs]? That’s what I say. Does that answer your question?

[00:25:12] Kate: Yes it does. Thank you very much. I have one last one for you, if that’s okay. We hear a lot about morning routines and what people do first thing in the morning, sets them up for their day. I ask this question because I’m always intrigued by, do people really do the morning routines that you hear about over social media today? I always ask my guests, because I’m always intrigued by their morning routine, as to what they do when they first wake up.

[00:25:46] Arte: This is interesting. Nine years ago, I had a client who I worked with to develop their mission, and their vision, and their values. We came up with ten values. Teamwork, professionalism, there’s ten of them. We came up with this idea that we would have pre-shift meetings everyday with every employee.

Part of those meetings would be spent on just talking a little bit about, what’s our values? What can we do with our value today that will make what we do a little bit better. It sounded like an interesting idea. The clients said to me can you write a little something that we could use in our pre-shift meetings. This was nine years ago. What I would do is I would take one of the values and I would look up a quote that generally applied to that value. I would write 200 words about what I believed in or what I had done in the past that helped me to use that value to be better that day or that year, that week, whatever. I wrote these, and that assignment went on for a couple of years.

That assignment ended but I was in there everyday writing these statements, getting these quotes and writing these statements. I started publishing them. What they turned out to be for me was a morning meditation. Now what I would do is, at night, I would go get the quote. I would have a value in my mind and I’d get a quote. I would quick write 200 words about that quote and I would write it. It’d take me about 20 minutes.

The next morning at 5:30, I would get up, and I would read that quote, and I would read what I wrote. I would edit it a little bit, but that would be my mantra for today. Nine years later, I’m still writing them. I can’t get away from them because I can’t start my day without this personal affirmation of thinking about good things and trying to remember to do good things and suggesting some good things to others.

Now, I walk a lot. I walk five or six miles a day. I like to do that in the morning, but I can’t walk until I have finished and sent this quote to– right now, it goes to over 18,000 people. I can’t get away from it. People write to me all the time, “Could you put my friend on,” “Could you add somebody else I know,” or, “Could I get on.” There are days that, “Should I do it?” But if I don’t do it, I’m like a half a guy walking around that day.

It’s funny you ask what do you do. Many people meditate. Many people will go to church or synagogue and pray. A lot of people will exercise, but all of those things have to do with putting something up here. You know thinking about something. Can I do that, or is that important, or how should I be?

If we’re not reaffirming our values everyday, if we’re not making and remaking a commitment to those values everyday, what if we lose them? What if we somehow find that someday we don’t have any values? That scares the heck out of me. I’m stuck doing these things everyday. You send me your email address, I’ll send you these. You won’t believe it.

I see people all the time, all around the world who say thank you for this. They start repeating my stories, and I’ve got some crazy stories of the things I’ve done. Things that I’ve seen and things that I’ve experienced. That’s what I write about. This week, my quotes were about passion, last week was professionalism, next week is pride, before professionalism was ownership and responsibility, then it goes back to teamwork, and excellence, and creativity. It’s crazy, and I’ll probably do these until I die.

[00:30:15] Kate: I love it, I really love it, I think that’s very inspirational. Do you notice a difference between pre-nine-years of doing it and post with it?

[00:30:24] Arte: Yes. In some ways, people say, “Well, you’re full of it,” this is a [unintelligible 00:30:32] because I’m also a preacher. I’ll tell you one last story, when I got out of college, I wanted to go to grad school, my mother and father wanted me to o to law school, I wanted to become a rabbi. I applied to the seminary, I got in, and I got into law school. The head of the seminary talked me out of it on the premise that you have to be religious to become a rabbi. I just wanted to do good work and he said, “Why don’t you become a social worker?”

Anyway, I went to law school, I didn’t like it, I quit, and I became an HR guy, full time, and HR is the middle between the law and the [unintelligible 00:31:10]. It’s so funny that my whole life has been balanced on these two ideas that I had years ago. I guess I do this because it’s part of what’s inside of me, it’s my DNA. Somebody once asked me, “What’s one word that you can say that defines your brand of HR?” I said inspirational, and I really believe that. Steve Wynn allowed me to do a lot of good work and to inspire a lot of people to think to do the same, and because of that, it was a great career.

[00:31:50] Kate: Arte, thank you so very much. I know we’re over time, I really appreciate spending this time with you today, what a magical morning routine. I’m definitely going to sign up and have our listeners, of course, have the opportunity to sign up to. But thank you very much indeed for your time.

[00:32:08] Arte: Thank you, I appreciate it.


