It isn’t just young, upstart companies that are getting creative with benefits and work policies. CSG may be more than 35 years old, but it has put a series of progressive policies in place that appeal to the young and old.
When Christine Mellon joined the company in 2016 as SVP, Chief Human Resources Officer, there was already work being done to move CSG away from some of the old school approaches to work culture. “There is an acknowledgement that we have a workforce that is comprised of adults who have the ability to make decisions for themselves about what works for them, what they need and how to balance their lives,” she says. “We didn’t want to create or recreate an archaic approach or be highly paternalistic.”
Instead, CSG put into place flexible vacations, extended parental leave and eliminated the concept of requesting sick time for full-time employees in the US. More established organizations can find it difficult to shift from traditional procedures. “At our senior leadership level, there was no hesitancy at all,” says Mellon. “We hit a few interesting points where we had employees who have been around for a long time who were high quality and delivering great work for us. They were definitely steeped in the notion that you earned certain things by virtue of years of service.”
Still, she says it wasn’t all that challenging to get them on board. “Once you sit down with someone and have a logical discussion… ‘do you think it actually make sense that an employer can tell an employee how many days they are allowed to be sick in a year?’ People laugh,” Mellon says. “Research shows high performing employees are the least likely to take sick time to begin with. And those people you also struggle with getting them to take vacation time because they’re working so hard. Once you start having those conversations, they start to appreciate the reality of the world of work vs what an old policy might have covered.”
And keep in mind, CSG’s workforce is getting younger, with 30-40% falling in the Gen X and Millennial categories. CSG has found that time off is tracking about where it did before the policy shift happened in 2017. One of the ways CSG encouraged employees to take time off was to urge senior leaders to take at least three weeks off a year and be very public about it.
Before the world was working from home due to COVID-19, CSG was adopting a flexible policy for telework. “If something works really well for an employee and we can accommodate that, we want to accommodate that—whether that’s someone who needs to have Fridays where they’re working from their home or they may not work on Mondays, but are working on Sundays because that’s what they want to do because it works better for them,” Mellon says. “Or they may not have an office in a particular building of ours because they are roaming around the world so much. We’ve had individuals that have had a personal need to relocate, we’ve been very open. If it doesn’t impede the job, we’re great with that. We even have an executive leadership team today that’s distributed and not all at headquarters. And it’s the most effective leadership team I’ve been a part of in my career.”
Looking ahead, CSG is hoping to bring even more flexibility to the workplace. That could allow employees to have personal input on what matters most to them. “They would get the same value of investment from the company, but how they apply that investment would line up with their personal priorities,” Mellon says. “Even in places like learning, we want that to be very self-directed, instead of check-the-box courses you have to complete. We are trying to modernize anything that’s an employee-received aspect of their employment so it’s less vanilla.”