How to Set-Up an Employee Stipend in Just 1 Hour

by Sarah Bedrick

You’ve decided you’re going to offer your people an employee stipend. Awesome news! 

You’re likely adding them to your suite of offerings for one of the following benefits:

  • consolidate existing perk vendors
  • a way to support your remote workers
  • you have a global team with diverse needs
  • you want to streamline the process of managing perks 
  • you need to ensure IRS tax compliance
  • your team is asking for them

Regardless of the reason, you and your people are about to experience a bounty of benefits.

how to set up an employee stipend fast
At Compt, employee stipends are our specialty, and nobody knows them better than we do. 

Before we share the steps to setting up your stipend, below are some of the popular stipend configurations from our customers and the industry.

1. WFH/Remote Work Stipend

  • Length: One-time spot bonus when employees first start, 3 months to spend
  • Amount: $200 - $1,000
  • Categories on Compt: Productivity, Tech, Cell Phone, Internet
  • Typical Uses: Desks, chairs, monitors, keyboards, mice, other ergonomic equipment

2. “All-Inclusive” Perks Stipend

  • Length: Quarterly
  • Amount: $100-$300
  • Categories on Compt: All
  • Typical Uses: Anything!

3. Health and Wellness Stipend

  • Length: Quarterly
  • Amount: $150-$300
  • Categories on Compt: Food, Health & Wellness
  • Typical Uses: Gym/fitness memberships, wellness app subscriptions (meditation, online classes, etc.), workout clothes, healthy foods

4. Snack Stipend

  • Length: Monthly
  • Amount: $50-100
  • Categories on Compt: Food, Health & Wellness
  • Typical Uses: Snacks, coffee, groceries

5. Learning & Development Stipend

  • Length: Annual
  • Amount: $1,000-$2,000
  • Categories on Compt: Professional Development, Personal Development
  • Typical Uses: Books, online courses, conferences, events, coaching

Note: Since “traditional” in-person events/conferences are no longer applicable, many employees seek other ways to use their Learning & Development funds. Encourage your team to be creative when thinking about how to develop their skills further!

The length, amount, and categories are suggestions. Compt’s stipends are fully customizable, so you can always change these settings based on your preference!

If you want to see examples from leading organizations, here’s another list for you with 63 employee stipend examples.

Now that we’ve covered some of the most common configurations, below, we’ve highlighted the 6 steps we walk our customers through every time they choose to support their people with stipends (it’s like an angel getting their wings!).

6 Steps to Setting Up Your Company’s Employee Stipend

1. Determine your budget

Yup, we’re kicking this off with the budget talk! But for real, the budget is a significant element of this process because you need to be clear on what you want to spend for your stipend(s).

Now, if you’ve already been offering stipends, you likely already have your budget for employee spending handy. 

However, if you haven’t yet identified a budget, here are a few ways you could come up with funds that are better invested in a stipend:

  • Reallocate your unused in-office perks budget 
  • Consolidate your existing perk vendors into one comprehensive stipend [our perk cost calculator can help!]
  • Consider using a stipend for employee costs that you already cover, or know you want to. For example, if you have a work-from-home stipend to help employees set up their home office, your budget could cover anything from a new mousepad to a new desk.

Also, the beauty of stipends is that you can start small and always increase it later on. You learn a lot by just getting started and asking your employees for feedback. You don’t need much money to test a stipend program and to also make a meaningful difference in your people's lives.

2. Pick the spending cycle

In Compt, you can select from four spending cycles: monthly, quarterly, semiannually, and annually. 

If you’re setting up more than one type of stipend, you can select different spending cycles for each and customize which employees have access to which ones. 

You also can choose to give all of the funds to your people upfront, upfront with prorating, or monthly. 

pick stipend spending cycles

3. Pick your spending categories

Stipends are an invaluable way to offer your employees the perks or fringe benefits that excite them. Instead of selecting a list of vendors that you hope your people would want to use, creating a stipend expands their world of possibility since they’re only limited by dollar amount and their imagination.

