Rebel Human Resources Podcast

Episode 89: Personalized Employee Perks with Amy Spurling

March 08, 2022 Kyle Roed, The HR Guy Season 2 Episode 88
Rebel Human Resources Podcast
Episode 89: Personalized Employee Perks with Amy Spurling
Show Notes Transcript

Personalized employee perks? Aren’t those just for executives? CEO Amy Spurling says the answer is a resounding, “Hell, no!”

Amy Spurling, founder and CEO of the HR tech company Compt, thinks perks should be a lot less exclusive. She advocates for “personalized perks” to help all employees take care of themselves and their families. She’s shaking things up in corporate America and leveling the playing field, offering her employees the same perks she has access to, and she encourages other leaders to do the same.

A seasoned executive with more than 20 years of experience in leadership roles at venture-backed companies and startups, Amy is a strong believer in leading with empathy. There’s a reason she’s been CFO three times and COO twice. She was also named Boston’s CFO of the Year in 2016 by Boston Business Journal.

She’s expecting some interesting HR trends to come in 2022 like:

  • Personalized employee perks to boost engagement, create a more inclusive work environment, and stop wasting the company budget
  • Migration from the 3 or 4 major city centers to smaller cities and towns
  • Changes to employment law to reflect the new way we work
  • More innovation in the services sector
  • The end of fully in-office work environments for tech companies

About Compt

Compt is the number one employee stipends platform that gives people the freedom to choose the lifestyle perks that they really want. Founded by a five-time CFO and COO, Compt’s employee stipend and rewards software is fully customizable to a company's needs, IRS-compliant, and can support global teams. Compt is proud to be named the #1 HR Tech platform by SHRM’s Better Workplaces Challenge. Compt is based in Cambridge, MA.

For more information, please visit https://www.compt.io/.  

Rebel HR is a podcast for HR professionals and leaders of people who are ready to make some disruption in the world of work.

We'll be discussing topics that are disruptive to the world of work and talk about new and different ways to approach solving those problems.

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Amy Spurling:

For a lot of the non birth giving parents, they may not want to be out for 12 straight weeks, you know, maybe mornings are a nightmare. And they need to do half days, three days a week just to be there to help support the transition. And maybe that carries on longer than 12 weeks. I don't care. That's great. Do what you need to do. Here's what we can afford. You design your program. And so that was really kind of where this started, where I was like, Okay, if it's parental leave, while Yeah, it kind of applies to everything else where everybody needs to be deciding their own things and not have media deciding this for them.

Kyle Roed:

This is the rebel HR Podcast, the podcast where we talk to HR innovators about all things people leadership. If you're looking for places to find about new ways to think about the world of war, this is the podcast for you. Please subscribe, favorite podcast listening platform today. And leave us a review revelon HR rebels. Alright, rebel HR listeners. We've got a great show lined up for you this week. With us. We have Amy Sperling, the founder and CEO of a cool HR tech company called comped comps things perks should be a lot less exclusive. She advocates for personalized perks to help all employees take care of themselves and their families. She's shaking things up in corporate America and leveling the playing field offering her employees the same perks that she has access to. And she encourages other leaders to do the same a seasoned exec with more than 20 years of experience in leadership roles. And she was recently named Boston, CFO of the year in 2016 by the Boston Business Journal. Thanks for joining us, Amy. Thanks for having me. So I'm super excited for the show. And I think we might have a first in our match that we have a former CFO, on the podcast, a lot of times we get a lot of really people heavy leaders, not necessarily the CFO. So so welcome to the podcast, looking forward to your diverse perspective. Thank you. I appreciate that. So before we jump into it, I'd like to understand a little bit more about your your journey. And what prompted your perspective on what why HR needs to change?

Amy Spurling:

That's a great question. So my journey is I did start on the finance side of the house early in my career, I've been part of six tech companies prior to starting this one, but managed finance and HR. And all those back when HR reported to Finance, which I'm very happy to see is not the case anymore, I think it's fantastic they have their own seat at the table is they should. But in doing that, my focus was always pulled much more to the people side versus the kind of ticking and tying the budgets, you know, you get kind of the old school CFOs that are, you know, only focused on the numbers and don't understand the impact that has on people I was I was more the opposite, I was much more focused on the people side of things. Because in any given company, I mean, that can be 80 to 95% of your costs are around your people. And so if you're not focused on how you're managing your team, and kind of the structures you're putting in place, you're really missing the mark. And so that's where I kind of had this front row seat to how compensation was changing the way, you know, candidates were negotiating for salaries and what their compensation packages look like how all of that was progressing, and kind of got to see how this whole mix started changing. You know, 80% of our compensation is salary and health insurance for a large portion of our economy. And it's the last 20% Where people differentiate companies differentiate. And that's always employee perks. But with that become is a big fat mess for both HR and for finance and get very, very low utilization for employees. So I got really frustrated, my employees were really frustrated, my HR teams were really frustrated. So I was like, Alright, it's time to go and fix the problem. Because nobody's building the solution I'm looking for right now because nobody was coming from finance or HR. It was all you know, people are like, I don't like what HR is doing, I can do it better. Here's a tool and you're like, you don't understand the 10 laws you just violated With this tool you think is amazing. Like we have to do something different.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, it's funny, you know, and it's, it's, it's one of the less flashy things about what we do in HR, but, you know, Tax and Benefit compliance is, is a pretty freakin big deal. It is especially if you screw it up, right?

