Key Ways Small Companies Can Help Employees Feel Valued - woman writing in notebook at desk with tablet in front of her

Key Ways Small Companies Can Help Employees Feel Valued

David Malmborg
May 31, 2022
October 9, 2022

Incredible benefits aren't just for large companies. Paxton Gray of 97th Floor talked to us about how his company created a culture of feeling heard and valued. Their benefits are more than just benefits; they're designed to help employees grow and succeed in all areas of life.

Read on to learn how 97th Floor is doing it and get some inspiration on how to support your employees, too.

This blog post is inspired by a Key Conversation on Mental Health live stream with Paxton Gray. You can check out the entire conversation below.

Only 44 percent of companies with 49 or fewer employees provide retirement and health plans.

With limited budgets and resources, providing benefits for small companies can be intimidating. But, small businesses that invest in their people can reap incredible results.

97th Floor is a superb example. Their company of about 120 employees has a handful of 30-somethings that have been with the company for 10 years. That's really saying something!

Gray says that their key to success isn't just about incredible benefits. "Helping them feel valued doesn't just mean pay and benefits... it means that we trust you."

And that means listening. Gray's organization holds company reviews every six months, where employees give feedback on how the company is doing well and what they could be doing better. This has led to a lot of great benefit ideas like pet insurance.

The Benefits Litmus Test

Not every benefit is worth the trouble and expense, though.

Gray asks four questions before taking on a new benefit:

  1. Does it provide value?
  3. Is it more economical for the company to provide it to the employees than for employees to get it out of their own pocket?
  5. Is it a band-aid to compensate for a bad work experience?
  7. Does it help employees grow, become healthier, more talented, etc.?

"All of our benefits are designed to help elevate the people that work here," explains Gray.

Gray emphasizes that he's not a fan of providing benefits that force employees to spend money in a certain way; he'd sooner pay them more. It all goes back to the trust factor that is so strong within their organization.

Gray focuses on how these benefits will help employees, not on the ROI for the company itself. "I don't even think of ROI in these benefits, I just think about if it will make them [employees] better."

Great Culture Leads to Great Benefits

97th Floor has a culture of ROWE: Results-Only Work Environment.

"Are we paying them for their time or being in a certain place at a certain time? No, we are paying them for the results," explains Gray.

Gray's company doesn't care if employees are in the office from 9 to 5 or not. "The burden on managers is relieved and forces them to focus on: is this person doing the job, or not? That's all I care about."

This creates a culture of trust and increased efficiency. Employees who feel trusted are more likely to share innovations, leading to better results. This leaves more money and resources on the table to support employees through great benefits, which helps the positive cycle continue.

Benefits For Life

97th Floor focuses so much on supporting people and their growth that they are genuinely happy for employees when they find new opportunities. They have an alumni Slack channel where people post jobs, look for hires, and reconnect. Their annual alumni event is a popular way for past coworkers to catch up and discuss what they are working on now and how 97th Floor helped them get there.

"I don't like to advertise the benefits that we offer... because I don't want someone coming and working here for those benefits. I want them coming here because of the work we do... and I want them to stay for that. If you're not engaged in the work we're doing, you have to find something else that engages you. I don't want you stuck here because you can't find better benefits elsewhere."

Making people feel heard and taking action on what they have said is a great way to make your people feel valued. The result has been huge, with excellent productivity, retention, morale, and efficiency.

A live stream event by Nivati inspired this blog post. You can watch the recording below. Follow us on Linkedin to stay in the loop on future live stream events.


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David Malmborg
David Malmborg