Founded in 2019, Column is a public benefit corporation that provides publishers with a user-friendly public notice software platform to streamline operations and deliver modern solutions for their clients required by law to place notices (governments, legal services, individuals, and businesses).
In 2022, Column raised a $30M Series A to expand its services to improve public information systems and transactions beyond public notices. As its offering has grown, so has its team. The remote-first company is comprised of "software engineers, marketers, salespeople, operators, and designers. But [they] are also musicians, authors, dancers, (recovering) lawyers, former startup founders, and even award-winning filmmakers."
As a global, remote-first startup, Column’s team stretches across 5 continents, so reaching the team personally was a challenge for Head of People Operations Melissa Theiss.
“Compt gave the most flexibility and choice to the employees themselves as opposed to the employer. And so in our case, I thought it would meet most people's needs the best,” said Theiss.
When they did an annual benefits survey prior to rolling out Compt, they found their team all wanted something different. Everyone agreed on wanting a 401k employer match, but they also wanted nearly 20 other perks. The other issue is that Column was already offering a few great perks, but utilization was low because people didn’t know the benefits existed or how to use them.
Theiss knew they needed:
"A benefits program is successful if and only if people are aware of it, they feel empowered to use it, and their experience is a positive one,” Theiss explained. “I didn’t feel like our current stipends were accomplishing that.”
Theiss evaluated a few strategies to roll out benefits, weighing the pros and cons of a vendor marketplace versus a reimbursement model. She looked at what companies of similar sizes were doing, had conversations with other HR professionals in Slack communities, reviewed G2, and compared competitors.
Ultimately, she went with reimbursement due to the importance of global parity. It was important that everyone on their team could access the same tool and upload receipts for reimbursement in their respective currencies. Theiss said the flexibility of the Compt platform was a major selling point.
Column chose Compt to manage custom perks to its remote team, including:
From the implementation call in mid-November to the launch in mid-December, it took about a month to onboard Column. A week later, employees were invited to the platform and able to submit their first receipts for reimbursement before the end of the year and just in time for the holidays.
Column can see the meaningful impact the stipends have on its employees. Theiss shared anecdotes of the ways people are taking advantage of the stipend created to support their overall well-being.
One of our team members, for example, took her daughter to Disney World and she'd never been before. Others are paying off student loans. Some of them are advancing their payments to pay down the principal. We’ve seen reimbursements for executive coaching or career coaching through things like BetterUp.
After comparing what people had originally reported wanting versus what they are actually spending, Theiss realized a stark contrast. One of the most requested items was a WeWork membership, but spending behavior suggests that specific benefit would have seen very low utilization and high upfront investment.
“I think it saved us time and money on not ruling out things that people ultimately wouldn't have benefited from or wouldn't have,” Theiss said.
People... are using it to access resources or create experiences with their loved ones that they wouldn't have otherwise. And for us, that looks like a success.
Head of People Operations at Column
A Flexible Solution for a Growing Team
Theiss sees the immediate impact on Column’s U.S. team and is looking forward to the potential for the global team. The integration with their U.S. payroll has been seamless, but they still have to manage international employees manually until Compt expands integration to that payroll provider. Despite some growing pains, as the platform becomes more robust and customers like Theiss are able to offer product feedback, she said she sees the value in the subscription.
Overall, Compt has been a great solution for offering a variety of Lifestyle Spending Accounts to new hires and current employees. The flexibility and personalization has resulted in less wasted benefits budget for Theiss and more meaningful benefits for the Column team.
Learn how Compt can help you transform your old benefits into personalized perks that your employees will actually use and love. Schedule a demo today.