Amy Spurling:

So if those things very, very wrong very quickly, so you need to have like that as the foundation that is not the fun part of it. Anybody in HR, his job or finance, like that is not the fun part of what we do. But you have to have that nailed to be able to do the cool stuff for the team. So I was like, Alright, how do you get the really high level of engagement and do all the compliance stuff that we have to have, rather than the cool stuff that just ends up creating this big mess on hrs plate that is just really unfair, quite frankly.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, you're speaking my language. And I can speak from experience of, you know, shiny Penny syndrome, right? So believe me, I love that I love a shiny Penny, right? It's like, oh, this is the coolest new thing. It's so novel. Nobody's done it before. Let's figure out a way to do it. And like, like, that's just how I think and I get excited about those things. And then And then, but you've got to have that person on your team. It's like, timeout. That's, that's bigger than de minimis. We got to make sure that that's, you know, works with our tax requirements, like, oh, yeah, you know what, that's why you're on this team.

Amy Spurling:

And you've got to figure out how you do the cool things that are you ain't gonna engage the team, the shiny Penny Penny syndrome is how the tech companies in particular got us into this employee perks mess, there are 1000s and 1000s of employee perks that are pitched to HR every single day, like everything from a new Wellness app and new mental health app with, you know, student loan forgiveness, child care, fertility benefits, you name the thing, there's some great stuff. But anything you bring in less than 10 of your Senator, your teams can even use it. Like at the height like pre pandemic, the most out there perk I saw was branded fruit, where you could buy fruit that would have your company logo on it to give to your employees, as if any employees are going to be retained by your company, because they got an apple with your logo on it. Like this is not a great employee Park. It's like pre pandemic, everybody was doing everything. Right, right? When you start looking at things now it's like, alright, it's not a let's have the breadth of all these individual things that nobody's using, we need to have a way to reach as many people as possible, how do we do that. And that's what we've seen stipends really take off in the last 18 months, because every single person needs and wants something different. And you cannot do that with individual perk vendors. It's just not possible. And so that's what we've seen a huge shift in the market. That's been really interesting.

Kyle Roed:

No, it's really interesting. And, you know, I can unreflecting, as you mentioned, that, and I'm sure many of our listeners can, can relate to this where, you know, we just wrapped open enrollment, but at the time of recording this, it's like mid November, or as I call it, HR hell month is open enrollment, you know, but I just, I can't tell you how many years it's like, let's let's, we always want to make our benefits richer, right? We're going through the open enrollment process, and we're thinking, Okay, what's going to be high impact what is really going to tell people, we care, we care about your family, we care about your experience, we care about, you know, this year, a lot of it was like burnout and mental health and, and flexibility and all those things. And so, you know, so so we rolled out, you know, some some, some new benefits this year. And, you know, I can't tell you how many times we've had a rollout where it's been, like, there's been so much excitement and energy, and we put all this communication, you know, time and energy and capital and communication strategy. And like, maybe 4% of the employees elected, right, or we look at utilization. I mean, it's so low. Yeah, I mean, so yeah, it's just

Amy Spurling:

like, every person wants something different. And then you get you get punished for it to as the leader, because you get the I don't want that, why can't I have something else? I was talking to VP of HR, who's at a pretty big biotech company recently. And he was like, I know, I'm doing my job when everyone is equally unhappy. And it's like, oh, through the heart, like I know, that's like the, the pain and suffering of HR is like, Okay, I've made everyone equally unhappy by having all these things that everyone wants something different like that. It's just just, it's not a sustainable system. And so it's how do you get to something else? Like we actually ran a study, we looked at 4500 of our users over three months and said 4500 people, three months, how many different unique vendors could they possibly use? Because if HR was going to build that in house, that's what they would have to do. Guess how many different unique vendors they used. 13 6500 Oh, my God. So imagine, no matter how many people you have, do 1.3 times the number of people on your team. That's how many vendors you'd have to have to reach personalization, we see over 90% utilization on our platform, because everyone can do something different. The point is personalization. Everyone wants to do something different. You can't do that with vendors. It's just not possible.

Kyle Roed:

So so what what is the theory then that it's that it's almost like a marketplace where you get a certain X number of dollars, you mentioned stipends, and then you go out and you You put it into your cart? Is that how it works?

