Employee Well-being & Work-Life Balance at B Lab Europe

How B Lab Europe advances employees' well-being & work-life balance by drawing from B Corps’ best practices

The B Lab Europe team at a team retreat

Written by Claire Pace, Head of Operations & Daniela Gonzalez, Operations Lead at B Lab Europe

 

A few years ago, B Lab Europe – the European branch of the global non-profit behind the B Corp certification – was a very small team with about five people. But with the rapid growth of the B Corp movement, it has quickly grown to nearly 25. At the start of this year, employee benefits were limited to an individual professional development allowance as well as a company pension scheme. While these benefits build a valuable foundation, the reality was that key benefits that would genuinely elevate employees’ well-being and work-life balance to the next level were missing.

 

As Head of Operations, my first reaction, and something I would have done when working for previous companies, was to come up with a list of benefits I thought the team would appreciate. But I soon have come to realize that I wasn’t going to be the one that knew what our employees valued most when it came to benefits. Things had changed with the Covid-19 pandemic and, as an employer, we at B Lab Europe needed to recognize this and adapt our practices and benefits to match the new reality.

 

The B Lab Europe team at a Team Retreat in Italy 2022


As a first step, we gathered inspiration from those who are way ahead of the game when it comes to benefiting their workforce –
B Corps. Ranging from unlimited holidays at Tony’s Chocolonely to access to on-site child care for employees at WeTransfer to adopting an “outdoor culture” with flexible time off on days with good weather at Patagonia, Certified B Corporations are bringing employee well-being to the next level through years and decades of practice. Drawing inspiration from the benefits and changes B Corps had put in place, helped us at B Lab Europe to map best practices in that space. 

 

After collecting this information, we ran an internal session with our employees, discussing some of the popular benefits and trends from 2022 as well as benefit packages from B Corps we loved and felt inspired by. We then asked employees to highlight the benefits that were the most important to them. Benefits that they valued the most and that aligned with our values as an organization, the way that we like to work and support our employees. This process resulted in seven different categories of benefits: flexible working, holidays, health & wellbeing, giving back, professional development, and contributions.

 

 

Flexible Working

Even pre-pandemic we firmly believed that the idea of 9-5 in the office five days a week didn’t result in more quality work or happy employees. One positive aspect the pandemic brought with it was that it forced companies to see that flexible working can work and we believe when possible, it should be the way forward. 

At B Lab Europe, we offer hybrid working. While we recognize that coming to the office to collaborate and discuss face to face with colleagues is important and valuable, we don’t see this as necessary every single day of the week. Employees have the freedom to decide when to work from the office but are encouraged to come in at least once a week.

We also introduced a ‘work from anywhere’ policy, meaning employees can ask to work for a period of time from a location of their choice other than their country of residence. This applies to a maximum period of 12 weeks and requires consideration of timezone limitations. 

 

Holidays

B Lab Europe offers employees:

  • 25 flexible paid holidays 
  • 4 fixed paid holidays (We are closed for a week over the December holiday period.) 
  • 5 flexible holidays that can be used according to personal preferences instead of 5 of the yearly public/bank holidays in the Netherlands. This gives people flexibility if they don’t want to take off a particular public holiday. 4 of the yearly public holidays must be taken off (New Year’s Day, Whit Monday, Christmas Day, and the Second Day of Christmas).
  • We also offer other types of leaves such as a moving day, and we have a paid sabbatical benefit as well. With paid sabbaticals, employees have the option to save up to 5 paid holidays a year in a ‘sabbatical bank’ that can be used after a minimum of 3 years. 
  • Employees receive 2 extra days of holidays when using low carbon travel options, to encourage more sustainable travel and to compensate for the additional time required when traveling by land.

 

Health & Well-being

At B Lab Europe, we believe well-being is fundamental to our mental and physical health and happiness. Work shouldn’t be the only priority in our lives and we want to promote a healthy and happy mind. We offer a health & wellbeing monthly allowance which can be used for the following purposes:

  • Gym memberships, exercise classes, exercise apps
  • Counselling & therapy sessions
  • Mindfulness & meditation sessions and apps

 

Giving back

One of B Lab Europe’s objectives is not only to minimize the negative impact on the environment but also to positively impact our society and the planet. The core of our work deals with helping companies take steps in that direction. To ensure that we also have hands-on experience, employees are entitled to 40 hours of work time volunteering hours per calendar year. On Earth Day (April 22nd) for example, we provide a volunteer day where every employee has the option to participate in a volunteering activity organized by B Lab. Apart from this, B Corps are also constantly creating opportunities to volunteer and help our local community.

 

Professional Development

B Lab believes in the continuous training of each team member. To this end, we encourage the pursuit of conferences, courses, training, paid webinars, 1:1 coaching & mentoring sessions, and other opportunities for professional growth.

  • Per calendar year, €1,500 can be used by each B Lab Europe employee to contribute to their professional development related to their role and career.
  • B Lab exchange – as a means of promoting connections between different B Lab country partners and giving employees a chance to broaden their views. This allows a B Lab employee to spend one week at the office of one of our European country partners. 

 

Contributions

Acknowledging that employees carry a lot of monthly expenses, B Lab Europe offers financial support by providing the following monthly contributions:

  • €40 to put towards private health insurance cost
  • Up to €20 to put towards mobile phone bills
  • Up to €20 to put towards the cost of commuting to the office – we encourage sustainable travel only so public transport or bike commuting
  • A working from home allowance to help contribute to home bills such as electricity, internet, coffee supply, etc.

 

.  .  .

 

In a nutshell – our workers are our most important asset. Therefore, we at B Lab Europe are proud of our newly implemented benefits offering created by our employees, for our employees, and we are curious to see how these benefits will develop as the working environment develops. Following the principles of the B Corp movement to benefit people and the planet, we are committed to making sure our employees feel valued and supported in the best way possible.