From the top · 23 April 2018

Perkbox co-founder Chieu Cao urges SMEs to put employees first

Perkbox co-founder Chieu Cao
The employee benefit and perks business with a wellness mission to match, Perkbox is leading the way in staff motivation.

Nearly eight years in, Perkbox co-founder, Chieu Cao, is continuing to spread the message that employee happiness is the key to success.

Business Advice caught up with Cao to discover how it all started, how to put your employees first and what future hopes he has for his own business.

What inspired you to start Perkbox?

I had just taken a voluntary redundancy package from Microsoft, so I used that as an incentive to start my own business. At the time, Groupon was popular, so Saurav Chopra the other co-founder and I came together, and we thought we should make a Groupon for businesses. So that’s how Huddlebuy started as a daily deals site for SMEs. We have always been focused on helping businesses. Which is why we then pivoted and realised that the biggest asset to a business is its employees. So, we wanted to help them out, so that’s where we are now with Perkbox.

We are one of the fastest growing employee engagement businesses in the country, earning tens of millions in revenue a year, with over 200 employees. We could have been happy with that, but I thought we could do more, I felt that we could really push forward with workplace wellbeing and happiness side of the business.

Otherwise, we are just pushing perks, anyone can do that. Im not just here to make money. Of course, you need to keep the lights on but life is about purpose and meaning, and that purpose is so valuable.

Why is that so important to you?

Employee engagement is at the heart of Perkbox
The way I look at life is life is too short. I need a meaning or purpose in my life if not Im wasting my time Id rather do something else. You also want to attract people with similar views. Perkbox is a very distinct place to work at, if you are here just for the money and don’t want to get involved with purpose and meaning then you won’t feel comfortable.

“We thought we should make a Groupon for businesses”

it’s a culture we have built around it. I have past experiences where I have worked at big companies, good places to work but it felt shallow. For millennials, which is 95 per cent of our staff, it’s not just a paycheck, its paycheck which matches your view of the world. If you get a good selection of people who see the same thing then ultimately you get that mission. Perkbox culture isnt a culture everyone should have its what works for us.

What makes Perkbox a unique platform?

Obviously, we are not the only employee benefits provider, let’s not kid ourselves. But we don’t just tackle enterprise corporate vendors lets go for the opposite. Let’s go for a prop that talks about a consumer-facing brand. We are selling happens we are selling happy when they think about Perkbox they should think about fun.

Let’s go straight to the employee, connect the brand to the employee not just to the HR and to the admin or business owner. And make that brand prominent and deliver on the promises and have amazing perks, 6 cinema products yeah, Ill take one.

What can employers do to put their people first?

Recognise the value of the people first and realise that individuals need to be treated differently. Self-recognition is very important. That’s step one. Step two is to create communication channels that work, leaning on HR, getting HR more prominent position in the organisation and creating a culture where HR has more of an influence and can help bridge that communications. The third is action have HR tell you what the problems are.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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