Amy Spurling:

Ish. Um, there's no vendors, because whether you build the list of 6500 vendors or I build the list of 6500 vendors, no one's scrolling through 6500 vendors to find a one thing they want. So the thought process here is, as a company, focus on outcomes and focus on things you want to support, wellness, family, pets, student loan repayment, professional development, whatever the category is, but then turn it loose and let employees be grownups and decide what wellness means to them or what family means to them. Maybe family, maybe they're 22, with no kids, and no spouse yet, but maybe they want to do something nice for their aunt or their mother. You know, maybe they do have kids and they want childcare. Maybe they're pet parents, and they want to do pet insurance. It's letting the employee decide their own experience and turning that loose to them. Because you're really trying to drive that engagement engagement is that the outcome you need to be looking at because of employees aren't using this stuff? It's not a retention tool, and it doesn't attract anybody new. And so and it's the more you put in, the noisier it is, and then employees just completely check out.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, it's a really interesting approach. And I'm just, you know, one of the things that gives me anxiety in my role as a as the decider of benefits packages is, is this the right mix? Right? And, and, and there's, I mean, to be perfectly honest, a lot of times, I'm like, I don't know, right? You can't be too,

Amy Spurling:

could you possibly know, you'd have to know every single detail of every single person's life on your entire team? That's not not even appropriate. You shouldn't have that level of detail. Right? Well, and the nature of bringing an individual perks is, by nature of what they are, is XClusive, anything you bring in excludes a group, it's only inclusive for a small group of people, you bring in fertility benefits, that's only going to work for people who are at a certain stage, in their family journey, and has that need, if you bring in student loan repayment, that's only for people who have student loans who want to refinance them, it naturally excludes everyone else. Whereas if you look at stipends and say, Hey, we support family and wellness, by nature of that being a stipend, it's naturally inclusive. Everyone can use that in a way that is relevant for them. But you've been able to create the sandbox of what is important, and what's the foundational thing that as a company, you want to support, because maybe you don't want it to be like, entertainment and do whatever you want. Or, you know, maybe you don't care about pets, or whatever the thing is making it to where it's a comfortable sandbox for your team.

Kyle Roed:

It's interesting, I just had this debate this year, by the way, the pet insurance debate, which is so and and, you know, of course, the way this works is an employer is it's like, should we offer pet insurance and your you know, your benefits broker? Or maybe you go out and do your research yourself? And you're like, okay, it cost us X 1000s of dollars, how many people do we think are gonna use it? Blah, blah, blah? Do we actually pay for some of it? Or is it available for our employees to select? Right? And then ultimately, you put this you bundle this whole package together? And then you go to your CEO, CFO and say, Okay, here's what we're thinking for the benefits package? And they look through and they go, yes, no, exactly. Yes. And we literally had that. And, you know, I'm, I'm in that meeting this year, and we're talking about pet insurance, and I'm like, okay, so pet insurance. So I think people might like this, but I'm not really sure. And then it's like X, okay, you know, it's just such a, it's just not really a scientific process, right? It's certainly not personalized, right? It's, it's an educated guess. And I might be wrong.

Amy Spurling:

100% will be because again, every single person wants something different. And the the hard part is, even if you did an engagement survey and said, Here are the benefits we have, which ones do you like? Which ones would you like to see they're going to check everything and add 20. Like, we tried that, it's all of the above, it really doesn't give you any more data. And you don't know if they used it once or if they use it every single month either, which is the other hard part, which is where, from a CFO perspective, from a budget perspective, stipends are brilliant, because you can say, here's what we can afford, we can afford $100 This quarter, I don't care if you use it for your cell phone, your internet, your gym reimbursement, your babysitter, your whatever it is $100 I am not giving you 100 for each of those things. I am giving you what we can afford. You choose your own adventure. It is a lot more cost effective. And it allows the employees to decide what they want to do every single month or every single quarter and do that Choose Your Own Adventure thing. So it's just much better for both finance and HR and the employees.

Kyle Roed:

You know, what's what's really interesting about this approach? I mean, in my heads, you know, I just said I like shiny things, right? So my head's going all over the place. But the, you know, what's what's also really interesting about this approach is it reminds me of, I can't tell you how many conversations that I've had, as I've been hiring, especially people who are under the age of 26. Yep. And I talked to him about look at this benefits package, right? Like, they're so competitive, and you know, we've been fighting hard to keep premiums low, blah, blah, blah, and they're like, I'm on my insurance, I

Amy Spurling:

don't care. I really don't care. They're not gonna know. And if it's, if it's a guy, they're literally not even going to use the insurance because unless something is broken, unless an arm is dangling a wrong direction, they are not going to the doctor because men don't go to doctors. And so you hit 40. Like, for better or worse, like that's women start earlier, but they're literally not going to use it. And they're like, all right, I don't I don't care whether they're on their parents,

Kyle Roed:

I can't even be frustrated with that stereotype. Because I resemble that remark. It's like, yes, that's, that's correct. Well, it's

Amy Spurling:

not it's not it. I mean, you look at industry numbers, like, it's legitimate. Like, there's just, it's a very interesting culture here, you don't do a wellness exam other than for sports, and like high school and college, like, it's just, it's a very odd

Kyle Roed:

thing, you get 100 bucks off your insurance printer, then you'll do it right now you won't,

Amy Spurling:

they won't, less than 10% of people will even do it, then. It's interesting, one of our clients is actually an insurance brokerage. And they were doing that exact thing, like their brokerage, they know how insurance works. And they had that $100 If you go do your, you know, health risk assessment, and they pushed the team, and they pushed the team, and they pushed the team 9% of the people filled it out, got the $100, they took the same money and put it on a stipend from Comp, and said, Alright, for your wellness, you get to do this, you know, you can go get your shoes or your whatever. And they have 90% utilization, like it's the same amount of money, and you still have to do with thing to get the thing. And they'll it's just no one wants to go through their health insurance for anything. It's just a painful, painful process. That's just like, you know, what, can I just pay you to make me not do that? Don't want to, it's like calling Comcast or here? You know, Verizon, no one wants to call? I'll pay extra. Just don't make me call them.

