How a small tech company can have impactful, unique employee benefits
- Publish Date
- Christine McCallum-Randalls
To speak very candidly from the outset, I have a big personal grudge against the U.S. healthcare system. As a Human Resources professional, I stand by that statement. Even we experienced HR folks dread shopping for healthcare. It’s messy, confusing, expensive, and takes a whole lot of time and research.
Every. Single. Year.
Even with a benefits broker—the 3rd party that negotiates with insurers on your behalf, saving you time, money, and effort—it’s still painful. Human Resources is bound not only by cost, but also by legal regulations and the healthcare industry landscape.
Here’s a little secret into the world of benefits. Insurers decide whether or not they want a company’s business, not the other way around. This is frustrating for everyone. HR can’t always provide the benefits they want because sometimes they truly aren’t available.
The bright side is that the benefits landscape is always changing, and our company is growing, which increases our buying power in the insurance market. We’ve got some amazing folks who provide valuable insight and feedback as to what Test Double can do to provide better support. Ten years into the company and we’ve made some very big and exciting changes recently in offering some unique employee benefits.
100% company paid medical, dental, and vision premiums
Employees used to pay a percentage of their medical, vision, and dental premiums. No more!
Test Double now pays 100% of monthly premiums for all employees and their families. (Although this post is mostly about U.S. benefits, we also pay 100% of these premiums for our Canadian employees.)
Improved transgender, gender diverse, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming medical coverage
Y’all, this particular coverage landscape is not pretty. There is all sorts of medical care for these folks that most insurance providers will not cover. It is not inclusive and not okay. But as stated before, the landscape is always changing.
This year we had 1, count ‘em 1, provider who was willing to work with us, that provides better coverage for transgender, gender diverse, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming folks than we had before.
Make no mistake, our new benefits do not cover everything we’d like. But they do allow us to be more inclusive, which we value. And just in case you are a skeptic wondering if we lost coverage in other areas, no we did not.
Improved mental health benefits
Care for mental health should be part of health benefits. This is challenging within the current U.S. healthcare system, but mental health benefits are something we’re always looking to improve in our coverage. Employees and their families receive 5 in-person visits and unlimited online/telephone mental health services at no cost to them.
This likely won’t replace the mental health relationships some of our folks already have with their providers. But it can encourage new relationships, especially for folks who haven’t found our previous coverage to meet their needs and for folks who are new to counseling services.
As always, 10% growth time and work-life balance
Our mission is to improve the way the world builds software. In order to achieve that, TD has several practices in place to improve the quality of the lives of our folks. Two of our favorites are 10% growth time and a sustainable work-life balance.
We provide all employees with what we call 10% growth time. We value improvement and so 10% of a 40-hour workweek is expected to be spent on self improvement. This looks different for everyone. Some folks spend it on technical learning. Some find fulfillment in mentoring others. Some read. Others create goals and implement strategies to achieve them.
Let’s back up to the 40-hour work week. Before that gets seared in any brains, we value work-life balance more than a specific number of hours worked. Sure, most of our folks work around 40 hours. But more importantly we value folks taking time off when they need it, breaks during the day, and flexibility in their schedules.
Some of our west coasters are early risers and keep east coast hours, and vice versa. Some parents feel more productive taking their kids to soccer practice and then working a couple hours after little ones go to bed.
Working directly with clients can create some restrictions, but Test Double works hard to provide our folks with the autonomy they need.
Always improving—including our employee benefits
Life is inherently stressful. Neither HR nor the company will ever be able to remove all obstacles and pressures facing our folks. Test Double does have a responsibility to provide structures that decrease harm and uplift everyone. And our employees hold us to it. We aren’t perfect and will always have areas in which we can improve. As HR, I’m very excited about the progress we’ve made in our employee benefits and look forward to more.
We talk a lot about the idea that software is broken, but it can be fixed. Making improvements in employee benefits is one way we can help make an impact in the software industry and lead by example.