CHIEU Cao, co-founder of Perkbox, is on a mission to transform the workplace. First stop? His own business. Perkbox is an employee benefits platform currently used by over 500,000 workers across the UK. Launched in 2014 by Chieu and Saurav Chopra, it is the fastest growing employee benefits platform. At a recent Leap 100 breakfast, Chieu set out how employee incentives are both his business model and his business strategy. Perks are a key component of Perkbox’s culture, but it’s not just about being nice. He believes they “give you a competitive advantage, by selling happiness in the workplace. If you want to be successful, you have to understand the drivers of productivity.” Chieu has observed how employees use their perks with co-workers, increasing social cohesion in the workplace: “we encourage teams to go for a coffee together and watch a movie as a team”.
Chieu’s mission is to create a world where a better relationship between employees and employers is more commonplace. “It all boils down to culture, our mission is our North Star”. When it comes to hiring and firing, “the culture is more important than the individual”. He wants workplaces to be seen in a positive light, rather than a ball and chain pervading employees’ homelives. “If you get a discount, you can give it to your wife or husband. When you go out shopping, they may ask where it’s from, and a conversation happens about how great your work is,” he explains.
The majority of Perkbox’s employees are millennials. Chieu thinks culture and the learning process are more important for them. “Corporate values matter to them a lot more than previous generations. It’s really important. They want to know why we exist as a business.” As such, like many Leap 100 companies, Perkbox takes its stated mission and values very seriously.
On giving equity to employees, Chieu found that “it can mean a lot to a lot of people, but it can also mean nothing to people who don’t know about that space, so you have to educate them on the long-term value of equity.” The next step for Chieu’s vision in improving the employee-employer relationship is to build a real-time survey app that allows employees to communicate how they feel about their job on a daily basis.
Chieu wants to create more transparent offices and move away from the traditional surveys carried out by HR. He wants to “democratise communication” so that employees can voice their concerns, and their needs. It also means that managers are held accountable for whatever’s wrong.
Chieu’s vision for Perkbox goes beyond perks. “We’re not just here to sell products, we’re here to improve your culture and how you operate with your employees.” He is a boss who practises what he preaches.