Kyle Roed:

That's funny. Yeah, there's a couple of things that you said that I want to I want to hit on here. And I thought they were really critical. I think one of them is what I what I refer to affectionately as the EEOC approach, right, is, let's just make everybody equal and and as you described it, so Well, it's like, everybody is equally miserable, or equally frustrated. And that is, you know, I don't I can't think of a better context to think about that. And then employee benefits programs, right. 100%. It's like, it's like a race to the middle of mediocrity and being comparable to the market. And then I think the other thing that was really interesting that you mentioned, and I think, you know, the, the what we've seen over the last few years, and as you look at things like workplace flexibility and culture is you made the comment that we should treat people like grownups. And I think that, and I've been a part of organizations where unfortunately, the approach is to treat people like it's a daycare center. Right. Right. And, and not have them be accountable or take ownership of certain things. And so, so I'm curious to understand how you've seen this type of approach boost engagement, you know, so give me a couple examples of how this this can work.

Amy Spurling:

Sure. Well, I think there's there's a couple of things there on the kind of the treating people like grownups. I mean, that's what employees want. We are all grownups. And there's this weird parental dynamic that started whenever it started, I don't know, a long, long, long time ago of like, we're gifting you things, we're doing things to take care of you our employees, you know, you are our children, you get allowances, I mean, even that term allowance, I just have such a visceral reaction to where it's, we're going to figure out what your needs are, and we're going to take care of you. It's a very parental approach, which is just a bizarre thing. When you think about it, like we're all grown ups. We're all within a certain age band, you know, between 20 and 65, like, whatever. We're all adults here. Why are we being treated like there's, you know, people running HR, or suddenly the parents in the organization who have to read everyone's mind? It doesn't make a lot of sense. And I think in some cases, it's actually dangerous. As an HR professional, having to pick the mental health app that you're recommending to your entire team. I don't want that job. Like how do I know I'm not a trained, like, mental health expert? Why would I be responsible for something Like, it's just not fair to put on HR, when you start shifting that and shifting the thought process from, we're a company and we just want to take care of, you know, our children people, and thinking of more by how do we how do we make this environment so amazing for our team, that they can be their most productive selves? How do we support them, and you flip it to where it's much more of a support mechanism, and much less of a gifting kind of top down kind of approach. It changes the dynamic with employees. And that's where we see really cool things happen. So one example I can give you, actually, in one of my prior companies, where I was CFO, my expense policy, I mean, it had to have been 50 pages thick, I had a rule for everything. And every single time a salesperson submitted an expense report, they broke some new rule found an edge case, which is you know, HR is frequent nightmare, right? You put out a policy, and then everybody's gonna find the edge case, what I realized was that when you stop doing that, and trying to put all these little shackles on people, they actually do the things you wanted them to do in the first place. So what's been interesting when we look at stipends is, for the companies that want to get really, really strict, you can only use your wellness for a gym reimbursement or maybe yoga, or like there's, you know, for activities. That's where employees get really confused. And we're like, but I wanted Lasik eye surgery, I had one company that was like, No, that's not allowed. Like, I don't get that if your employees can see how is that not part of wellness, but okay, you want it for experiences you do you there, they have more support questions. And they've got slightly lower utilization than the companies that are saying, you know, what, you're an adult wellness means whatever wellness means if that's groceries, so that you can get healthier food for your family, if that's running shoes, if that's a gym reimbursement, if that's a television for your basement, because you need to lose an extra 100 pounds and you don't want to go to the gym, and you're building out your basement gym, we don't care, you are an adult, you make your life decisions, we're here to support that. That's where you create a different dynamic that trust. And that engagement factor creates a very different relationship with people's companies. And we just saw such cool things happen over the past year, where a lot of plumbing actually. So under the Family category, we saw a lot of busted hot water heaters, busted toilets, busted dishwashers, and people going, I'm I'm in the midst of chaos, like I've got kids, none of this stuff is working, I need to use my family stipend for that, because that's what my family needs right now. That in the middle of a pandemic, an employee is absolutely going to remember that's how their company supported them versus a whole back and forth of oil. You can only use your family stipend for a babysitter, and you're like, we're literally on lockdown. I can't get a babysitter, what are you even thinking here. So creating a different space for people creates a very different dynamic and a much higher retained employee. So new data for you, we actually looked at all the companies that started with us before the pandemic, and how much they grew up until the beginning of November, on average, they grew 121% on their employee base, so not only retaining their people, but skyrocket growth that is very atypical from what other companies are seeing in the market.

