By Sarah Hidey, Joining Vision and Action

Who hasn’t heard about (and envied!) Google’s work environment? Healthy food offered around the clock, “nap pods” (sign me up!), the ability to bring pets to work, generous family leave policies and several other innovative “perks.” I think many of us would agree: These perks would probably make it a little easier to go to work on Monday morning!

Good news!

Google isn’t the only company thinking about its employees and implementing innovative programs for their benefit. Many workplaces (of all sizes) agree, and they are starting to think about compensation and benefits as more than a competitive salary, health/life insurance and vacation time. They are also exploring new ways to incentivize or to motivate their employees—ultimately helping employees be healthier and happier in their jobs.

While many may think of this as an exclusive “Google Workplace,” this concept has an official term: Total Rewards. Over the last several years, this concept was born and evolved within the corporate sector. It looks at the entire employee experience, which includes both traditional compensation (income, health benefits, retirement assistance), traditional incentives (both monetary and non-monetary), vacation/paid time-off policies, wellness initiatives and other innovative “perks” or benefits that are not monetary, such as the ability to bring pets to work, offering a day off for employees to volunteer in the community, providing discounts to services in the community and many of the innovative programs that Google offers its employees.

JVA is lucky enough to have an expert in this field officing out of its Changemakers co-working space, and he is currently collaborating with JVA’s team to help nonprofits and social enterprises apply the idea of Total Rewards to their business models. Joe Pulichene, of M3Consulting, spent the last 35 years in the corporate sector holding leadership positions in human resources, compensation/benefits and, most recently, as vice president of Total Rewards—working with companies to help them answer these questions: How do you motivate employees so that they feel a sense of purpose related to their work, are thriving and happy in their jobs, and come to work inspired? Is it true that employees are motivated by more than just money? Are there other benefits or perks that are more valuable when thinking about employee retention? The short answer is YES.

The great news for JVA clients and friends is that this idea of Total Rewards is NOT just for the for-profit corporate sector or large multi-national companies like Google!

Joe recently sat down with JVA to share some of his top tips for nonprofits and social enterprises when it comes to implementing Total Rewards.

Top Five Tips for Nonprofit Leaders

  • Be Proud. Be Loud. A key element of Total Rewards is helping employees tie their work to a greater purpose. Nonprofits already have a leg up on this compared with the for-profit sector—since most employees are working because of a commitment to the mission of the organization. However, it is still important to find ways to tie day-to-day tasks (i.e., fundraising, inputting information into a database, accounting) to the bigger purpose of the organization. Perhaps it’s by sharing stories of beneficiaries at weekly staff meetings or encouraging administrative staff to visit programs. Find out what works best for your organization.
  • Ask employees what they want. Don’t assume you know the types of perks your employees would love. Some may be more productive if their pet can come to work with them, others may value a monetary bonus, while others would prefer additional time off. Other may feel less stressful at work if they had the opportunity to participate in yoga during the day. Through surveys and conversations between organizational leaders and staff, nonprofit leaders can get a feeling for what type of perks are valuable or meaningful for their employees.
  • total rewards, work rulesThink outside of the box. Be creative. Total Rewards does not have to be expensive! In fact, there are many free or inexpensive programs and perks that could be offered. In the book Work Rules, Laszlo Block, Google senior vice president of people operations, shared, “Most people assume Google spends a fortune on doing special things for our employees. Aside from our cafes and shuttles, we don’t. Most of the programs we use to delight and care for Googlers are free, or very close to it. And most would be easy for almost anyone to duplicate. The astonishing thing is that more companies don’t come up with ones of their own. All it takes is imagination and the will to do it.” JVA experimented with this a few years ago when JVA leaders converted an outdoor patio area into a beautiful, peaceful space where co-workers could gather for lunch, take a breather in the middle of the day or find a quiet, peaceful space during a stressful project. The cost? Minimal (thanks to great finds at local thrift shops!). The impact? Employees now had a place (read: not their desk!) to gather and take breaks. All the staff (myself included) found that it added great value to our daily experience.
  • Pilot something. Once you have discovered what motivates your employees, it is time to pilot a plan. Maybe it will be a raving success and your employees will feel revitalized and excited to come to work in the morning. Or maybe it will fail. That’s the beauty of a pilot—you can always pivot, make changes and try something else. Perhaps it is a healthy eating competition between co-workers. Or allowing dogs in the office one day a week. Or planning a volunteer day for employees to get out in the community. Pick something and try it out.
  • Commit to a culture of Total Rewards. You must have the willingness to follow through. Whatever benefits you choose to offer, be sure they are connected to your ultimate mission, vision and values. When you evaluate potential perks, put them through a mission, vision, values filter. This will make any benefit you offer stronger, more likely to be followed through with and more effective. Make it a part of your culture, not an isolated program!