In Compt, you have the option to select from 17 different perk categories, including:

  • Health & Wellness
  • Personal Development
  • Professional Development
  • Financial Wellness
  • Family
  • Pets
  • Food
  • Tech
  • Cell Phone
  • Equipment
  • Internet
  • Productivity
  • Travel
  • Charitable Giving
  • Commuter (Parking and/or Transportation)
  • Student Loan Repayments
  • Team Events

employee stipend categories
With Compt, you can create one program that’s custom-built with several spending categories, or build several stipends with one spending category each. We have customers that do both!

Example in practice:

Basecamp is a well-known culture thought-leader who offers its people several different stipends. Currently, they offer their people the following stipends:

  • $100/month for fresh produce
  • $100 for home massages
  • $1,000 annual continuing education allowance
  • $4,000 annual vacation stipend, and more. 

In Basecamp’s situation, they could put all of this into one single Basecamp lifestyle stipend, or keep them independent as they are with each having its own varying spending cycle. 

An invaluable feature I should also mention is that everyone who uses Compt for stipends is automatically tax-compliant. We put the tax information right up front so you can keep those in mind when setting up your stipends. We make the tax information visible to your people too, on their dashboard and when claiming their perks so that they’re able to make the most of your investment.

A note about the vendorless approach

In Compt, you’ll notice that our category structure operates a little differently than every other product on the market.

First, our categories are not tied to specific vendors. When it comes to ways employees would want to enrich their lives, there are countless options for them to choose from today, and so it’s unrealistic to ever have a completely full vendor list with the companies that every person could conceivably choose from. With employee stipends through Compt, you make complete personalization possible; from local ice cream stores to their favorite corner yoga spot.

Secondly, our categories are broad and don’t come with pre-defined restrictions of what employees can purchase. If you look around (virtually, of course) at several of your colleagues, it’s easy to see that everyone’s needs are different. What health and wellness means to one person might be completely different from the next, and even more varied from the next. I’m a married mom of one toddler, and I’ve personally used my Compt stipend to purchase diapers, a post-natal massage, coaching sessions, and a half marathon race ticket (pre-pregnancy). My colleague has used his to purchase food delivery, a gift for a colleague (awww, how nice!), basketball shoes, and a whiteboard.

If you want to put tight constraints on what people can buy, or who they can buy from, we recommend checking out a more restrictive card-based product such as Emburse. 

At Compt, we believe that we should stop prioritizing perks and start prioritizing people. That’s why we’ve built the most customizable and flexible employee stipend management software on the market.

4. Provide a name and description

Now it’s time to name your stipend(s) and provide additional color for your team. 

Some examples from customers of ours that we love include: 

  • “Treat Yo Self” for a stipend with several spending categories, and “Teach Yo Self” for a stipend with Professional Development selected.
  • “Care4U” for a stipend from Great Place to Work, which includes every spending category available.
  • “Do Your Thing” with every spending category chosen.
  • “Supporting our values of Balance & Belonging” -- this one is ours at Compt and helps us to keep our values top of mind.

5. Schedule a launch date for your stipend.

It's simple in Compt, just select the date you want your stipend go to live.

6. Tell your employees all about it.

Once you’re completed with the items above, particularly on how the stipend categories apply to your company and employees, go ahead and send an email, a Slack message (or whatever team communication tool you prefer!), and announce your stipend(s) in your next all-hands or larger team meetings. In doing so, be sure to

  • highlight the details that matter like the stipend amount, how often they’ll receive it, and how to use it (with Compt, all they need to do is log into their account and it’s all in one place)
  • explain what the categories mean for them and 
  • emphasize that this is in support of their unique needs, so spend it on what’s meaningful for them.

And that’s it! Easy peasy lemon squeezy.


Compt is the #1 employee stipends platform that gives your people the freedom to choose the lifestyle perks that are best for them and their always evolving needs, even when remote. Interested in learning how Compt might benefit your company? Consult with our team or request a demo