From the time we started Lemonly back in 2011, I made it a goal to build a company that people could be proud to be a part of. I wanted Lemonly to be known for two things:
- Amazing visual storytelling
- A company culture and work environment where people come first
I wanted Lemonly to be an example of a special company, especially in Sioux Falls, where there are fewer “new age,” Silicon Valley-type companies. I wanted to inspire other local entrepreneurs and business owners to build people-first companies.
In the decade since, we’ve come a long way—not only in building our culture, but also in sharing our processes and policies publicly. A few highlights:
- In 2017, we launched the Company Culture Survey and shared insights from more than 400 employees about what they want from their workplaces.
- In 2019, we created an ebook and blog series to share what we’ve learned about internal communication.
- In 2020, we launched an online course to help organizations build great company culture based on our frameworks and lessons learned from nearly ten years in business.
Years ago I was inspired by Basecamp and a post by co-founder Jason Fried detailing the company’s list of benefits publicly. So, since 2017, we’ve made Lemonly’s benefits public, too.
Each year, we update the list with additions and changes to Lemonly’s benefits, because we know we can’t just stay put. Culture is always changing and never complete, so we keep building based on where the company’s at and the needs of our team.
Lemonly’s Employee Benefits (Updated 2021)
*Any benefit with an asterisk means it has been updated or added in 2021. A few of our benefits have changed after we joined forces with Click Rain earlier this year.
People at Lemonly can work from wherever they want. We currently have fully remote employees in Vancouver (BC), New York City, and right here in Sioux Falls. In the past, we’ve had remote team members in Florida, Idaho, and as far away as Serbia.
This benefit isn’t just for full-time remote team members, either. HQ-based Lemonheads can work from home, their favorite coffee shop, or even travel for a workation — wherever they get their work done.
Top 25% salaries
Most job postings advertise a “competitive salary”—we used to do it, too—but no one ever knows what that means. We’re always trying to get smarter about salary and keeping an eye on what is appropriate in our marketplace. So far we’ve found that our salaries fall in the upper 25% for our market based on skills and experience. We try to measure our salaries off of the local market, so Sioux Falls folks in Sioux Falls and Vancouver folks in Vancouver, etc.
*Vacations and paid holidays
Every Lemonhead starts with 15 days of PTO per year for their first two years at the company, then increases to 18 days in their third year, 20 days in their fourth and fifth years, then one additional day for every year beyond five years (with a cap at 25 days in their tenth year).
We also observe 8 national holidays (we have a U.S. calendar for our U.S.-based folks and a Canadian calendar for our Vancouver friends). Plus, every Lemonhead gets a bonus day of Birthday PTO to take their special day off (or another day within the same week).
Bereavement leave ranges from one to five days depending on your relationship to the deceased (5 days for immediate family, 2 days for a grandparent, 1 day for others). Folks can always supplement with additional PTO if needed.
*VTO (Volunteer Time Off)
Before this year, Lemonly offered four hours per year of volunteer time off (VTO) to all employees. Now, in alignment with our sister company, Click Rain, each employee gets up to two hours of VTO per month to volunteer, serve, or help out a cause of their choice (must be a 501(c)3 organization).
We also encourage Lemonheads to get involved in the community. Folks who serve on boards for non-profits or professional associations can do it on company time. No need to flex time or take PTO for those commitments, and that time doesn’t count against their available PTO or VTO.
We started doing Summer Hours back in 2013. The concept is simple: From Memorial Day through Labor Day, we shut down the office two hours early on Fridays. Folks work a 38-hour week instead of 40 and can come in late or leave early on Fridays (most people leave early). Summer Hours serve two purposes:
- It gives folks something to look forward to. When you’re grinding it out in March and April, you can be excited knowing Summer Hours are just around the corner.
- It gets folks outside. We live in South Dakota and have long, bitterly cold winters. The last thing we want to do during our summer months is be stuck in an office. With Summer Hours, people can hit the road, head to the lake, or do whatever they want to kick off their weekend a little earlier.
And guess what? We see no loss in productivity during Summer Hours.
*Health, dental, and vision insurance
Lemonly offers a Wellmark health insurance plan and will pay 40–50% toward each employee’s health insurance depending on their chosen plan (Single and Family options available).
We also offer dental and vision coverage through a supplemental Principal Insurance plan and accidental, heart health, and cancer policies offered by Aflac, but these costs are incurred by the employee.
