Viacom18’s employee perks program demonstrates that differentiating your company’s benefits from others can potentially pay off – not just in more engaged or more rewarded employees, but in the bottom line.
In Brandon Hall Group’s Employment Value Proposition Study, 31% of companies said that engagement is a strategic priority and linked to employee performance. If I asked you how you were intentionally working to engage your employees, what would you say? Maybe you are paying above-market wages and offering career development opportunities. It’s possible that you even have a robust benefits program and use incentives and recognition regularly.
But what if I asked you to take it to the next level? The two factors I would use include intentionality and intensity: how can we be more intentional in our approach to engagement, and how can we step up in terms of intensity over the standard fare?
For many HR leaders, it’s difficult to think about what offerings might drive engagement without other examples to spur them on. We recently published a case study on Viacom18, a $300 million, India-based media and entertainment firm with almost 800 employees. The firm won a Silver Award for its employee engagement strategy, and I am fascinated with the way the company approaches the decision to provide extra perks for its people. The company, known for its Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon brands, actively seeks out ways to add to the offerings it presents to employees. Now, I do understand the limitations of budget, and culturally some of these would not fit at other organizations. But my hope is that the following list gives you additional ideas about how you can show your employees the appreciation you have for their efforts beyond a paycheck and a 401(k).
Viacom18’s Employee Perks
The company boasts more than half a dozen pages of benefits. Here is a sampling:
- Gifts to cheer up employees in case they are having a bad day or have just gone through a relationship issue.
- Pay for an employee’s musical instrument purchase.
- Free tax and finance consultation help desks.
- A dating allowance and Valentine’s Day gifts for those in love. For those looking to find love, an online marriage/matching website subscription allowance.
- For the furry family members, an animal grooming allowance.
- A self-study center, which has hundreds of books, periodicals, magazines, videos, and self-learning materials available for free.
- Through the innovative delivery of engagement initiative — which include branding, pre-launch feedback and teasers, promotional activities, post-launch feedback and buzz – V18 takes each initiative and program and ensures that it has the Viacom18 spirit stamped onto it. This cultural focus helps to maintain employee engagement with the company’s ongoing operations.
- There is a training mascot, called “Rancho,” who informs employees about the training sessions being held.
- Fan of tattoos? V18 will pay for part of the cost of the procedure.
- Employees can plan their vacations with company-sponsored travel agent services.
The latest version of the V18 benefits guide has 38 perks in total. The company takes it a step further and extends these benefits to employees’ loved ones: their parents, children, spouse, friends, co-workers, and even their pets!
Engagement is Not the Target Outcome
Before you say it, I’ll save you the trouble. We are not going after engagement for its own sake. “Engagement” is not a legitimate business outcome. But I’ll tell you what is: employee retention and productivity.
Brandon Hall Group’s employee engagement research highlighted these two killer stats:
- 80% of companies that prioritize engagement have reduced turnover rates year over year
- 31% of organizations that prioritize engagement say that it drives higher productivity
I am convinced that one reason these widespread “engagement” initiatives are unsuccessful is because organizations are looking for engagement as an outcome. It’s hard to justify that cost. But when you can tie it back to revenue, retention, productivity, and other tangible measures, it’s much easier to see one of these programs succeeding.
So, how is it working out at Viacom18? Well, after winning numerous “best place to work” awards, corporate performance has continuously improved, and revenues are at their highest marks in the company’s history. V18’s program may not be for everyone, but it fits the culture and works for them. And it demonstrates that differentiating your company’s benefits from others can potentially pay off – not just in more engaged or more rewarded employees, but in the bottom line.
—Ben Eubanks, Learning Analyst, Brandon Hall Group