Kyle Roed:

Wow. Yeah, that's, that's really interesting. The 50 page policy, you know, that Dad, just, I can't tell you how many, you know, it's, it's, it's fascinating to hear, you know, your experience, and, you know, your background is, you know, CEO, CFO, you know, with with, you know, certainly some people leadership mixed in there and in a people centric focus. But, you know, it's so often in HR, we just, we lean on somebody, you know, somebody made a mistake, we better write a policy for this right? Or somebody that we define the problem as there's a lack of clarity on what the expectation is, as opposed to dealing with the individual behavior. And we punish everybody for it,

Amy Spurling:

right, which ended up punishing HR the most, because then you've got to maintain and manage a policy, like we have that conversation a lot where, you know, for stipends. It's usually like a one step review process. And there's a lot of well, what if somebody submits the wrong thing? Or puts in a fake receipt? Or does whatever and it's like, look, we spot check that too, it's point 00 1% that are going to do that? Are you going to spend hours and hours and hours of your time to find that point? 00 1%? Or are you one you're going to go review the three people that you know are probably going to break the rules anyways, because every HR leader knows the three people that are going to try and break the rules. Or you just take and you go instead of assuming they're going to steal $50, which they're not and when wants to get fired over $50 with a fraud. You go and you do a review and make sure that it matches up for your culture and you did that once or twice a year, like change the conversation from Are you stealing, too? Are you living up to our culture? And if you're not get back in mind, or maybe this isn't the right organization for you, it changes the dynamic of that conversation is much more of a management conversation than a, hey, here's the 800 page policy of how to be an employee here that no one's gonna read, and then you have to manage and it's just nightmare doesn't scale.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, there's no Yeah, I mean, I, my, my perspective on policies is, you know, should be a last resort, right? Like, like, you know, and, you know, I've done more work to try to eliminate policies in my organization, then create new ones, or just like, like, fix them, you know, make like three pages long is 75. But then you get the one person like, the attendance policy, and then the one person's like, well, what if I'm on my way to work and I get abducted by aliens? And I can't text you and, you know, like, you get those kinds of questions. It cetera. But yeah, that's, I think that's it's very insightful, from somebody that I'm sure has had to deal with that their past. So a lot

Amy Spurling:

of the adopted by aliens, it's surprising how frequently that comes out. Yeah,

Kyle Roed:

I guess? I guess. So. You know, there's, there's a lot of conspiracy theorists out there. But, you know, I guess there are legitimate concerns, you know, so I'm happy to help you work through that. But the, the one thing I wanted to talk about a little bit was initially inclusion. And, you know, we've talked a lot over the last few years and and it's it's kind of been in the spotlight is, you know, diversity, equity and inclusion. So how does having like flexibility and benefits or, or taking this approach, with an organization help help address that? Or, you know, the other question someone might might be thinking is, is there a potential risk of an adverse impact or something like that?

Amy Spurling:

I think it's, I mean, the nature of moving to stipends versus picking and choosing specific things is that these are inclusive. So, you know, if you were to do child care benefits, for instance, because you were trying to support, you know, younger parents, or people with younger children, you know, that's only going to work for those people, you're naturally excluding people who are at a different stage in their life. By virtue of the benefit, you're bringing it, every benefit you're bringing in, include some people excludes others, the purpose of stipends is to really remove that inclusion, exclusion, or remove the exclusion to where everyone can be included, which makes it a lot easier to to have and support more diverse teams. So example would be, you know, I don't think most most organizations start out wanting to be homogenous and have, you know, really horrible diversity metrics, I think what happens is that an organization starts, and it's a few people who know each other who are likely have a similar different demographic, whatever that is, and then they bring on more people just like them because of unconscious bias, and all the things that go with it. And then you start building and benefits and you're like, oh, what would I like, and then you bring in more of that, and then that ends up being more of the same people and this snowball effect. So when you get to be 100 people, and you're sitting around the table going, Okay, our team is really not, you know, it's looking pretty one note right now, and you're I look at their benefits, I'm like, you've got benefits that applied to one small subset of humanity. But of course, as a finance person, why would you pay for benefits for people you don't have, of course, you're not going to pay for things for people you don't have. The beauty of stipends is you don't have to do that. You say, Look, we want to support your wellness or your family or your whatever, and you decide where you are. So if you don't have kids, cool, there's still family benefits. Family benefits are not just for people with children, they don't need to assume that it's a mom and a dad. And there's two kids were ages five and seven. Everyone has a family, but every family looks different. So the nature of stipends is really creating a much more inclusive base, around a theme that the company wants to support. And that's what's exciting to me, because then you can do some cool talent branding on it as well. If you're lacking in some sort of diversity across the team, maybe you're struggling to get more seasoned people who have children, you've got a younger organization, you can promote the fact that you've got family benefits that support these types of things, doesn't take anything away from the group that is there that doesn't have children, they can still have family benefits. They're just a different kind of family benefits. Maybe their family is doing a Friendsgiving with their friends because they don't live near their parents, that should be allowed. And so it's allowing for a much more inclusive base, which I think is just HR has been lacking actual tools. It's like even given the mandate, create diversity, equity and inclusion, magically. Here's zero tools. Just make could happen, this is actually a tool that is meant to be like, okay, but here's how you can do that. Here's how you can take those funds, and actually create something that is by nature of what it is inclusive to where it's not trying to figure out like, oh, what benefits do women want? Like, that's silly. Like, that's, I mean, women want all kinds of things where half the population instead of trying to create this laundry list of things to create all of humanity in your organization, go the other direction, simplify, make it easier, and let employees be the ones who are directing it.

