What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) for your business? Most executives focus on revenue, revenue growth, margin, net profit, cash flow, employee turnover/employee satisfaction, and net promoter score. But I wonder if these metrics are short sighted? Focusing on them may help with your next quarterly earnings call, but they aren’t eternal metrics.
What are your Kingdom Performance Indicators?
“The year that I was in charge of the [Naval Academy graduation] banquet I invited an old man, a very famous personal evangelist who could go into the office of a newly-elected senator and say, “Young man, are you here in the will of God?” The senator would look at him and say, “I don’t know.” He would reply, “You mean you are a senator of the United States and you don’t know whether you’re in the will of God?” Then he would proclaim the gospel. He had a gift of loving directness.”Jim Wilson, Taking Men Alive
I argue that you have more power to impact your employees, customers, and community than your senator in Washington does. But how would you reply if this famous evangelist walked into your office and asked you the same question, “Sir, are you here in the will of God?” If thinking about your reply makes you a bit uneasy then stick with me.
I don’t care how your profit and loss statement looks, if when you arrive at your office you leave God waiting for you in the lobby you’ve lost the day and the quarter. “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26
In this new series I will cover classic measures used in corporations such as community impact, employee satisfaction, employee benefits, and much more, but through the lens of Kingdom level benefits. How should the scorecard of a business led by a Christian leader look differently than a company with the sole purpose of profit?
Benefits done wrong
A hot trend within startups is the ability to work from anywhere for a couple months out of the year and “unlimited or infinite” vacation time.
I researched engineering jobs at over 100 bay area startups on AngelList and found these two new offers along side the existing suite of cliche employee benefits that are available at almost every company I reviewed:
- Gym memberships and office-wide meditation Mondays and yoga Fridays
- Unlimited meals, snacks, and coffee or green juice
- Team adventures, parties, and retreats
- Discounts on company product
- Lyft and Uber credits
- Cell phone and gym membership reimbursement
These benefits have become the norm and are now expected as standard at all startups. But should we consider these to be Kingdom level employee benefits?
I don’t think so.
In 2019 a study was conducted by Ipsos in which they discovered that 55% of American workers do not use all their budgeted time off. On average we use only 17.4 days, which is about one half week less than our allotted time off. In the 70’s and 80’s workers took all their vacation time and we didn’t start throwing out our paid time off until the early 90’s.
So let’s give our employees unlimited time off when they aren’t even using the time given to them right now. Seems smart. This isn’t an employee benefit, it is a math problem solved through a partnership between the accounting and HR departments. They crunch the numbers and realize they won’t end up spending any additional money with this special employee benefit, but they will be able to have a nice buzz word added to their external job marketing. Remember, the majority of the people working at these companies are millennials and Gen X which respectively use 13.2 and 19.3 vacation days per year. So of what use is this benefit?
For a real world example the analytics platform company Heap is giving unlimited vacation time with a three week minimum required! Wow! But in complete hypocrisy they offer only a skimpy 401k match of 1% of their salaries. Wow Heap… Thanks for setting your employees up for the future! And somehow this company was chosen as Glassdoor’s 2019 employees’ choice for best small and medium sized place to work. We are not setting our bar high enough.
Benefit done right: Kingdom level benefits in action
Now, some companies are serious about creating a great employee culture and offer unique Kingdom level benefits for their employees. Here are some fantastic ones that I found:
- “Elder care reimbursement up to a maximum of $72,000 per year and 6 months paid parental leave (or double salary to pay for your partner’s unpaid leave)” at Hyperscience
- “100% company covered medical, dental, and vision coverage” at Menlo Security
- “Receive $500 annually (or equivalent) towards a personal development opportunity of your choice, and $2000 annually (or equivalent) for professional development.” At Slack
- “Concierge primary care clinic and 24/7 virtual care, free for all full-time employees!” At Newsela
- “Learn how you learn best. From books to conferences, you’ll get a yearly budget for your individual learning and development goals. If ebooks are more your style, you’ll get a brand new Kindle on your first day and You’ll enjoy 100% coverage of health insurance premiums across our medical, dental, and vision plan offerings, including coverage for dependents.” At GitHub
- Student loan contributions
- Foreign language lessons
Every company is different and has a unique team of employees. That is why there is not a one size fits all approach to employee benefits. You need to create benefits that are appropriate for your employees, not just copy what everyone else is doing. That’s just lazy leadership.
Benefits that used to make headline news over a decade ago and drove tens of thousands of applications such as the snack bars at Google have become standard. It is no longer a benefit, but an expectation or a minimum. Companies must step up and offer something unique.
How should you begin?
Start by asking your employees what they want and need. What will make their workday more enjoyable? What benefit can you offer them today that will help them in five years?
How about completely covering their adoption costs, paying off their student loans, teaching them how to manage their personal finances by gifting them Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and hiring experts to help them manage their retirement accounts. Help them to learn valuable life skills in their downtime such as growing organic vegetables or paying for classes in cooking, making their own clothes, or playing the guitar. How about 100% matching of donations to their church or favorite non profits?
There is more you should be doing to welcome God into your company. Don’t leave him in the lobby. The benefits you offer your employees are a great place to start. A good book to get you thinking in the right mindset is The Dream Manager, by Matthew Kelly. I covered being a Dream Manager in detail here. In a future post I will cover performance evaluations and how you can use this quarterly and annual touchpoint with your team to get to know them on a personal level. With improved relationships you will know how to adjust your employee benefits and how to be the leader that God wants you to be. Your employees are talking about you at their dinner table. You make a huge difference in their lives. Are you showing up in the best way possible?
How is working for you different?
In the comments below write what Kingdom level benefits have you witnessed employers offering.