TrendKite has been growing quickly the past couple of years and with that has come changing employee demographics.
The Austin, Texas-based PR analytics company, which was founded in 2012, started off with a younger workforce of employees who were in their low- to mid-20s. Because different generations have their own priorities, TrendKite has worked hard to offer great benefits that workers of all ages appreciate.
Many millennials are burdened with student loan debt, and paying that down takes precedence over stocking money away for retirement. TrendKite recently started offering Student Loan Genius Advisor to its 150 employees. The program is a student loan benefit that allows employees to explore different repayment options to find the best plan for their situation.
“[TrendKite is] growing really fast. With that, one of the biggest challenges they face is they are hiring fast and they want to hire the right people. How do we incentivize people to come work for us?” says Tony Aguilar, co-founder and CEO of Student Loan Genius in Austin, Texas. “Just looking at their culture and the type of ecosystem they want to build, our benefit was in line with their goals there.”
The public relations company wants to help its employees not just save for retirement but improve their overall personal situation, he adds.
Jen Cantu, vice president of people for TrendKite, says that her company is very focused on recruitment, retention and competition.
“We want folks to focus on their jobs, be excited by what they are doing and be fully supported by us so they are not looking to cross the street,” she says. “We have technology companies in the vicinity that could pick up folks here or entice them to explore what they have to offer.”
The company believes that the Student Loan Genius programs will be an inviting recruitment and retention tool for younger employees who are just out of college. At the end of the year, TrendKite was examining how many of its employees were participating in the Student Loan Genius Advisor program to determine if adding a match to the program would be a good fit.
“From the buzz and folks taking down some loans, we’ve gotten good feedback about it. I feel they would be excited to have a match there,” she says.
TrendKite likes that Student Loan Genius didn’t require it to offer a match out of the gate. It makes it easier for a startup company like TrendKite to offer benefits that matter to its employees on a smaller budget.
“As you build that with employees and add pieces to it, they see it as a more positive movement toward their needs,” Cantu says. “They enjoy being taken care of. Millennials will work hard and do what they can but they also want to be taken care of.”
Student Loan Genius also offers a program that allows employers to put a matching contribution into an employee’s retirement account, based on what they contribute to paying down their student loan debt. Cantu believes this program would also be a good fit for TrendKite.
Keeping workers healthy and happy
Some of the company’s other offerings target employee happiness. TrendKite has a full kitchen and a full bar. They also provide a catered lunch on Fridays and offer a free gym membership.
“We want to keep our people healthy and happy. Our healthcare is top of mind as well. We offer a free option for folks so they have no healthcare premium,” she says. It also will cover spouses and children at 50%. The company also offers stock options to every employee who is offered a job and a health savings account program that can be turned into long-term healthcare savings.
“We see that as a valuable long-term investment,” she says.
The company doesn’t currently offer a 401(k) plan but “with a growing demographic of people interested in that, we plan to offer that in the coming year,” she says.
TrendKite also promotes from within so many of its positions come in at a low level, but there is a growth path. It hired a director of learning and development to put together training programs for its staff members.
“What keeps people engaged, a true benefit, is being able to grow, being offered something that will support them in the future,” Cantu says. “That learning development is very valuable to people and keeps them in one place.”
Younger workers all want to be in management tomorrow, she says with a laugh.
“As a leadership team, we recognize that not only is that not reality, that’s not how you build a strong business,” she says. “There has to be more balance. They all want these big salaries, but in the end, they can’t get there without experience and training.”
The thing about millennials is that “they want to have an impact. They want to have a say. They want a vested interest in what they’re doing. Sometimes there are also those who have their antenna up for the next best thing,” she says.
TrendKite wants to build that culture of happiness so these workers will want to stay. The company offers unlimited vacation time to all of its employees. Employees are able to take the vacation time they want as long as they are performing their duties and taking responsibility for the company’s business objectives throughout the year.
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