Kyle Roed:

That's, that's really interesting. I think, you know, I reflect on, you know, those the approach of things like, like, recruitment, marketing, and how are we, you know, how are we attracting? And, you know, you know, one of the big things is, you know, make sure that you have a diverse talent pool, but how are you even? Yeah, how are you? How are you going to market? Right? Are you? Do you have anything to actually share? Or do you just have like, a pretty like a flyer that says, hey, we're inclusive, right, walk in, and a bunch of like, a bunch of white guys that are like, all went to the same school and like, right, play, you know, play the same sport and watch, you know, and right, you know, watch, watch the same thing on TV.

Amy Spurling:

And that's where it's like, then that company may very well want to bring in more diversity, which is great, it's really hard to feel supported as the only or the first when you're joining that type of voting organization. So one, the company has an uphill battle, but to here's a way to start supporting other methods of supporting other groups of people without being like, what benefits support, you know, pick your group, because that is going to go very wrong very quickly.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, so here's, here's a great example is, as you were talking, you know, a couple couple thoughts popped in my mind a couple of stories from from years past, and but I distinctly remember, so one of my, one of my first jobs in manufacturing was a, it was an HR generalist, and I was working with somebody on an insurance issue, and it was a, you know, it was a, a pretty challenging situation, it was related to pregnancy, and, and, you know, some some, some health care needs related to a pregnancy. And the employee was just extremely frustrated, and, and, you know, me coming in there thinking, you know, I can help with this, I can help us come to find out that the, the way that the benefit was structured is, you know, a lot of the care that was given, was not covered, you know, because of the summary plan description. And, and, you know, we were kind of working through that, but but at the end of the day, the answer was, that, you know, I really can't help you. Because this is, this is how this is structured. And there's not really a way around this, and we can't violate this because this is how stop loss works, blah, blah, blah. And she looked at me, and she said, you know, this, this is a manufacturing environment I get, there's a lot of guys here, but these benefits are not friendly to women. Right. And I'm sitting there, and I'm like, I don't know if I can agree or not, but she's right. In my head. And and it's, it's, but It's situations like that, where, you know, I think that HR has a responsibility to ask those questions before somebody sitting in your office and, you know, in the midst of tears, because there's not support, or there's not a benefit that that probably should have been there. But it wasn't a thought because of that exact situation you just described, which is the benefits were structured for the people that structure the benefits. Yep, not for everybody else.

Amy Spurling:

Well, and I think that's where parental leave is so powerful, and I love seeing the shift to parentally because originally, it was maternity leave, right? If there was even any leave at all. And so because it was you know, you have the old school guys who are like, Oh, well, I was on a golf course when my kid was born I'm like Pierrot terrible saw their congratulations,

Kyle Roed:

you know, there's high five I'm golfing. Take me right now. Like this

Amy Spurling:

is not who like let's not promote that. What I love, love, love, love is that with the newer generations, the you know, the the non birth giving partner is demanding rights. And I love that because what's amazing is, so one of the women who started the company with me, she had her first child here, she took the first 12 weeks off, and she was full time with the baby when she was physically having a child. So of course she needed time. But then her husband took the second 12 weeks, he had 12 weeks of parental leave from his company. That child had 24 weeks with two different parents. That is powerful, not just for the child, but think about it like the birth giving parent for whatever reason, it's been different by society that, you know, well, you're the one carrying it. So at the age of 13, you're responsible for their soccer schedule and pick up, when did that become part of the contract like that is not part of it. Whereas if you create a situation where both partners can be equal, and share in that responsibility, it creates space for both partners to be able to go back to work versus, you know, that Daddy's little helper syndrome where mom is responsible for everything, but Dad can help. And also not the situation of like one group checking out and not coming back to the office, because there's no support for them, like, yeah, creating that, like I forced, like, I know, I've got a lot of babies coming up on my team, I've got a lot of relatively recent marriages, a lot of people in their 30 Somethings, and a lot of the men on the team are going to be taking significant time off. And that's my expectation, because I know, even though their wives and their partners are not part of my team, it's part of the greater good for their partners to have that support. It's going to create better little humans, but it just, it's better support for relationships. So I think that is one place, I've seen a huge movement that makes me so so so happy to see that. And it's this millennial Gen Z group of men who have demanded it. And I really appreciate that. I think that's fantastic.

Kyle Roed:

It's really, it's really interesting to hear that I think, you know, it's it's the Daddy's little helper helper syndrome, which I think is that's a that's a good name for it. You know, I think the other interesting thing there is, and I reflect on conversations I've had in years past, when I've had somebody who needs off more than, you know, their PTO bank, a male who needs off more than their PTO bank to stay at home, because God forbid, you know, their, their spouse isn't ready to bounce back and right, you know, and in, you know, two weeks or whatever, they're minimal PTO balances. But you know, those conversations that you might be having with these individuals, leaders, and maybe their spouses didn't have to work either, right? I mean, it's a different I mean, the number of working spouses in two working spouses in the household has continued to increase year over year over year, you know, it's a different equation than it was years ago, we have to be flexible to that. Yeah.

