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Your complete guide to total rewards
March 14, 2022 View Online | Sign Up

HR Brew

Hello, again! After our first look at the world of total rewards, readers hit us up with questions about everything from fertility benefits to tuition reimbursement. But before we zoom in on individual offerings, we wanted to take a step back and ask how does HR even get there? How does HR pick the next perk to prioritize in a sea of possibilities and source it from various vendors? When might they choose another option entirely, like a benefit aggregator? Keep scrolling for a totally rewarding look behind the curtain at the rewards development process.

In today’s edition:


🏷 Vendors


—Susanna Vogel


Perk up

Ryan Gosling asks Rachel McAdams what she wants outside a house The Notebook/New Line Cinema via Tenor

“Twelve to 18 months.” That’s how much time Alice Vichaita, Pinterest’s head of global benefits and mobility, said she and her team spent creating Pinterest’s NICU parental leave benefits, which were publicly announced at the end of 2021.

In an interview with HR Brew, Vichaita described the steps required to go from ideation to execution, including meeting with the Pinterest Moms and Caregivers employee resource group, benchmarking Pinterest’s parental benefits against competitors, formalizing a set of recommendations for leadership’s review, receiving approval, and then finally announcing the policy.

Before any of that could happen, there was an entire iceberg of work that had happened below the surface: Vichaita and her team had to pick the kind of benefits they wanted to create in the first place.

Deciding which program to develop can be a herculean task in and of itself. More than ever, workers place a high value on total rewards, but there are five generations of workers in the workforce, each with their own preferences for perks and benefits, complicating the question of how to prioritize program rollouts. To help better understand the process, HR Brew interviewed a dozen people who focus on rewards and benefits to find out how they zoom in on company priorities and pick their next perk or benefit.

Find your “why.” Julie Barker, consultant and CEO of Cultivate Talent, which provides foundational HR consulting to help organizations scale processing, including recruitment, compensation, and benefits, suggested HR begin by getting specific about their goals.

“We start with the why we’re doing this? What is the outcome and the impact we’re looking at? What is the ultimate cost, but what is the value?” Barker said. “Being able to tell that story…be able to show value with that [benefit] in terms of budget, and then moving forward.”

For more suggestions from experts on how to fine-tune your benefits offerings, keep reading here.—SV

Do you work in HR or have information about your HR department we should know? Email [email protected] or DM @SusannaVogel1 on Twitter. For completely confidential conversations, ask Susanna for her number on Signal.



Vetting vendors

Young woman reviewing design mockups Getty Images

A Google search for pet-insurance providers returns millions of results (not at all overwhelming). As employers pump up the benefits and perks, vendors have taken notice and rushed to vie for a piece of the $5 trillion US employers collectively spend on payroll, benefits, training, and other employee programs.

But as the vendor space gets more crowded, it can become all the more difficult for HR teams to vet total-rewards vendors.

“There is so much venture capital money in the space right now. There’s literally thousands of them,” Heather Larson, a benefits and compensation consultant at Lockton Companies, an independent insurance brokerage, told HR Brew, offering as an example that she knew of about half a dozen startups for infertility alone. “So I think for an employer, you just don’t want to roll out a new vendor partner that might not have the tried and tested infrastructure to support your employees, because then the thing that you rolled out is really going to actually be an administrative backfire.”

HR Brew asked benefits and rewards experts about how they shop for solutions and vet vendors to ensure the products are, as Larson described, “tried and true.” Keep reading here.—SV

Do you work in HR or have information about your HR department we should know? Email [email protected] or DM @SusannaVogel1 on Twitter. For completely confidential conversations, ask Susanna for her number on Signal.



The secret sauce to employee wellness

Just as the rise of remote work made pantsless video calls okay, it also made it more common for employees to experience burnout and disconnection. This means employee well-being is exceedingly important for HR teams.’s HR tool kit includes 3 brand-new platform templates that HR teams can use to bring more well-being to their organizations, making sure your employees feel seen (don’t worry, just from the waist up).

There’s even a nifty video featuring HR leadership from, Formstack, and Calendly wherein they discuss out-of-the-box approaches to employee wellness and engagement: flexible hours, async communication, WFH stipends, mental health support, and 4-day workweeks.

