Launched in November 2016, Fat Llama is an insurance-backed marketplace for lending and borrowing belongings. The organisation employs 45 staff members in London and New York who benefit from some unusual but highly prized employee benefits, including weekly communal meals and a monthly allowance.
Chaz Englander, chief executive officer at Fat Llama, explains: “[In October 2018,] we set up communal chef-cooked meals, served every Tuesday and Thursday, in direct response to feedback from employee satisfaction surveys. A lot of people wanted to increase cross-team interaction, something we’d naturally lost a little in the process of growing from a team of 15 to 45 this year.”
The communal meals provide a valuable opportunity for team members to get to know each other better and build positive relationships, while conversations between those involved in different areas of a business can help generate fresh ideas.
The idea for the communal meals came from fortnightly pulse surveys, conducted over the summer of 2018. This was the first time the organisation had gathered feedback from its staff in this way, and is something it aims to develop further moving forwards.
The monthly allowance, on the other hand, was introduced in July 2018. This enables employees to borrow items on the Fat Llama platform. “Pretty much everyone who works at Fat Llama lends something they own on [the website],” Englander says. “But, being a marketplace, it was important [that employees were regularly] borrowing stuff, too. Everyone who works at Fat Llama gets £100 or $100 credit at the start of every month to rent anything they like.”
Employees use their monthly allowances to rent a wide range of items, from DJ decks and speakers, to road bikes and drones. “First of all, it’s fun, but it also keeps everyone tuned in [to] our user experience,” adds Englander. “This, combined with effective user feedback, will give us the best chance of building a product that people really love.”
Englander insists that these are perks that other employers could adapt and replicate as a low-cost benefit offering to their own staff.
“Even if chef-cooked meals aren’t a viable option, there are huge benefits in having regular communal meal times. In terms of the monthly allowance, ‘dogfooding’ [where an organisation uses its own product] is a must, particularly for early-stage tech organisations.”