Paul McCarthy, CPO, SevenRooms


Time is our most precious resource, and how we spend our time is perhaps the most important decision leaders and employees can be making right now, says Paul McCarthy, Chief People Officer, SevenRooms.

Employee priorities have changed over the past few years. To help employees be their best selves at work, employers should cater to the individual needs of every employee and provide the necessary supports to help them balance their work and personal lives.

In this episode of the HR in 2023 series, Paul McCarthy, Chief People Officer of SevenRooms, reminds us that jobs are important, but businesses should also value the private time of employees, allow employees the flexibility to make choices themselves, and avoid one-size-fits-all benefits.

The HR leader is here to share how to make this happen.

Compensation & benefits / employee wellbeing

Living and working through a global pandemic created challenges for every person on our planet. While it’s unlikely that 2023 will pose greater challenges than those we’ve experienced over the last few years, it does offer the promise of more certainty and stability since the pandemic began. There is a real opportunity for HR and People teams to think more holistically and long-term about employee wellness going forward.

The last two years brought more open conversations around mental health and social wellbeing at work than ever before. I foresee a continued emphasis on ensuring that both businesses and their wellbeing policies, in addition to compensation and benefits, will be personalised and provide genuine value for employees. Specifically, how can businesses move away from one-size-fits-all compensation, benefits and employee wellbeing programmes, and tailor their offerings to the needs of each and every individual team member?

In 2023, to have maximum impact, companies must further their personalisation of benefits for employees to provide something genuinely relevant and useful for everyone. For example, you might provide fantastic fertility or parental leave benefits, but they’re only going to be beneficial to the handful of people who are having a baby.

So how can you provide something of equivalent value to the remainder of the company? One way to circumnavigate that, and ensure that every benefit is tailored to the needs and desires of an individual employee, is through stipends. We offer our employees a monthly stipend that can be used for anything from student loans to travel to fitness. If you can give people optionality and allow them to make those choices themselves, you’re ensuring your business works for them, not vice versa.

The pandemic has been a period of immense reflection for employers and employees alike, and one of the biggest takeaways for us has been the importance of time. Time is our most precious resource as humans, whether you earn it or give it away. And how we spend our time is perhaps the single most important decision leaders and employees can be making right now.

Our jobs are an important part of our lives, but they don’t define us.

Every member of our team has a life outside of work - whether that’s children, caring for a relative or just personal passions - and no job should diminish their commitment to their families or the pursuit of their passions.

So whether that’s flexible remote work policies, or something else entirely, employees want freedom first and foremost, and their employers should be the ones championing that decision and providing support to make that a consistent reality.

At SevenRooms, for example, we have introduced a policy in which every single new hire spends their first two weeks of employment on paid leave. All employees are also required to schedule a minimum of five consecutive days of paid leave during the first half and second half of the year, with a minimum of 10 days required for those with five or more years of tenure.

This is in addition to our monthly recharge days, which enable our employees to take one day a month to refresh and recharge away from their computers, outside of their regular PTO. We want people to be able to take the time they need to rest and recharge before embarking on a new journey with us and continue to find time to step away and reset once onboard.

It’s about more than all the additional leave, it's about continuously proving that our employees’ time is meaningful to us.

This article first appeared in the Q4 edition of Human Resources Online's Hong Kong e-magazine. View the e-magazine here, where you'll find power-packed features and interviews with leaders from Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, the UK, India, and more!

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