A company is only as good as its people. From the person who greets your customers on the reception desk, to the executives sat on the board, every employee represents…
TransferWise is a financial company for people that travel, live and work internationally. Starting out as an online international money transfer platform, it has now expanded to include e-money accounts, a debit card and a business platform that allow people to make payments and send money abroad easily, quickly and cheaply.
Founded seven years ago, the global company now has over 1,200 employees across 11 offices in four continents, including North America, Asia, Australasia and Europe. With a wide range of employees across several different professions, creating a salary package that attracts and retains talent can be a challenge. “We want our people to be proud of the impact they have at TransferWise and make the most of the career opportunity,” says Rose Stott, TransferWise’s People Operations Director.
“We understand that everyone needs a little something different to help them do their best work.”
“We listened to what our employees wanted from us as an employer and tailored our benefits package around them. This varies slightly by office location, depending on the size of the team and the things that are most important to them.”
One for all, all for one
To ensure consistency throughout the business, their package follows a common thread: “Underpinning this is a core set of principles that we use to make sure every employee is getting a fair deal, no matter where they’re based,” says Rose.
“We really value work-life balance, so we have generous holiday and family leave entitlements. We also believe in autonomy and close cross-team collaboration, so we encourage travel between our offices and we allow our people to decide where they’ll work from. This could be one of our offices, at home, or somewhere else entirely,” she continues. This results is a UK benefits package that includes:
- 25 days’ paid holiday (excluding bank holidays)
- Private healthcare
- Enhanced pension – 4% contribution by TransferWise, 2% by employee, due to rise in 2019 to 5% by TransferWise, 3% by employee
- Flexi-time working policy
- Generous maternity leave – 26 weeks at full pay, then 13 weeks at £145.18 p/w and an additional 13 weeks unpaid
- 3 weeks paternity leave at full pay
- Shared parental leave
- Annual all-company trip to Estonia
- Stock option package
- After four years in service, option to take six-week paid sabbatical, plus £1000 spending money
- Free breakfast every day, plus free lunch on Fridays
- Company funding for team events, including sporting and cultural clubs
However, it wasn’t just the employees’ opinions that were taken into account: “Every element of our benefits package is carefully selected to support and reinforce our culture and mission,” explains Rose.
“Doing this helps us to articulate what we stand for to potential and new employees, helps new joiners integrate more quickly and helps make sure we’re all working together to achieve our mission.”One particular example is the choice to offer stock options:
“We know our mission of building money without borders will take some time, which is why we decided to offer all new employees stock options, rather than bonuses that drive short-term thinking and decisions.”
“Instead, we offer every single employee a share of the business so that we can all benefit from our success in the long term.”
TransferWise also really values autonomy and offer a lot of flexibility to their employees in how and where they work.
“Our culture of flexible working and personal empowerment means that we don’t have a lot of complicated policies and entitlements for our employees to navigate,” says Rose.
“What this means in practice is that if someone needs to finish early or start work a little later each week because of childcare or other commitments, we have no problem with this. Everyone is able to work with their team to design the best working pattern for them, meaning they can fit work alongside their outside interests as needed.”
Room for improvement
In order to ensure ongoing employee engagement, Rose and her team regularly review the benefits they offer. They conduct an annual survey of all employees to receive formal feedback, as well as gathering informal feedback throughout the year through initiatives like Slack polls, group discussions, Ask Me Anythings (AMAs), all team calls and local office surveys. The last internal survey revealed that employees were broadly very happy with the benefits on offer, but there were areas for further improvements, so the People team set about making changes and adding in new elements according to what would have the biggest positive impact.
For other businesses looking to implement effective benefit strategies, Rose emphasises that surveys are only effective if you use them properly: “If you’re going to complete a survey asking employees what they think about their benefits, be prepared to be fully transparent with the findings – and to make commitments about how you’ll act on the feedback afterwards.”
She explains that if a survey doesn’t work for your business, then there are lots of alternative ways that you can gather feedback on what matters most, enabling you to make the small changes that will have the biggest impact.
“We’ve found running regular, informal AMAs has provided a good forum for people to come forward with their ideas and suggestions. Asking new joiners in their first 30 days is also a really valuable touchpoint – they’ll let you know how your benefits stack up against their last business and other employers, as well as giving you a fresh perspective on the things that matter most and that align the most with your culture and business values.”
The results are in
As a financial company looking to disrupt the old-world of money transfers, it makes sense that a company like TransferWise would also offer an innovative benefits strategy. By offering incentives like stock options, they aim to attract and hire people who are invested – quite literally! – in their mission, sharing the value of their success as one of Europe’s fastest growing companies.