“If you’re really looking to build an inclusive benefits program, a lifestyle spending account is the way to go. It’s that silver bullet if you will.” - Matt Sanborn, Senior Manager, Benefits
Seres Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on discovering and developing therapeutic products and drugs to treat a wide range of diseases by modulating the function of the human microbiome. The team’s mission is to transform patients’ lives worldwide with revolutionary microbiome therapeutics. With over 400 employees working in-office, remote, and hybrid roles across the country, Seres wanted to improve their benefits and meet employees where they are.
“It kind of just runs itself and I never really get any questions.” - Matt Sanborn, Senior Manager, Benefits
Before moving to Benepass, administering benefits was a time-consuming and confusing process. The team provided a $50 monthly fitness benefit, taking advantage of their insurance company’s annual fitness reimbursement and supplementing the benefit with additional funds throughout the year. Employees had to submit receipts for repayment in December, making it hard to keep track of receipts for an entire year. As a result, only 25% of the company’s employees engaged with the program and employees often missed the deadline.
“Sometimes people miss it or they’re out because it’s December and the holidays,” said Matt Sanborn, Senior Manager, Benefits. “I always get emails in January or February, sometimes March, asking ‘Did I miss the reimbursement?’”
Receipt tracking was a headache for Seres’ administrative team, too. The team collected and aggregated employees’ receipt information in an Excel file so employees could be reimbursed on their final paycheck of the year. The process introduced room for manual errors, and it was challenging for the team to substantiate claims and decipher whether employees qualified for reimbursement depending on their start date.
Seres also provided a $5,000 annual tuition reimbursement program. Employees submitted receipts for this benefit through an expense system, but it was still difficult for admins to track employee spending. “Unless you’re really watching it closely, it’s hard to track and see if someone’s exceeding it,” Matt said.
“From my point of view and also the employee’s point of view, it’s just super easy and intuitive to use.” - Matt Sanborn, Senior Manager, Benefits
By moving their existing programs to Benepass, Seres eased the administrative burden for internal teams and simplified the process for employees. With Benepass, employees receive Visa cards to spend on any eligible item in Seres’ benefits program without needing to submit a receipt for every transaction. This reduces the administrative burden for both employees and Seres’ internal teams. If employees do spend on their personal cards and require reimbursement, Benepass handles the entire process.
The employee experience is a big improvement over the company’s previous annual process, as Matt said: “From an employee’s perspective, it’s more convenient and easier for them instead of holding onto everything and submitting it at the end of the year. It’ll be easier to advertise this as a benefit without this huge caveat that you have to wait until the end of the year.”
It’s also easier for employees to understand their tuition reimbursement benefit with Benepass. There’s no longer the risk that employees may unknowingly spend above their limit. “Now that it’s through Benepass, they’ll know they only have that $5,000,” Matt said. “They won’t be able to ever exceed that. It provides us a way to cap that and also a better way to track the benefit.”
“It’s really the only benefit that you can truly be 100% inclusive and know that it’ll have an impact on everyone. There’s truly no other benefit out there that anyone could offer that’ll do the same.” - Matt Sanborn, Senior Manager, Benefits
Along with their fitness and tuition reimbursement programs, Seres decided to offer their employees a lifestyle spending account. The team wanted to provide employees with a benefit that could cover a wide range of wants and needs. “If you’re really looking to build an inclusive benefits program, a lifestyle spending account is the way to go. It’s that silver bullet if you will,” Matt said.
Employees receive monthly funds to spend on items or services in these categories:
The Seres team wanted to provide maximum flexibility to employees, so they allow the funds to roll over each month and expire at the end of the year. This allows employees to save up for big-ticket purchases such as a vacation.
A lifestyle spending account also encourages employees to spend on their wellness in ways they might not if they were spending on their personal cards. “I know people love having massages. That’s always something you want to get for yourself but at the same time, you’re like, ‘Is that the best use of my money?’ But when you have this bucket carved out that’s supposed to be used for things like that, people are more apt to do that,” Matt said.
Engaging a diverse employee population requires companies to think outside of the box. For Seres leadership, meeting employees where they are is essential. The team understands that everyone has different needs and priorities, and their benefits should reflect that — especially in a competitive industry such as biotech. “We’re in a super competitive industry, so we always have to be on top of the newest and best benefits,” Matt said.
To remain competitive with benefits, it’s important for companies to monitor metrics such as utilization rates and assess whether they can make any improvements to their programs. Seres plans to use Benepass’s Admin Dashboard to gain more insight into employee spending. “We would like to use the dashboard to see what people are spending money on and then drill into that area to see where we can improve a certain benefit to support that,” Matt said.
The team expects their lifestyle spending account to be an impactful tool for recruiting. “I can imagine it’s going to be very helpful for our recruiting team, especially once people really understand the benefit. I think people are surprised to hear how open it is and how they can use it for so many different things,” Matt said.
“Working with Benepass has been a really positive experience. The ease of use, tons of flexibility to add benefits — that’s made it a great experience on our end.” - Matt Sanborn, Senior Manager, Benefits