"From an employee experience standpoint, having visibility into the perks that are available and being able to understand how to best utilize their benefits improves engagement. The kind of flexibility Benepass offers gives employees the ability to spend money on the things that make sense to them, in the way that makes sense to them." - Erica Raphael, VP of People
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Muck Rack has a global workforce and always had an open attitude toward its employees working remotely. COVID made it even more clear that it was time to move away from the office model. “We made a very intentional decision in 2021 to get rid of the office and take a lot of the financial resources we were driving toward that office and instead use them to create a better employee experience for people working at a fully distributed company,” said Erica Raphael, VP of People.
With over 100 employees joining the company in 2022 alone, and employees in 28 states and eight countries, it was also time for a new approach to benefits.
“We have a small finance team and constantly reviewing and approving expenses just became too burdensome.” - Erica Raphael, VP of People
Muck Rack’s original perks plan could only support expense reimbursements, which created a massive headache for all involved. Employees needed to keep track of receipts, upload them into an app, and create a report. The finance team needed to go through these same reports for hours, carefully tracking and matching all expenses before granting the funds. Industry metrics indicate that finance teams spend about 20 minutes reviewing each expense report. Multiply that by the number of employees submitting expenses per month, and the time quickly adds up.
Additionally, reimbursement-based programs are often confusing and have low utilization rates because employees may forget how much they can spend or when those funds renew. Erica shared that employees would sometimes use funds on ineligible items and then be frustrated to find that they would not be reimbursed. Reimbursements can also put some employees in a difficult position if they’re unable to front the initial funds, so Muck Rack started to consider how their perks plan could better align with their culture of inclusion. Muck Rack sought to give its employees a more equitable and flexible program.
The company turned to Benepass to allow employees to take advantage of a more card-first approach while still having the ability to submit expenses for reimbursement if needed.
Today, eligible team members receive a pre-funded Visa card to use directly for spending. Utilizing Benepass’s capabilities for enhanced customization, the organization can offer several unique benefits with different amounts, contribution schedules, and expiration dates. The Benepass card allows for automatic transaction classification upon spending and reclassification directly within the app. Benepass cards transact everywhere Visa is accepted, allowing for enhanced global parity across Muck Rack’s workforce. Funds are also not spent until employees make a purchase, allowing Muck Rack to incur cost savings while still offering 100% of the benefit.
The categories include:
Muck Rack wanted its employees to enjoy great benefits no matter where they were located. Prior benefits such as a WeWork memberships or Citi Bike accounts were very city-centric. Muck Rack wanted employees to have the flexibility to access more coworking spaces and use funds toward other improvements to their physical and mental health.
“The goal behind our total rewards is to make sure people feel supported and are set up for success to do their best work remotely, whether that’s at home or anywhere else,” Erica said. Today, all new employees are given access to a home office stipend. Previously, “my team was manually ordering items for each new employee off Amazon!” Erica said.
Employees can also use their health and wellness benefits in ways that fit their unique wants and needs. “Not everyone handles their health and wellness in the same way, and we’re giving people more flexibility. I use mine on a package of yoga classes every quarter. But other people might use it for a gym or mental health app,” Erica said.
“One of the areas that we committed to continuing to focus on in 2023 is creating opportunities for people to build rapport and friendships.” - Erica Raphael, VP of People
As a diverse team, building connections among coworkers was another key motivation for an improved perks program. Employees with positive coworker relationships are more likely to be highly engaged at work. Building connections in the workplace encourages employees to take more pride in their work, collaborate on projects, and volunteer their time when it’s needed. To recreate the lunches hosted at the NYC office pre-pandemic, the team rolled out Muck Meals as a way to create more opportunities to bond.
Muck Rack offers a stipend that employees can use every two weeks to get a meal or coffee with a coworker virtually or in-person. “We’re seeing photos of people connecting, collaborating, and bonding shared in real time on Slack,” Erica shared. “It’s a simple way to compel the team to take the time to connect and create those relationships that come naturally from working closely with a team. It’s been such a treat to watch friendships grow.”
Muck Rack recently held a company-wide event that involved a Muck Rack logo-inspired team art project. The event host sent kits to everyone in the U.S. but was unable to ship to Europe. Instead, Muck Rack worked with Benepass to create a supply list so that employees in Europe could use a special Benepass perk to purchase the same supplies and participate in the event.
“Benepass has opened the door for us to come up with creative solutions for more global events,” Erica said. The company recently hosted a virtual holiday party and everyone was given a stipend on their Benepass cards to purchase a meal to enjoy together during their annual Zoom celebration.
“We had a supportive team that was working with us and invested in our success during implementation and beyond.” - Erica Raphael, VP of People
The Muck Rack team was searching for a vendor that would offer their global team enhanced flexibility. “Benepass is a flexible option that can accommodate a lot of use cases and support employees in several different countries,” Erica said.
Benepass also acted as a trusted partner during the implementation process, leading to a smooth integration with their HRIS, BambooHR. “The level of customer support has been great,” Erica said.
Benepass offered enhanced flexibility in situations where new employees were getting onboarded with unique benefit configurations and has also allowed the team to add new stipends on the fly for one-off situations and special team events.
When evaluating vendors, it was important that they were aligned with Muck Rack’s company value of transparency by providing employees an accessible experience and enhanced visibility into their benefits programs.
“From an employee experience standpoint, having visibility into the perks that are available and being able to understand how to best utilize their benefits improves engagement. The kind of flexibility Benepass offers gives employees the ability to spend money on the things that make sense to them, in the way that makes sense to them,” Erica said.
Employees can view their balances, see recent spending, and submit reimbursement requests, all in their local currency. “If people don’t know how to take advantage of their perks and benefits, then they’re not that useful. Having accessibility through a platform where people can see what’s available to them was very important to us.”
Today, the team carefully measures engagement and utilization using Benepass’s Admin Dashboard. “It’s a lot easier to track how people are spending and manage our budget when the data’s all compiled for us,” Erica said. Benepass’s analytics capabilities allow Muck Rack to download reports and raw usage data to analyze the effectiveness of their benefits programs.