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Managing people

This company rewards you for commuting

Many people see commuting as "dead time," but one company recognises the effort employees put into daily commuting by offering additional annual leave as a way to say "thank you".   

22 May 2024

While most people don't get paid for commuting, some companies are recognising that it's time away from family that remote workers would otherwise have.

Stake, an online investment platform, has introduced a unique initiative to reward employees for their commuting time. Stake's Head of Human Resources, Aline Van Koninckxloo, shared on LinkedIn that the company has devised "an innovative and meaningful way to accrue time off while commuting to the office" to "refund" that time to employees. 

In an interview with The Australian Financial Review, Van Koninckxloo acknowledged that this initiative is an incentive for some employees, while for others, it's a well-deserved bonus since they would be commuting anyway.

Additional generous benefits 

Additionally, Stake announced measures to entice staff back to work from parental leave. This includes $1000 a month towards what is usually seen as prohibitive childcare fees for the first 12 months and $500 a month in the second year.

Alongside the cash incentive, Stake also offers non-birth parents a generous ten weeks of fully paid maternity leave, while birth parents get 16 weeks with their superannuation paid in full. However, where Stake has differentiated itself is when it comes to getting people back to the office and making sure hybrid work works for everyone.

Van Koninckxloo says the package of policies has led to far more women applying to work at the investing platform in the past two-and-a-half years. She states that since its introduction, the company has seen a significant turnaround in the number of applicants and, most importantly, in their diversity. 

Previously, the Fintech primarily received applications from men, but now they've observed more women and parents applying. Additionally, Stake noticed an increased diversity in age and cultural backgrounds.

Making hybrid work, work

Van Koninckxloo noted that post-COVID-19, while employees expressed a desire to return to the office, they did not prefer to do so full-time. Although employees appreciate working in the office and would like to do so more frequently, the burden of commuting is a significant factor. 

During the pandemic, people realised the value of spending more time with their families and engaging in other personal activities. They do not want to sacrifice that time for commuting.

Van Koninckxloo believes that offering perks like free food and ping-pong tables in the office may not be what employees truly desire. Instead, they suggested that the company refund the time spent commuting as a meaningful way to compensate employees.

Based on this insight, Stake implemented a policy granting employees who work four days a week in the office an additional five days of annual leave and seven extra days of annual leave for those who work five days a week in the office. This initiative aims to address the concern that employees lose personal time due to commuting.

Many companies are now offering additional leave or benefits as an incentive to come to the office to attract and retain employees. This approach recognises that employees value quality time and flexibility and aims to provide a work-life balance that enhances wellbeing.

Stake also values cross-collaboration and team building. By encouraging employees to come to the office, the company aims to create an environment where different teams can interact, share ideas, and strengthen relationships. This approach promotes a sense of community and enhances overall productivity.

However, Van Koninckxloo emphasises that the incentives are not intended to guilt or pressure employees into coming to the office five days a week. The company recognises that employees can be productive when working from home and believes in allowing individuals to choose what works best for them. This approach strikes a balance between flexibility and the benefits of in-office collaboration.

Is it time to review your employee benefits and hybrid working policies?

Stake's initiative to offer additional annual leave to employees who commute to the office recognises the time and effort they put into daily commuting. This policy aims to create a work-life balance that enhances employees' overall wellbeing and reflects the company's understanding of the value of personal time.

By prioritising flexibility and providing meaningful incentives, Stake has attracted and retained a diverse pool of applicants, fostering a positive work environment and promoting cross-collaboration among teams.

Catherine Ngo

Content writer, presenter and podcaster

Catherine is passionate about unravelling the latest news and insights to help HR managers, business owners, and employers.

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