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Benefits Are the Bedrock of Great Company Culture

Paul Farnell is on a roll these days:

In the early days of running a startup, it’s hard to focus on things that don’t directly lead to revenue. The environment is plastic, so the little things you do can establish the foundation of a great culture. Great benefits start with the intangibles, so any effort you make to let people know you care about their well-being is appreciated.

Our industry’s misguided focus on being data-driven and seeing a return on investment has lead many companies to be short-sighted in this regard. If it’s numbers you want, interestingly (and not surprisingly) there’s a financial case to be made for great benefits:

Speaking of money, there is a financial case to be made for great benefits. You can measure benefits against employee retention to see if you’re doing it right.

Lazlo Bock, head of People Operations at Google, explained the causal relationship between benefits and employee retention on the Note to Self podcast. A few years ago, Google had a problem where a lot of new mothers weren’t coming back after maternity leave. As you might imagine, it’s really disruptive, time-consuming and expensive to replace great people.

Google extended maternity leave by two more months (still at full pay) and boom — their problem was solved. Retention rates improved by 50%, new mothers had more time at home and the company was saving money.

Sad this has to be said isn’t it? You treat people well, they’ll feel like their life is better by working at your company. They’ll stay. Now you don’t have to use your precious money that you love so much to find other people. It’s so logical, I don’t understand how companies don’t get it. Businesses that don’t treat their employees well prove to be working against their own interests.