Louise’s lowdown: Cryopreservation enters the benefits mix

At the beginning of May, Richard Craib, founder of artificial intelligence hedge fund Numerai, announced the launch of a new employee benefit on Twitter: whole-body preservation cryonics. The tweet included a link to a job listing for a full stack engineer vacancy at the firm. The job description detailed the available benefit, alongside the assertion that “Numerai cares about its employees beyond their legal deaths”.

The cryopreservation benefit is available through a life insurance scheme and would be carried out by cryonics organisation Alcor, although it should be noted that successfully reversing the cryopreservation process and rehabilitating individuals who have been preserved is dependent upon the development of advanced future technologies.

Craib told International Business Times UK that, as a next-generation hedge fund that works in areas such as artificial intelligence and cryptocurrencies, he believed individuals who are interested in the long-term vision of Numerai as an organisation would also be interested in cryonics. While the opportunity to take part in such an experimental procedure will not appeal to everyone, recruiting and retaining staff that can help an organisation achieve its long-term aims is at the top of the agenda for many employers, and offering benefits that are valued by current and potential employees can contribute to this.

According to the Employee Benefits/Staffcare Benefits research 2017, published in May 2017, 82% of employer respondents offer benefits because they are an effective retention tool and 81% do so for recruitment purposes. Meanwhile, 43% of respondents cite the alignment of benefits and business strategy as one of the key issues currently shaping their approach to benefits, and 44% plan to adapt to future challenges by more closely aligning their reward and business strategy. This might include building a benefits package that supports and promotes an organisation’s core values, whether that be the drive to develop forward-thinking technologies or otherwise.

But the need to integrate emerging and disruptive technologies into reward and benefit strategies is not necessarily a future concept. In 2016, for example, German technology publication T3N trialed a salary and benefit payment scheme that used the cryptocurrency bitcoin.

How long will it be before the concept of cryptocurrency-based compensation moves beyond associations with the technology industry and into the mainstream?