Show your employees just how much your company cares. Get started with’s HR tool kit here.


All together now

Realistic Detailed 3d Hand Holding Mobile Smart Phone with Shopp App. Vector Getty Images

In the near future, more HR teams may pass on point-solutions vendors entirely in favor of aggregation platforms that hyper-personalize the benefits experience and, miraculously, house all company benefit offerings in one place.

Over the course of HR Brew’s conversations about rewards, several benefits pros made the business case for aggregators, emphasizing their user-friendliness and particular value to small- and medium-sized companies who might be priced out of working with point-solution vendors.

Jordan Peace, CEO of Fringe, a lifestyle benefits platform, explained the premise. Aggregators—such as Fringe, JOON, PerkUp, and Limeade—typically give their employees points (which translate to dollars) to spend as they see fit on services ranging from teletherapy, to activities to do with kids, to food delivery. In Peace’s view, putting dollars and decisions in employees’ hands can alleviate some of the disgruntlement around benefits. He thinks people want personalization—not a single point solution that may or may not apply to their circumstances.

“By the time I was a teenager, I could walk into a Starbucks and give this 17-word description of the perfect drink that’s just for me,” Peace said. “Personalization is native to me. And then you go to the workforce, and it’s like, ‘Hey, do you want the chocolate 401k, vanilla, or the strawberry?’ And it’s just like, ‘Why is this so lame? Where’s the curated feel that I expect everywhere else in my life?’ It doesn’t show up in the workplace.”

Keep calm, communicate on. Benefit aggregators also have the potential to help streamline a common pain-point for HR: communication. When companies partner with multiple vendors, employees sometimes miss communications about benefit offerings. In a particularly striking example, Jonathan Shooshani, the CEO of JOON, wasn’t even aware of benefits available to him.

“One of my coworkers told me, ‘Hey, do you know we have Spring Health through Rippling?’ I’m one of the founders of the company, [and] I didn’t know that!” Shooshani told HR Brew. Keep reading here.—SV

Do you work in HR or have information about your HR department we should know? Email [email protected] or DM @SusannaVogel1 on Twitter. For completely confidential conversations, ask Susanna for her number on Signal.




The open door policy got a serious upgrade. AllVoices’ Employee Feedback Management Platform systematically asks for, accepts, analyzes, and acts on feedback of all kinds. You can catch culture issues in real time, identify ideas, reduce turnover, and save on recruiting costs while employees remain totally and truly anonymous. Learn more here.  


A desktop computer plugged into a green couch.

Today’s top HR reads.

Stat: Employers are still struggling to bring employees back to the office. According to data security firm Kastle, the average office-occupancy rate among 10 major US cities during the week of March 2, 2022 was 38%, led by the Austin, Texas-metro, at nearly 54%. (Kastle)

Quote: “Most companies I’m talking to are typically moving to a two-pay system. Fully remote workers may see their pay frozen, while folks that come back to the office are going to get a 5% to 10% pay increase, which isn’t really a pay increase but setting it to market norms [due to inflation]...”—Nicholas Bloom, Stanford University economist, speaking about the prospect of paying higher salaries to employees who go into the office with BBC Worklife

Read: How the pandemic changed the tech industry’s geographical center of gravity from Silicon Valley to Anytown, USA. (Wall Street Journal)

HR all stars: ChartHop’s 2022 People Pioneers Award celebrates HR leaders who took on the last two years with creativity and compassion. Meet these visionary leaders and see how ChartHop can help you lead your company through whatever comes next. Meet the winners.*

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  • A federal judge ordered Walmart to rehire and pay $50,000 in back pay to a fired employee with Down syndrome in a “disability discrimination lawsuit.”
  • United Airlines will allow 2,000 unvaccinated employees who had been placed on unpaid leave last year to return to work on March 28.
  • Disney CEO Bob Chapek apologized to employees for the company’s initial attempt to avoid commenting on Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill; Disney has paused political giving in Florida and pledged to support LGBTQ+ causes.
  • The EEOC is suing Chipotle for sexual harassment, claiming the company violated federal law by “subjecting young female employees to egregious and ongoing sexual harassment from October 2019 to June 2020.”


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