Piotr Lipa is an experienced people director in the financial sector with knowledge in management, banking, insurance, and HR consulting. He is an expert in talent and performance management, a licensed attorney (labor law advocate with a PhD), and a licensed psychologist. He is a member of the Board and is responsible for the compliance, brand, and people functions.

The pandemic awakened many organizations to an urgent need for employee benefits like subsidized backup care, new parent support, and other cultural changes for mental health support across the organization. As the HR Director of UNIQA Polska, what are some of the key developments in the employee benefits space that leaders can adopt to improve employee satisfaction?

Each company has a diverse group of employees, each having slightly different needs. We also react differently in situations such as a pandemic crisis and expect different support. That is why it is crucial for the employees themselves to decide what specific benefit they will use. Therefore, I am in favour of the broadest possible choice made by employees. It often turns out that our employees do not need fancy benefits and remain faithful to traditional choices. Therefore, cafeteria systems, where the employee himself decides, according to his preferences, work best. In my opinion, such a solution allows to achieve the highest possible level of employee satisfaction. I am also deeply convinced that benefits - especially sophisticated ones—should always be the icing on the cake, introduced when the basic working conditions, the so-called hygiene factors are cared for at the right level. I can clearly see that employees appreciate a competitive salary, a good working atmosphere, development opportunities, and a sense of meaning at work and flexibility much more than a basket of fancy benefits.

What according to you are some of the key strategies in offering employee benefits in a way that can promote a healthy work culture and drive workplace productivity?

I definitely recommend involving people in making decisions about the types of benefits that will be available in the company, so that they have a real impact on the available package. The participation of the employer in the financing of benefits is also important, which makes them more accessible to a wider population of employees.

"We should give the floor to employees and ask them before making decisions. People know better than we do and will help us decide, while feeling that their voice on an important issue matters to us."

What are some of the new innovations in the employee benefits landscape that can play a crucial role in retaining high-performing employees?  

The offer includes many interesting proposals - they are related either to ensuring the safety of employees (e.g. legal), or to facilitations resulting from a change in the working models (e.g. home delivery), or the payment of remuneration in the pre-paid system. However, I assume that the most important will be all the innovations that will support the broadly understood health of employees and their relatives (including mental health). Personally, as an employee of the insurance sector, I also hope to popularize the group insurance offer for employees, because there is still a lot to be done in this field. On the other hand, insurers' offers are becoming more and more interesting.

Can you describe some of the experiences based on your former roles in other organizations that shaped your present outlook towards employee benefits?

Benefits offered by employers are often underestimated by employees who quickly get used to their occurrence and are not aware of the real value of the offer. In one of the previous companies - as part of the annual "compensation statement", we summarized the employees not only the value of the remuneration earned in the year, but also the market value of the benefits. It was an excellent move to show that the value of these benefits seriously made total compensation attractive.

On an ending note, what advice would you like to give fellow CXOs and senior leaders in the human resources sector?

First of all, I would advise that we give the floor to employees and ask them before making decisions. People really know better than we do and will help us decide, while feeling that their voice on an important issue matters to us.