Like our sister company, Click Rain, Lemonly offers reimbursement of half the monthly cost of a gym membership, workout app subscription, or fitness program (up to $35/month).
*Employee Assistance Program
Lemonly offers an EAP through Avera for assistance with mental and emotional health, addiction, substance abuse, and family/parenting concerns. Lemonheads and any family member can use up to five visits for every instance.
*401k retirement plan match
Lemonly matches each Lemonhead’s contributions to their 401k 100% dollar for dollar up to 3% of the employee’s salary. Above 3%, Lemonly matches 50% of contributions up to 5% of the employee’s salary.
Paid parental leave
Lemonly offers six weeks of paid parental leave for new moms and three weeks of paid leave for new dads. Some of our parents also work four-day weeks or have flexible schedules to allow them more time at home.
5-year Adventure Bonus
In 2017, our five-and-a-half-year-old company had our first employee reach five years of service. We highly value loyalty, and in accordance with our core value of Adventure, we decided to give each employee who reaches their five-year Lemonversary $2,500 to travel internationally with a guest.
Continuing education allowance
If folks want to take an online course, buy a book for the Lemonly library, or attend a conference, they just have to ask! We want our employees to continue to learn and grow. We also have a Skillshare membership for employees to use as they wish and learn whatever they’d like.
Lemonly will cover an all-expenses-paid trip for our annual company retreat. We fly the remote employees in and head to a lake, cabin, or city away from Sioux Falls to share ideas on how to improve the company and to get to know our coworkers outside of the office even better.
100% coverage of hardware & software
Lemonly will cover the total cost for hardware, software, or subscriptions team members need to do their jobs. Get the right tools, do the best work.
We set company goals for each trimester that are shared with the team and measured weekly. If we beat those goals, Lemonly gives bonus vacation days to the whole team.
If, at the end of the year, the company beats our annual revenue and profitability goals, Lemonly shares every dollar above the goal 50/50—half to reinvest in the company and half to team members based on how long each employee has been at Lemonly. In past years, we’ve paid out profit sharing bonuses as cash or as 401k contributions depending on the team’s preference.
Annual 3/2/1 charity donation
At the end of the year, we set aside $6,000 to be donated to local charities. Each employee nominates a charity of their choice. The team votes for their favorite three, and based on those votes, we make donations of $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000 to the top three.
When employees donate money to a qualified charity, Lemonly will also make a matching gift to that charity on their behalf. Charities must be a registered 501c3.
Every other month, we bring in a local presenter, feature a Lemonly team member with an expertise, or visit a location to learn about a topic relevant to our team—ranging from mortgages and investing to making sushi and yoga basics. Lemonly provides lunch and the time to learn. So far, so good.
Office snacks and beverages
Over the past couple years, we’ve curated our list of office goodies more closely and are continually adding to it. We keep the office stocked with a variety of healthy snacks, seltzers, local coffee, local beer, and other assorted goodies.
Lemonly holiday gift
Along with our company holiday party, we try to give employees exciting gifts for the holiday season. For example, in a recent year, we gave each employee $80 and 90 minutes to go out and spend it on themselves. Some shopped online, some hit the streets in downtown Sioux Falls, and the Vancouver crew even got together at a mall in their area. We reconvened for a great round of show-and-tell.
Wellness Task Force
A big focus for our company in 2018 was wellness, so the WTF (Wellness Task Force) was born. We believe wellness is all-encompassing, including mental, physical, spiritual, financial, and social wellness. The WTF comprises a handful of Lemonheads who get together to discuss team needs, plan company programs and wellness challenges, and hold folks accountable.
In the past few years, we’ve offered a Headspace subscription for meditation, hosted office yoga, made monthly breakfasts in the office, hosted financial education workshops, ran a team 5k, brought in a masseuse, held a screen time challenge, and more. Each year new Lemonheads join the WTF and the ideas are always evolving.
Where do you start?
Building company culture and HR policies is a puzzle that continues to evolve and change. We continually add and change pieces of our policies as our team grows not only in size but also in age. We want to offer compensation packages and benefits that are most relevant and needed by our team.
Don’t worry if you can’t offer everything you want to right away. Many of these benefits we didn’t have a few years ago—or maybe they looked much different. Each year, we reassess the team’s wants and needs and try to add to our benefits and compensation package. The important thing is to just get started and build that company culture piece by piece.
If you have questions about any of these policies, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d also love to hear ideas of new benefits or perks we should add!