It’s not every day that the words “compensation” and “benefits” inspire giddiness in employees. But wellness stipends — particularly those eligible for glorious, sometimes indulgent, but still necessary instruments of self-care — often elicit that reaction.
Take professional services firm EY’s Well-being Fund, for example. The company pays 75% of the cost — up to $1,000 — of home office equipment, fitness classes, workout equipment and meal delivery services. Electric bikes and converter kits, blenders, juicers, air fryers, massages, tents and camping equipment are also eligible.
Frank Giampietro, EY’s newly appointed chief well-being officer for the Americas, said employees were excited at the mere thought of how to spend the money. “You know, just that anticipation of Christmas, a winter holiday or a birthday,” he said. Giampietro told HR Dive that EY has actively championed employee well-being for almost a decade.
In the past, his team considered what protocols were in place, whether EY employee needs were being met and what gaps needed to be filled.
Photo by Cliff Booth from Pexels
EY’s people team started reimbursing employees in 2015, courtesy of what was once called “Quality of Life Fund.” In 2018, the perk came from the “Fitness Fund.” In 2020, EY doubled the money from $500 to $1,000 and renamed the resource the “Well-being Fund.” An evolving nomenclature is indicative of the company’s ethos to address employee well-being with agility and wonder. Giampietro said the stipend was always intended to hold space for what was “meaningful” and to reject the “one-size-fits-all” approach to mental health.”People saw it as a way we’re continuing to invest in them and that we really care about their well-being,” he said.
A prime example: as of 2022, EY employees can spend their stipend on mattresses. Airfare, rental cars, hotels and other lodging are now also eligible. “We added in vacations because, as we come out of the pandemic and people want to start to travel again, we know the impact that can have for people from a mental and emotional health perspective,” Giampetro said.
Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels
EY has also expanded the fund to include a form of self-care that its chief well-being officer acknowledges as “controversial.” Gaming consoles and chairs, headsets and ear buds, controllers, monitors and webcams are all eligible for reimbursement by EY. Ditto the video games themselves.
“Our folks work hard like everybody else does. If they want to check out at the end of a long day, one way they like to do that is getting on a game [and] going away to a different place for a little while,” he said. “Get their brain off of work, and then come back and maybe be more productive. So we decided to add that into the fund as well …….