[00:32:14] Kate: Firstly, thanks for listening and spending time with us today, I hope you enjoyed the interview with Arte. For a transcribed version of this show, head over to benifit/podcast B-E-N-I.F-I-T/podcast. This is the stir of conversations that begin to identify the best practices of when human thrived companies prosper. If you would like to recommend anyone for the show, please email me at [email protected], [email protected]

[00:32:51] [END OF AUDIO]


Benefits For Remote Employees: Lessons From Buffer 

The number of remote employees is growing. Fast. As the workplace changes, employees are creating demand for more flexible schedules. Telecommuting used to be seen as a thing some companies did. The concept of not going into an office daily was strange for some, but soon, the term telecommuting, or working-from-home became commonplace.

Now, some companies are going entirely remote with employees working from places all over the country and often, the world. This brings a new slew of challenges for companies as they try to cater to the needs of remote and non remote workers.

While it may seem like people who prefer a less traditional work style may not care about the traditional, “stuffy” employee benefits, the opposite is true. These individuals also want be supported and motivated by benefits and perks from their job. Telecommuting may seem like the biggest perk of all, but companies embracing remote workers have created all kinds of creative benefits for these employees.

Buffer is no exception. The social media management company has a fully distributed team, with 72 employees spread throughout the world.

Office perks like ping pong table or a kitchen stocked with tasty snacks and drinks are out of the question.

Still, the company gives intentional, value-based benefits and perks to it’s employees around the world.

Free Kindle Books and a Fitness Tracker

One of Buffer’s values is self-improvement. All employees get a free Kindle and free, unlimited Kindle books when they join the team. They also receive a fitness tracker bracelet that monitors their steps and their sleep. Team members join an app to see one another’s progress and have virtual “water cooler” discussions about how they’re improving.


While employees may not gather in an office regularly, they can still feel a part of the company. Literally. Employees are eligible to own stock in the company and become part-owners.

Learning & Development Stipend

Back to that good ol’ self-improvement value! Buffer employees receive a small stipend from the company to use towards any course or training they choose. The company says the stipend helps encourage employees to be their best selves.

Unlimited Time-Off

It may seem intuitive that a company that allows employees to live and work from wherever they choose would allow them to take as much time off as they choose. That intuition is correct. Buffer encourages employees to give themselves a break regularly.

Work Remotely

This is arguably the most best perk on the list. Buffer employees can literally work from anywhere they choose. Some employees cited traveling the world while working for Buffer. Others say they feel more productive working at home. In a blog post on the company’s website, employees wrote that the freedom to work remotely feels like the future. They say that in a few years, the company’s setup will be commonplace.

Retreats Around The World

We’re not talking your average hotel convergence or retreat by the lake. (Though those are great options!). Buffer employees attend annual International retreats. They’ve been held in Madrid, Spain, Cape Town, South Africa, and New York City.

While a fully remote model may not be a great fit for everyone, flexible work options can be incorporated into any company.

These perks excite Buffer employees. What do your employees need? At Beni.ift, we believe employee benefits are a great way for companies to communicate their values. We partner with companies to create creative, comprehensive benefits packages customized to their unique needs. Let us show you just how powerful benefits can be in keeping your employees happy, healthy and loyal. Contact us today.


Benefits and Values: A Look Into How The Honest Company Aligns Them

The idea that companies can and should offer employee benefits and perks that align with their values is gaining ground. Now, it’s not uncommon to find companies thinking beyond the traditional benefits, like 401Ks and health insurance.

Getting creative about how to connect employees to the company’s values can be fun and incredibly rewarding. You don’t have to be the biggest, most established company to begin thinking along these lines. Taking time now to be intentional about aligning benefits and values will have you reaping a consistent harvest of happy, loyal, motivated employees.

The Honest Company prides itself on being a healthy lifestyle brand committed to making safe, responsible, accessible and effective products. The company, founded by actress Jessica Alba, also values educating it’s customers and community.

The company’s mission statement says this:

We’re a wellness brand with values rooted in consciousness, community, transparency and design. And we’re on a mission to empower people to live happy, healthy lives. Every day and in every way, we hold ourselves to an Honest standard. Because we believe that what you put on, in and around your body matters. A lot.

Here’s a look at some of the perks and benefits The Honest Company offers it’s employees that align with its values:


Employees get to participate in monthly company-wide volunteer activities organized by The Honest Company’s Social Goodness Department. In addition, the company matches dollars to every hour employees volunteer with organizations outside of work. Clearly, social consciousness and social goodness permeate the company culture.


