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Why Pitney Bowes is offering employees advanced pay and free education

August 26, 2022, 12:21 PM UTC
Image of Andrew Gold
Pitney Bowes' CHRO Andrew Gold is doubling down on the employee experience to boost retention.
Courtesy of Pitney Bowes

Good morning!

The enterprise shipping company Pitney Bowes has over 11,000 global employees, spanning warehouse operations and drivers, to engineers and IT. The talent shortage in the shipping and logistics sector, along with supply chain bottlenecks, have pushed the company’s senior vice president and CHRO Andrew Gold to double down on customized benefits and employee programs that will have wide adoption—and ultimately boost retention and employer branding. 

For today’s Friday spotlight, Gold shares his efforts to improve the company’s employee experience.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


Fortune: What does creating a ‘good’ employee experience entail in today’s workplace? 

Prioritizing the employee experience requires us to change perspective and to understand how employees view their work environment. What makes enhancing the employee experience so hard is how much goes into creating experiences. It starts as soon as a potential applicant goes to a job site and continues as they progress through their career at the company, including how they are offboarded. It’s affected by company culture, the employee’s management and teams, growth opportunities, compensation and benefits, physical conditions in a facility, HR—and many other drivers.   

What does that look like in practice at Pitney Bowes?

First, we had to determine what should be included in our concept of the employee experience. We did so by using external research and feedback from our employees, as well as facilitating design sessions. Then, we created a project management office team to manage the various activities that we identified. As part of this work, we had to determine owners for each area, many of whom were from outside of HR, such as IT and managers. Our initial focus was the onboarding process for our shipping and mailing sortation businesses since improving retention in these areas would result in measurable productivity improvements.

How then do you cater to the diverse needs of your employees across functions?

Many aspects of creating an engaging employee experience are basically the same, regardless of role. Do employees feel they are part of a team? Are employees treated with respect and empathy? Do employees have an opportunity to grow?

Managers, especially frontline managers, must have the tools needed to inclusively lead a diverse workforce. We recently launched a global inclusive leadership program for all managers and are launching training on how to have “crucial conversations.” We also have our “PB Bucks” program, designed to recognize our sortation employees in real time, and a variety of training programs (formal and experiential) that help all levels of employees develop new skills and prepare for their next opportunities. 

Pitney Bowes has some unique benefits like paying tuition upfront and advance weekly pay. Why has the company chosen to invest in such offerings? 

We look for benefit offerings that support employees in growing their careers, provide assistance in their personal lives, and drive attraction and retention. We offer advances against pay and recently moved our hourly sortation employees to weekly pay based on their feedback and what was needed to be competitive. We offer free education, including English as a Second Language courses, to help employees grow their careers.

What’s one tip you would offer your peers on how to keep workers happy?

Listen to your employees and applicants—not just about their compensation and benefit wants, but also their frustrations, what skills they want to develop, and what’s happening in their personal lives. Recognize that ensuring a bathroom is clean or that there are enough microwaves in the break room can also be a huge driver as to how happy a certain type of employee is.

I want to hear from you! What are the biggest HR challenges and priorities today? Reach out to me at amber.burton@fortune.com. I’m hosting 15-minute desksides with HR and DEI executives. You could see your response in a future newsletter.

Amber Burton
amber.burton@fortune.com
@amberbburton

What’s Perk-olating?

Highlights of the latest news in HR perks and benefit news.

In recent years, education benefits have gone from a luxury to a critical talent offering. Gone are the days when companies could simply wave the carrot of tuition reimbursement for traditional four-year degrees. This week, I spoke to Jill Buban, general manager and vice president of EdAssist Solutions at Bright Horizons, about the changing education benefits landscape, which now takes employees’ career paths into consideration. 

“Ten years ago, [education benefits] were a ‘nice-to-have’…now it’s being used as this great equalizer. It's a DEI initiative, it's a way to attract and retain talent; all of those things. And so I think we've been looking at ways to use best practices in education—stackable credentials, skills-based learning, career pathways—and bring them into the education benefits world. Ten years ago that would have been tuition reimbursement. You take the course, you get the grade that's required by your company's policy, and then you get reimbursed… that's a definite change.”

Around the Table

- When remote workers are required to travel to the office for in-person gatherings, who should cover the costs? At large companies, employers eat the expense. The same can’t be said for small businesses. The Washington Post

- Leaders have become more vulnerable in the workplace as empathetic leadership becomes more commonplace. But some risk taking it too far, making employees uncomfortable. New York Times

- California’s Civil Rights Department is investigating Pinterest. One of the witnesses asked to testify is Ifeoma Ozoma, a former public policy employee at Pinterest, who alleged in a viral Twitter thread that she suffered regular gender discrimination at the company. Protocol 

- Starbucks is being accused of creating a “culture of fear” among employees to deter unionization efforts. The National Labor Relations Board has issued 21 complaints against Starbucks, consisting of 548 allegations of labor law violations. Guardian

- The debate over "quiet quitting" rages on, with a host of business leaders like Arianna Huffington and Kevin O’Leary weighing in. The main question: Are quiet quitters setting healthy work-life boundaries or just bad team players? The Wall Street Journal

Roll Call

The latest in HR executive moves. 

Board International appointed Mandy Jeffery, the former VP of people at Workday, as its new chief people officer. Figma promoted its former VP of talent, Nadia Singer, to CPO.

Have a move? Let me know: amber.burton@fortune.com

Watercooler

Everything you need to know from Fortune

Grieve leave. Bereavement leave in the U.S. doesn’t offer people enough time to properly grieve their loved ones, writes Fortune’s Trey Williams. Without sufficient time to adequately address the emotional toll of a family member’s passing, people return to work still struggling with grief. And when an employee’s well-being suffers, so does their company’s performance. Less engaged employees are less productive employees. —Trey Williams

Sailing through life. The co-CEO of a crypto hedge fund announced he would step down, sharing in a Twitter thread that he felt his work had become his life and that he wants to prioritize other interests. He’s part of a growing number of young leaders who, despite success, have jetted off in search of work-life balance. —Christian Hetzner

Crisis of belonging. The best way to stop the Great Resignation is to make sure employees feel a sense of belonging in the office, writes Anthony Silard, ​​an associate professor of leadership at Luiss Business School, in a commentary for Fortune. He lists three ways companies can engender a positive culture of belonging: kindness, social connection and…a return to the office. —Anthony Silard

This is the web version of CHRO Daily, a newsletter focusing on helping HR executives navigate the needs of the workplace. Today’s edition was curated by Paolo Confino. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.