Q&A: Compensation in another nation

A global leader in the $48-billion employee rewards and recognition industry, Achievers knows a little something about bestowing benefits. Founder and CEO Razor Suleman discusses Achievers’ compensation plans for its U.S. employees.

What was most challenging about opening offices in the U.S.?
Medical costs are insanely expensive. It’s about 200 times more expensive per employee [than in Canada].

Why was it so important to offer a similar compensation package for employees in both countries?
First, we believe in offering a consistent employee experience. Second, we believe it’s a requirement—benefits are a cost of doing business. We want employees to take care of their health. If you take care of employees, you’re going to take care of the business. In approximately six more months, our U.S. business is going to be bigger than our Canadian business. So, to some extent, we can justify the investment.

Have you had to make any changes to control costs?
Originally, U.S. employees could put their dependent on the plan at no additional cost. But a company pays more than double the premium costs to have a dependent added to a plan. It was just unsustainable. Now there is a minimal charge to put a spouse or child on the plan. We make [employees] pay part of it to get them to think about their coverage.

What’s been the reaction from American employees?
People are surprised and shocked at what we offer because it’s very generous.

What other perks do you offer?
In all locations, Achievers provides free breakfast daily, and in the Toronto and San Francisco offices, free hot lunches are regularly made available. The HR department offers yearly education sessions on the benefits plan, the share offering and the retirement plans, as well as the recognition program.

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Leigh Doyle is a freelance writer in Toronto.