The Honest Company prioritizes community in the workplace by encouraging celebration and fun regularly. Employees can attend quirky social events to hang out with their fellow employees. From parking lot concerts, to carnivals, to ping-pong tournaments and Crock-pot wars, The Honest Company makes sure employees have something fun to look forward to eery month! The company also believes in celebrating the “tiny moments,” hosting birthday festivities, baby showers and team happy hours.


It makes sense that a company with the word “Honest” in it’s name would value transparency! One way this plays out is through The Honest Company’s health and wellness initiatives. The company offers subsidies for gym memberships or reimburses employees for their plans. Additionally, the company keeps its kitchens fully stocked with healthy snacks and beverages. (Guess you won’t find your favorite soda-pop or Cheetos there!) From on-tap sparkling water, to freshly fruit and veggies, to weekly Kombucha deliveries, The Honest Company honestly wants it’s employees to live their healthiest lives.


You can never underestimate the role a space’s vibe and design can play in how employees feel at work! The Honest Company’s headquarters look like a “Pinterest board come to life.” The building features recreational rooms with ping-pong tables and cornhole setups, relaxing spaces with couches and newspapers, live plants, lots of natural light and collaborative workspaces. Working in a beautiful, uplifting space that encourages productivity and collaboration gets employees excited to come to work. It can also help them hone into their work and place the cares of their everyday lives on pause while in the space.

The Honest Company keeps their values at the forefront of the perks and benefits they offer their employees. And, the stats are in! 94% of employees said the company had a great atmosphere and 83% say it has great rewards according to a survey taken by the Great Place to Work Institute. 

We at believe benefits don’t have to be boring. We love partnering with companies to create custom, personalized benefits packages that align with their company’s culture and are sure to keep their employees happy. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you reap the benefits of an amazing employee benefits package.


5 Employee Benefits That Demonstrate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility is a huge buzzword these days. The idea that companies should do their part to be good, responsible, sustainable citizens is no longer a bizzare or hippie-like idea. More and more companies are embracing corporate social responsibility and aligning with causes to help use their resources to make the world a better place.

Many employees now expect their companies to be responsible and an organization’s commitment to social responsibility can be a huge draw for candidates looking to work somewhere that aligns with their values. Firms can communicate their values through their benefits packages. Empowering and supporting employees to pursue and support causes they believe through benefits can be a great way to attract passionate, talented people and make room for social consciousness in the workplace.

Here are 5 companies with employee benefits that demonstrate social responsibility:

Grants For Your Favorite Charitable Organizations

Denim icon Levi Strauss & Co encourages employees to volunteer and serve on the boards of nonprofits. These passionate employees engaged in the nonprofit sector can apply for a yearly Community Service Grant for their organization. The grants can be up to $1,200 per year.

Substantial Paid Time Off to Volunteer

Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk gives employees 80 hours (a record 10 days per year) of paid time off to volunteer. The company is incredibly dedicated to community service, with the value engrained in every part of it’s operations. Company meetings offsite generally involve a community service component. The company even has a social awareness team that’s responsible for organizing meaningful community service opportunities. Additionally, the company has an internal portal to help it’s staff find volunteering opportunities. Talk about being intentional! Giving employees 10 days to volunteer gives them the freedom to truly make an impact in the community!

3:1 Gift Matching for Donations to Higher Education

Oil and gas giant ExxonMobil supports employees, retirees and surviving spouses in giving to their favorite higher education institutions by matching contributions 3:1. The company will match up to $7,500 of donations to U.S. colleges and universities, including some minority colleges and universities.

Incentive to Buy a Hybrid, Natural Gas or Electric Vehicle

Bank of America is committed to sustainable energy sources. and supporting energy alternatives to gas and coal. The company offers it’s employees $3,000 to buy a hybrid, natural gas or electric vehicle. Eligible employees can also receive a $500 discount for employees investing in getting a solar rooftop installed by SolarCity.

Bonus For Moving Closer to Work

Facebook encourages employees to be environmentally-conscious by offering $10,000 bonuses to those who move closer to it’s corporate campus in Silicon Valley. This perk helps reduce the number of employees stuck in the Bay Area’s notoriously bad traffic. It also recognizes the environmental impact of long commutes and encourages employees to better their lives (and the environment) by moving closer to work.

Each of these companies started with a value and created incentives for employees to embrace those values. From environmental consciousness to support for higher education to renewable energy sources, your company can create a culture of action, service and responsibility through values-inspired benefits.

Benefits go beyond health insurance and retirement plans. At, we believe benefits are an incredible way to share your company’s values with employees and with the community. You don’t have to have endless resources to be able to create benefits and perks your employees will love. We can help. Contact us today to learn more about creating the perfect comprehensive benefits package for your company culture.