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Fireside chat with Dom Pantelides, CEO&Co-founder of PERKS

Who is Dom Pantelides?

Dominik Pantelides is the CEO and Co-founder of PERKS – a digital platform building the people support operating system of the future for businesses, nonprofits, gig companies and universities/colleges. Dominik is a seasoned entrepreneur who has been building technology startups for 20 years.  He built one of the first food delivery platforms in Europe and co-founded one of the pioneers in contextual commerce and universal checkout technology. After two successful exits, he founded PERKS. Dominik is on the pursuit to improve lives through disrupting the norm and leveraging and developing technology advancements to bring better designed solutions to businesses and consumers. 

What’s the story behind PERKS?

Several emerging trends are shaping the future of America’s workforce. For starters, employees expect more than the standard health care plans and paid time off traditionally offered by companies. They’re looking for a positive company culture that supports every facet of their life. The second trend is transitioning to a hybrid work environment – some companies are staying remote while others are taking a blended approach of in-office hours and remote work from home. So how do you marry the two? How do you create and enhance company culture in a hybrid work environment? The answer is PERKS.  

The pandemic accelerated the inevitable and the future of work is changing dramatically. The only way to empower the same type of culture you have in-office environment is to have the same type of system in place in a fully distributed or remote environment. Leaders must find out what their employees want and do their best to deliver in those specific areas. Companies want teams to thrive, be motivated and loyal – all of these things can be achieved when you enhance company culture.

 There are so many parameters that contribute to good company culture – and the only way to do that in a remote or hybrid environment is to have a platform that supports all those aspects. When Dominik realized this did not exist in the market, and all the current models were built for work models of the past, he created PERKS. With PERKS, Dominik and his team utilize the cloud and internet to bring people benefits they previously enjoyed when working in a physical office space. After gathering employee feedback, the company receives a culture report card and PERKS uses the data to customize the Marketplace offerings for each company. PERKS even utilizes AI technology to actively engage employees with an AI concierge and an AI chat box. Through this, companies obtain honest feedback from employees, identify problems, and opportunities to course correct if necessary. 

What was the most difficult part of your experience in the early beginnings?

One of the biggest disruptions for workers was missing the benefits traditionally offered through the buildings their employers rented – a café, a gym and the occasional team activity or happy hour. When the pandemic hit, many companies transitioned to remote work environments, and wondered how to keep employees engaged, connected and happy? 

PERKS provides a platform which gives employees access to similar benefits they enjoyed in an office environment. The Marketplace is curated with featured goods and services pertaining to the following categories:

  • Health & Wellness (products and services around mental resilience) 
  • Food & Beverage (digital cafeteria/kitchen) 
  • Fitness (a variety of sport and fitness options) 
  • Work (from the desk, to office supplies, to software – we cover everything) 
  • Family (child and pet care solutions) 
  • Experiences (team building, retreats etc.) 
  • Personal Development (training programs, certifications, etc.) 
  • Charity (donations, volunteering) 
  • Travel (coming soon: hotels, rental cars, flights, flex living, mobility solutions)

The other obstacle was figuring out how to sustain and develop company culture in a remote environment. PERKS is working to shift the paradigm of how people think of remote and hybrid work environments. One of the company’s biggest challenges has been sharing this new vision for company culture and helping employers realize that in today’s workforce – you have to put the people first. As the only end-to-end solution out there for all things related to employee satisfaction, it’s a mindset shift for companies who traditionally leave the building of culture to their HR team.

What are you most proud of regarding your business?

With companies struggling to fill vacant positions and retain the workforce they already have, we are proud of our efforts to assist HR teams with recruiting and retaining a talented, driven workforce and developing and maintaining positive company culture.

PERKS is a cutting-edge tech platform that supports by HR by:

  • Garnering employee satisfaction and feedback and uses the data to create a customized Marketplace offering deals on services and goods pertaining to health and wellness, entertainment, experiences, childcare, pet care, food and beverages, fitness and more
  • Helping employers treat employees to services and goods, and offer rewards acquired to treat themselves to services and goods that support their lifestyle – whether it’s signing up for a cooking class, ordering fitness equipment, scheduling childcare services or having food brought to their home – PERKS does it all.
  • Redefining the future of people support and what that practically looks like across teams in various industries and their unique needs. PERKS empowers employees to share any and all of the aspects of company culture that matter to them.

What is your vision for the future of PERKS?

“My mission and vision for this company is to create the people support system of choice for the future – with PERKS we offer a plethora of support mechanisms that will influence and empower a lot of people’s lives in a positive way. With the PERKS platform, we provide support to businesses, organizations, nonprofits, and universities. We are working to incentivize employees, volunteers, and students. When the pandemic hit, it became clear there were not any sustainable or relevant people support systems. With PERKS, we are inspiring seismic change in regard to enhancing company culture and supporting people in remote or hybrid environments.”

What’s your advice for the businesses that are trying to adapt to this economic climate?

No doubt, the COVID era significantly changed life for people who transitioned to a remote work environment. As companies and employees continue to adapt to their new working situations, it’s imperative to instill a positive and engaging company culture. Now more than ever, it’s vital that employers listen to feedback from their people to create the systems that best support them.

PERKS is a solution for organizations who want to enforce positive company culture.  Burnout and resilience are top of mind for teams right now.  By ensuring employee work-life balance, this is a direct solution to the most common challenge we are seeing across organizations altogether. Here at PERKS, we’ve lived by the following tips:

  • Practicing time management
  • Balancing personal space
  • Transferring company culture
  • Managing the workforce
  • Avoiding burnout

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.

Thankfully, there are a host of tools and strategies to help businesses streamline remote work. Without a strong digital infrastructure, remote workers will struggle. For the PERKS team, we’ve used tools like Slack, Google Suite, Microsoft SharePoint, and Zoom – these are the backbone of a distributed workplace. Such collaboration tools make it easy for teams including ours to work seamlessly together, and also provide a way to instill a virtual company culture.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

Remote Work Revolution by Tsedal Neeley – hybrid, blended, and remote work are here to stay, and it takes managers and teams working together to do it well!

Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust & Connection No Matter the Distance by Erica Dhawan. New modes of working necessitate innovation, including the way we communicate with one another digitally. 

Leading with Gratitude by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton. Employees are the living, breathing proponents of your company’s culture, and successful leaders will invest in the psychological and physical well-being of their people.

Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.

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