B The Change: Better for Our People

Klausing Group on May 09, 2023

Our work is only possible because of our people. We believe that by prioritizing worker benefits, including seasonal employees, everyone wins. When we prioritize policies that benefit our team, they feel valued and financially secure. When our team feels valued and financially secure, retention of high-quality employees increases. And because our employees stick around and care, the work is better.  

The Workers section of the B Corporation assessment is structured to encourage just this: treating employees as valued stakeholders in your organization. Specifically, this section evaluates a company’s contributions to its employees’ financial security, health and safety, wellness, career development, and engagement and satisfaction. It recognizes business models that benefit workers by design, such as workforce development programs supporting individuals with barriers to employment.

B Corporations that score highly in this category have instated policies that respond to the specific context and needs of their workers. King Arthur Baking Company, one of the earliest and most well-known B Corps, prides itself on being 100% employee-owned and offering everyone 40 hours of VTO (volunteering time off) every year. FMS (a Louisville, Kentucky–based commercial cleaning company) has responded to its employees’ needs for fresh food with access to CSA programs and transportation to work sites with rideshare programs. Within our industry (though not a B Corp), ORG directly responds to the needs of its worker base. With programs such as an employee-supported emergency relief fund and financial assistance for first-generation college students. 

Since 2000, we have implemented our own programs and policies for the benefit of our people. One of our earliest programs was 10% for the Community, a VTO-type program paying our people to do work for community organizations for free. As we have embarked more intentionally on our smart landscaping and B Corporation journey, worker-oriented programs and policies have become our priority. 

Today, we offer paid holidays, paid time off (15-20 days for almost 90% of employees, nearly double the industry average), five paid sick days, health and dental insurance, life insurance, and free uniforms for all full-time employees — year-round and seasonal. We have also formalized a flex-time policy for year-round positions and introduced remote work options for our management staff. 

But the change we are most proud of is deciding to improve our health insurance options significantly. Our previous plan rewarded youth and penalized maturity, rewarded men and penalized women. Now, all employees pay the same rate regardless of age, gender, or ability to ‘buy up.’ Additionally, the new plan offers lower deductibles, lower co-pays, better co-insurance, and lower maximum out-of-pocket. We are also now paying 80% of employee-only coverage and 20% of dependent coverage. 

This decision was not the cheapest option for our company, not by a longshot. But it is the best option for taking care of our people, and a necessity if we want to ensure equitable access to healthcare. One team member in an older age bracket now pays less for more benefits. Another team member saved $100 per week by switching from her partner’s plan. 

We are proud of the progress we’ve made. But we are focused on what’s next. We are going after big goals: increasing the percentage of satisfied and engaged employees in our annual survey to 90%, providing free and affordable banking services and payroll cards, and offering free financial management tools and coaching. But our smaller goal will also have a big impact: writing our people-first approach into policy, ensuring that this ethos is codified in our very DNA.

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