At equity management platform Carta, business and benefits aren't operated much differently.
"We are in the business of thinking creatively for customers," Carta Chief People Officer Suzy Walther told HR Dive in an interview. "Our CEO pushes us to think creatively for our workforce."
The strategy has led the company to cultivate a slate of progressive benefits and policies, some of which are unusual. But common or uncommon, Carta's offerings have helped it recruit and retain talent, even amid the pandemic, Walther said.
Walther's approach to benefits relies heavily on problems and solutions. Her creative process is informed by employee listening — understanding problems workers face and asking questions about their hurdles.
But she doesn't depend on employees to supply their own fix. No employee asked for the $10,000 child care stipend Carta rolled out during the beginning of the pandemic. But many raised the issue of child care costs, flagging it for Walther and other company leaders who took notice and found an answer.
Efficiency is key to this kind of innovation, according to Walther. When HR identifies a problem and finds a solution, it's imperative the team implements the idea quickly — or risk its reputation. "Every project can become so massive that you move slowly and lose credibility," she said. Her advice? "Put something out there and then refine it."
Carta introduced its "First and Best" initiative in January 2020. Under the policy, Carta engages in no salary negotiations, instead offering candidates the highest amount it can for a given position. "We know what we can afford, and that's what we're going to give you," Walther said. "We put that out overnight."
But it wasn't perfect by sunrise. Carta tweaked the policy, adjusting rollout and execution so candidates could understand what the initiative meant and how it applied to them.
Another of Carta's more progressive institutions is its minimum time off policy, which Walther detailed in an HR Dive opinion. "[U]nlimited PTO isn't doing what it was designed to do; namely, encourage employees to take time off," Walther wrote. "In place of traditional paid time off and unlimited paid time off, Carta implemented minimum time off. We require our people to take a minimum of 15 days off. Beyond that, vacation time is still unlimited — and encouraged."
This and other benefits are contributing to Carta's healthy vitals. Walther's noticed that the company's benefits help get talent in the door, particularly from larger financial institutions. "Even though big banks have deep pockets, they're reserved with benefits," she said. Carta's total compensation strategy is causing workers to stay, too. "We feel fortunate that our turnover is under control," Walther noted