BOLD&BEYOND by OVIAVO: Inclusive benefits in the workplace

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An exclusive event around inclusive benefits

For the very first BOLD&BEYOND event, we brought together 25 HR leaders from all over Europe while mixing a delicious ‘Rosemary Kumquat Gin & Tonic cocktail’ in a digital bar atmosphere.

Our three amazing panellists took the stage and guided the participants through the evening: Anna Brandt (Founder, ex-Head of Talent Acquisition Uber, ex-Head of Talent Acquisition Mollie), Noor van Boven (Founder, ex-CHRO N26, ex-VP People Soundcloud) and Ingeborg van Harten (Chief People Officer Payaut, ex-Head of People Mollie) discussed what inclusive benefits mean to them, why they matter, how they have implemented them at their respective companies and which impact those initiatives had.

Inclusive benefits OVIAVO
HR leaders of the BOLD&BEYOND event on April 29, 2021

According to Noor van Boven, inclusive benefits are “everything that underlines and support inclusive activities”. Because when you take care of them, they support your diversity & inclusion effort. But if you don’t, they can undermine everything you do in that field. Obviously, inclusive benefits are not the only factor that influences how inclusive a company is, but it’s an important element of the mix.

As Noor van Boven puts it, “Every employer has a social impact responsibility. Embrace it. And it also extends to what you offer to your workforce. (…) Inclusive benefits play a core role in the social responsibility that you have. It’s inevitable. Your employees will push you into it very soon. So you better be ahead of it”.

There is a huge bandwidth of benefits that can support your company in living its values such as inclusion and diversity. But there is no one-size-fits-all approach. “Different scales of organisations ask for different setup when it comes to benefits depending on what’s affordable and also, what’s the need of the different employee groups”, Anna Brandt confirms.

Interestingly, it is not always the cost-saving that makes a benefit attractive for employees.

Noor says: “It’s not about the money. All the people could afford a nanny themselves. But it’s not about that, right?! For some people, it meant: “Ok, I work a lot of hours, but once a month, date night is back”.

Ingeborg van Harten confirms: “Even if they don’t use it, the knowledge that it’s available will often be enough for them to think about the company more positively”.

Ingeborg further goes: “If no one uses it, then it doesn’t cost us anything either. But it might retain a few people that we otherwise would have lost. Or it might have attracted a few people that we now can’t get which taps into your difficulty in hiring”.

5 of the many key learnings of the evening:

  1. Inclusive benefits don’t have to cost a lot of money. Offering extra baby days for parents to compensate for broken nights or period leave days “only” cost time, but have a huge impact.
  2. If you let employees vote for which benefits they’d like to see, they will always vote for their personal stuff. This makes employee surveys often less useful because inclusive benefits mostly affect a small percentage of your employees.
  3. Set aside a threshold of your budget for inclusion projects and grassroots initiatives! Because it can be difficult to create a business case for inclusion benefits when only a small number of your employees is affected.
  4. Many inclusive benefits are the result of grassroots initiatives because somebody from the team has been struggling with a specific situation.
  5. If you want to be an innovative company, you won’t get there by copying the benefits from less innovative companies from your industry. You have to do something differently.

Inclusive benefits drive behaviour

Introducing inclusive benefits goes way beyond the benefit itself: it drives behaviour. It fosters conversations about stigmatized or delicate topics. Or as Anna puts it: “Implementing inclusive benefits also drives people to start talking about it. It makes people aware that having parental leave alone is maybe not really inclusive but there’s more to think about, such as care leave policies for the broader group. So, it also sends a signal for people to think about it”. Of course, there was also room for the participants to exchange their own experiences which led to a vivid and really interesting conversation that could easily have gone on for another hour. Overall, the key message of the night was: You can really make a difference as HR leader! We’ll also share more learnings and insights from the event over the course of the coming weeks, so stay tuned and follow us on LinkedIn.

About the event

BOLD&BEYOND is an event series created by OVIAVO to share experiences from different HR leaders about creating inclusive benefits in the workplace. It serves as a platform to discuss bold and progressive topics that are inevitable for an inclusive work environment. Because we believe that understanding the sociodemographic trends and offering employees the support & benefits that actually matter will be the deciding factor for the workforce of tomorrow.

 
Jenny Saft

Jenny Saft

Founder of OVIAVO

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