“Last month, one of my employees invoiced the company $300, plus tax, for French lessons. Another one billed us for a $190 real estate course. And then there was the surprise bill for $82 worth of pottery making classes. I signed off on each expense with a smile on my face,” says Caren Maio the CEO of Nestio a startup disrupting the real estate industry who has recently has raised $8 million during a Series A round.
Maio has devised an ingenious way of investing in her employees and at the same time treating them as responsible adults. Rather than dictating the developmental courses they attend employees are allowed to invoice the company up to $1000 per year to do (almost) whatever they want, as long as it involves personal development. “These employees are taking advantage of an allowance we’re offering Nestio staff: $1,000 a year to do (almost) whatever they want outside of the office to develop their own skills or pursue their passions,” she explains.
This is clever stuff because the millennial generation puts personal learning and development at the top of the list of benefits they seek from employers, just behind flexible working hours and cash bonuses. There are no strings attached other than employees spend the money on investing in something that leads to personal improvement.
With MOOCs and nanodegree programmes gaining increased popularity amongst Millennials who recognise the importance of lifelong learning, Nestio’s CEO has identified an important ingredient in gaining employee happiness, engagement and loyalty.