People always spoke of this financial responsibility they had in the company in a very positive way. And that's what we tried to understand: how was it possible for something that was proportionally so cheap to have such a positive impact on people?
The story between Coverflex and Velocidi could be summed up in a few words: when Paulo Cunha realised that the solution he was trying to implement already existed, he surrendered. Except he didn’t. The story goes far beyond that. Velocidi was founded in 2011 in the US and entered Portugal in 2018, following the purchase of the Portuguese tech company ShiftForward. But this acquisition was just one of the major factors in the process of transforming the business of the company - that was born in New York - that year. “Velocidi worked in the reporting area but, even during 2018, and after the acquisition of the tech company ShiftForward, we came across a situation in which the company's core business, very focused on a huge customer that disappeared, was not working at a global level,” says Paulo Cunha, the company's CEO, in a conversation with Coverflex.
The challenge at the time was facing a “brutal drop” in both turnover and the company's own financing: in a few months, Velocidi reached a crossroad that made the situation “unsustainable”.
“At the end of 2018 we sat down with our investors to understand what we were going to do, and we realised there was a business opportunity: the entry of a new product - that ShiftForward had been developing - in the market was the future and a gigantic opportunity”, recalls Paulo Cunha. From that meeting came the decision to press the reset button and go to the market once more as a startup. Again.
Soon after the changes, Paulo Cunha began to think of a way to adapt the benefits to the specific needs of each Velocidi employee. The company's culture in Portugal remained faithful to that of ShiftForward: entrepreneurial and very focused on properly compensating people for the work they do because, unlike a more stable and traditional business, “a startup is a growing business and the value that the company has is greatly multiplied compared to the work that people do”. “In a traditional business this wouldn’t be feasible; in this one it is”, points out Paulo. Therefore, since day 1, the idea of “compensation” has always taken this added value into account, as a matter of justice and, of course, as a way of attracting and retaining talent.
It was from this reflection that the first challenge emerged: the absence of financial instruments that make this kind of compensation easy and fair.
“It started with what was the most obvious in the US: stock options. In Portugal they are taxed as dependent work - with IRS, with everything -, which in my opinion is not right. Nor everything that comes around it.”
The first solution that Paulo Cunha started working on was a common annual budget that employees could take advantage of, put together on an Excel sheet: buying a set of headphones, small electronic devices or a working table that brought greater comfort was as close or far as each one’s will, as long as the money was spent on behalf of the company and the well-being of employees. The foundation? Confidence. “I wouldn't recruit a certain person if I thought they were going to spend the money in the wrong way”, he points out.
The idea was so well accepted and so praised that, at one point, the team decided, together, to invest in a giant aquarium for the office. “People always spoke of this financial responsibility they had in the company in a very positive way. And that's what we tried to understand: how was it possible for something that was proportionally so cheap to have such a positive impact on people?”.
“If the person you're hiring will make you happy, a person who makes the team happy is an important asset because it is the only one that is not taxed, the only one that we can use without bureaucracy”, jokes Paulo Cunha. It was precisely from a reflection on the importance of people in organisations and on the adequacy of flexible remuneration to their needs that, one day, in a conversation with Nuno Pinto, co-founder and CBO of Coverflex, the CEO of Velocidi realised that the HR tech solution met the company’s needs.
To the process that Paulo was setting up for 16 employees, in Excel, Coverflex added new flexible benefit options and a budget that each employee can manage independently, according to their current needs. And, of course, less management work. “It was exactly what I needed because it added a lot to what I would be able to do both manually and personally,” he explains. The matter of flexible benefits, he argues, must be based on a decision that implies preferring some over others. That's why Coverflex Wallet works with Velocidi. “I like this angle: each person has a ceiling, they choose where they want to spend it, but 'it costs a little', because if you choose to have one thing you won't have something else”, he describes.
"Coverflex was introduced to us shortly after we had internally discussed the possibility of fiscally optimising the team's compensation. Although we considered improving the meal allowance, the additional possibilities that Coverflex presented allowed us to do more and better", says Tiago Boldt Sousa, Product Lead at Velocidi.
Using this solution since November 2020, Coverflex has "come to facilitate the introduction of flexible benefits that we otherwise wouldn't have the human resources to implement", he says. "It allows us to be more competitive in what we offer the team, in a fiscally-efficient way and without additional management effort".
This story was first published on the Coverflex blog in June 2021.
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