Amy Spurling:

Well, that's where honestly, like the whole concept around personalization, and what we're building here at comps, for me actually started around parental leave, so I don't have children. My wife, and I decided that was not the path we wanted to go down. We prefer sleep, work, you know, doubling down on sleep again. And so but what I realized was like, why am I designing a parental leave policy for people when I don't have children? This makes no sense. As the finance person, I'm like, this is the amount of time we can afford to give you off. Why should I care if you're doing some of that part time, some of that full time out, like how you're structuring that if first kid is different from a third kid, if you have in laws that are helping, it's different than if they're not, if you have in laws that are not really helping, that's different than if they are like, I don't want to be that much up in your personal business, I need to determine what we can afford as a company and hold it consistent where we treat people fairly, but you design your parental leave policy, because for a lot of the non birth giving parents, they may not want to be out for 12 straight weeks, but maybe they want to do, you know, maybe mornings are a nightmare. And they need to do half days, three days a week just to be there to help support the transition. And maybe that carries on longer than 12 weeks. I don't care. That's great. Do what you need to do. Here's what we can afford, you design your program. And so that was really kind of where this started, where I was like, Okay, if it's parental leave, while Yeah, it kind of applies to everything else, where everybody needs to be deciding their own things and not have media deciding this for them.

Kyle Roed:

That's really, that's really interesting, really insightful. I think, you know, if if you're listening to this, and you're thinking, Geez, how do I, you know, where do I start? You know, I think what what was just shared is something that I want to reiterate, it's, it's about what's right for the person, right. And it's, but it's, you know, parental leave is one thing, it's about a culture of support, and, and caring and compassion for what your employees are going through. And ultimately, I think to 20 earlier points, that's what keeps people around. Yep. That's what keeps them engaged. That's what that that's what makes them care about what your goals and objectives are at your organization. Right. Remember, this reminds me of a conversation I had with my wife a few a few weeks ago and so and and we have, we have three kids, so the whole like sleep thing

Amy Spurling:

like you haven't added

Kyle Roed:

you know, they're just old enough now where we actually sleep a full well, you know, six, seven hours if I can, if I can work that in, but you But I'm not interrupted three times in the middle of night because of whatever, at least not typically. But we were talking about loyalty. My wife and I, and she is she's she's exceptional, and a great mother. And we were talking about loyalty to an organization. And in the comment she made, and I think it was so right is, is, why should I be loyal to a company? If they're not loyal to me?

Amy Spurling:

100%? Right? Well, defining loyalty, loyalty to me doesn't mean that an employee is going to stay with you forever. That's a very archaic thought of what loyalty is, nobody sticks with the same job forever, nor should you, like your career is going to progress. So on the company side, it's not expecting that you're going to try and keep someone forever, it's how do I create an amazing situation for you for this stage of your career, if I can keep you longer awesome. But I want to make this stage of your career fantastic. This has to be an awesome step for you. And recognizing it's not forever on either side of the table. And that's okay. That's the way the world works now. And so changing up like, loyalty used to mean you leave me I'm never talking to you again, like as a company, which is, I mean, we've all had those jobs. Exactly. It's like, that's silly. That's completely silly. Like life is long. Like, this is a career step for people. And so thinking about a little differently, loyalty we don't from an employee side is that you don't leave me with two weeks notice and leave me high and dry. And if I've done the right thing, but you and your career and supporting you, you're going to be like, You know what, it's time for me to think about something else. You know, I don't know what that is yet. But it's going to be in the next six months. And so we can work on a path to that together, if I've created a situation where that's the exit ramp, I've done my job. And I'm super happy about that, because people are going to change things up. And that's perfectly okay.

Kyle Roed:

That's such a different way to think about. Employee offboarding. Right. It's, it's just, but I think that the organizations that understand that and the HR people that understand that and intentionally structure, an organization, to, to work within those confines, is just going to have a lot less pain over the next five to 10 years. Because guess what, that's what's going to happen whether you want it to or not.

Amy Spurling:

Right, exactly. So we're all gonna have turnover. I mean, I teams had turnover. And you know, an amazing, amazing marketer leave, because she's got, you know, twin two year old girls who are the cutest thing on the planet, and she was like, you know, what, I want to freelance, right? I just want to write, and she's a brilliant writer. I was like, Cool. She's still working with us. But she's like, the whole, like, 40 hours a week is not what I want to do right now. I'm like, Okay, I got it. I can't wait for her girls to hit some older age when I can snag her back. Yeah, I got it. Like, she's at a different stage of life. And she's designing her life for what works for her and her family, as she should, that is not a lack of loyalty to me, that is doing the right thing by our family. And those do not need to be mutually exclusive.

Kyle Roed:

If anything, the loyalty is the circling back to the grown up thing to do. And having the respect of with your employer to share that, right, that that desire that need that career, aspiration, and, and then work on it together. Exactly, collaboratively, as opposed to like hiding in the shadows and like, right, ready to do this freelance thing and like, trying to line up a job and then going like, Amy, I'm sorry, I have to quit leaving in two weeks, you know,

Amy Spurling:

it's awkward for both of us in that scenario, where it's like, I know you've been sneaking around but right hard to figure out like it's just it's just awful. Like I'd rather have something that's a much more you know, comfortable environment for people to be their whole selves right.

Kyle Roed:

It's such a different way of thinking and someone for like coming from my industry like you know, old school manufacturing 130 year old company, you know, like that. We just celebrated the guy who's been here 45 years Right? Like amazing, shifting the context right to somebody might only be around for five years, Max, before they get a keyboard. Wow, yeah, fine.

Amy Spurling:

Well, I mean, I know that a lot in your world like oh, my god, somebody 18 months I'm psyched.

Kyle Roed:

But I really do think it's like it's it's, it's it's just where society's going right. It's totally alright, let's to work. It's our attitude. It's you know, I do think there are people that really want that stability that want to know that that is a desire, there's they want to work the same place, be comfortable, totally swim with the current and not make waves and wake up every morning and know everybody but

Amy Spurling:

realizing the whole big company, long term thing is a misnomer. It just means you're not going to know when you're going to get laid off. earlier stage companies who recognize this are going to design for that big companies, they're gonna come in and do layoffs when they need to, and you'll have no idea it's coming. So Like the whole big company, you know, long term play. It only works in one direction. It only works for the companies that you just don't know when it's coming. Well,

Kyle Roed:

let me tell you, it's sitting sitting in the seat I sit in, you know, there's nothing worse than knowing it's coming and having to have that conversation with someone who's been here for five years. Yeah, the worst, sorry, divisions getting, you know, shut down. So right, here's a severance check for a couple of weeks. Good luck, right? It's the worst, right? So So to that point, if you want 120% growth, and all sorts of Inclusion and Engagement, you know, sounds like a really interesting approach to it and innovation that I'm certainly going to check out. We haven't figured out what our wellness program is yet. So this is a little bit

Amy Spurling:

with a lot of manufacturing, construction. So we actually work with a lot of folks who have similar demographics to your team.

Kyle Roed:

Perfect, perfect. With that being said, we are coming to the end of our time together, and I want to be respectful of your time. Clearly, you're a busy, busy person. But we're gonna shift gears and do the rebel HR flash round. Fine. All right. Question number one, what is your favorite people book?

Amy Spurling:

I really like work rules by Laszlo Bock for Chief People Officer. I think he's the first one I've ever had the title. But he was out of Google. And it's a massive, massive book. But so data driven, they did lots of A B tests of all kinds of HR theories and philosophies and functions and then pulled data together. So I'm a data junkie. So it's a big, I'm a big fan of the book.

Kyle Roed:

I'm right there with you. I could I could dig through the statistics. So good all day long. So my favorite question is, Is this legitimate? Or is this just a feeling? Right? Yeah, exactly. Feel like this is a good decision, or is this actually a good decision?

Amy Spurling:

I like to have data to lease way, right, one way or the other.

Kyle Roed:

Right? Okay, we're going right back to the whole CFO thing. So that's why I get along with accountants because I'm like, I'm usually the one going like, we shouldn't pay that much. Alright, question number two, who should we be listening to?

Amy Spurling:

i The two people that I'm following a lot right now, Heather, just shame. So she is an amazing cheap people leader that is all over the place. Right now. She just joined a VC and is working on their people team, but has a lot of experience in remote teams. The other person that I follow a lot is Shelby volka, who was the first Chief People Officer at Envision, which was one of the first remote first companies they were doing this years before the pandemic. Both of them have such amazing perspective on transitioning and shifting teams into remote environments, the different management tools you need to put in place the different tool tools you need to put in place like they're both absolutely incredible.

Kyle Roed:

Love it. I'm not familiar with the check those out. So appreciate the hot tip. And I do feel like you know, it's like these, like these virtual work experts that yeah, like 1015 20 years ago, it's like the, like good for them. Like they say like, like a futurist that was actually right. Exactly.

Amy Spurling:

Like they design systems we all need right now.

Kyle Roed:

It's like their moment in the spotlight. So yeah, exactly. Alright, last question. How can our listeners connect with you,

Amy Spurling:

I they can reach me either at my email amy@comps.io or on our website www.comped.io. And that's

Kyle Roed:

competent, c o m, p t.io. So we'll have all that information in the show notes. And strongly encourage you to check it out. If it was interesting to you. You know, it's it's a different take on benefits. From my perspective, it sounds a whole lot easier than what I do today. And I'm definitely interested to learn more. So, Amy, really appreciate you spending some time with us here today. And appreciate you disrupting the world of work for a positive difference here. Thank you. Thank you. All right. That does it for the rebel HR podcast. Big thank you to our guests. Follow us on Facebook at rebel HR podcast, Twitter, at rebel HR guy, or see our website at rebel human resources.com. The views and opinions expressed by rebel HR podcast are those the authors do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any of the organizations that we represent. No animals were harmed during the filming of this podcast. Maybe