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Interview

Inside InsureTech startup YuLife’s laser focus on employee wellbeing

YuLife applies the wellbeing focus of its insurance products to its people.

Allie Nawrat

Leader

YuLife wellbeing
Credit: LIAV BILYA via Twenty20.

YuLife offers a range of wellbeing benefits, including leave for miscarriages and a monthly personal wellbeing allowance. Unleash Your People

London-based YuLife has been disrupting the life insurance industry since it launched 2016.

The company aims to move the needle from focusing on death and illness, which is very morbid, to celebrating life and rewarding living with the help of technology.

The goal is to help people live their best lives, primarily by prioritizing their financial, physical, and mental wellbeing both in and out the workplace.

“The caveat to that is to have life insurance should things be unfortunate and fall apart,” says YuLife’s head of people Cali Gold.

YuLife’s head of people Cali Gold.

YuLife’s products reward employees for looking after themselves.

For instance, YuLife provides employers with access to digital fitness app Fiit’s premium subscription, and employees who work out with Fiit will receive credits called YuCoin.

YuCoin can then be redeemed and spent at various YuLife partner vendors, like Amazon, Bloom & Wild, Calm, and Garmin — or donated to selected charities.

In working with partners, Gold explains that YuLife focuses on “aligning [itself] with other businesses that are on the same page and will help us fulfill our mission”.

Another element of YuLife’s tech platform is a gamified dashboard that enables teams and colleagues to compete with one another about how many steps they have done, for example.

YuLife also offers an employee assistance program benefit that gives staff access to 24/7 virtual GP service, mental health experts legal professionals, career coaching, financial advisers, and bereavement counselling.

Employee wellbeing is an HR priority

The company’s mission around wellbeing and living your best life doesn’t just apply to the products it sells, but also to its own workplace and employees.

This is ultimately because “we want to attract people who believe in our products, and you can only attract the right people if you’re embracing internally what you offer externally”, notes Gold.

This concept feeds into YuLife’s value system, which Gold notes is “being open, present and positive”, as well as “being the world you want to see”.

In addition to giving its employees access to the YuLife app and all of wellbeing partnerships that come with that, new starters get “a set of 10 books delivered to them. These books…really underpin the ethos, culture, and value system of YuLife”, explains Gold.

She adds that every staff member also gets a £20 wellbeing budget every month “that they can use towards anything that makes them feel good”.

YuLife also pays for professional coaching for everyone twice a month. This is a new feature that came out of the pandemic, because, Gold explains, “we really wanted to support people as much as possible”.

The company also offers its people 25 days holiday, as well as equity in the business to make them feel part of the long-term journey.

YuLife’s miscarriage and family leave policies  

YuLife recently dialed up its focus on its people and their wellbeing by updating its family leave policies.

New Zealand made history in March by implementing a country-wide three day bereavement leave for mothers and their partners who have experienced pregnancy loss, including miscarriages and stillbirths.

This announcement “triggered something in me and I thought, hang on a minute, this is something that we should be offering”.

Gold was clear this shouldn’t be gendered. Gold adds: “All partners who are involved in a miscarriage will suffer, whether it is emotional or physical trauma.”

She wanted YuLife to lead the way by implementing a bereavement leave policy that sends a clear message: it’s okay to talk about pregnancy loss at work and get the support you need.

Therefore, the company decided to offer five days of paid leave. This is two more than what New Zealand is enforcing, but Gold explains she was conflicted about how much to offer.

“In principle five days is nothing,” she notes. “But it is really hard to put a time frame on someone’s emotional and physical needs because it is so subjective and relative.”

YuLife considered offering two or three weeks off, but, Gold explains, “I also thought about people who might feel they don’t want to take that amount of time off. They may feel insecure and think something is wrong if they don’t take the full amount offered.”

To work around this, YuLife’s employees who need more than five days can apply for more wellbeing leave if needed.

The main aim of the policy was to create space to talk about these issues and “remove any kid of stigma”.

At the same time, YuLife decided to update its parental leave policy. As a result, anyone with a child under five can take up to 16 weeks of paid leave either in a chunk or spread over a year.

Gold states: “We are so proud of that; it is so generous and it is a complete anomaly to see that kind of policy in a business that is still growing a small.”

While Gold admits the logistics around taking the leave may be hard, she is very clear that employees are actively encouraged and enabled to take this leave – “it is not just lip service”.

“I hope this sends the right message to other businesses when they think about rolling out benefits and policies for employees”, notes Gold.

Gold says the company will keep an eye on these policies over the next six to 12 months to see if anything needs tweaking.

The future of work at YuLife

Remote and flexible working was not new to YuLife when the pandemic hit; people would work from home one or two days a week and business hours were pretty agile as “there was no hard stop to the working day”, according to Gold. This was another perk of working at YuLife in Gold’s eyes.

With the shift to full time remote working, “we actually saw how productive people were working from home”, particularly in terms of collaboration and communication with the help of technology like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

“Meetings were still productive, outcomes and goals were set very clearly,” notes Gold.

In addition, remote working has allowed YuLife “to tap into a far more diverse range of people as it allows us to hire from pretty much anywhere in the world”, according to Gold. To do this compliantly, YuLife has started working with HR tech platform Deel, and as a result, the company has now made 20 global hires.

YuLife will embrace hybrid working, but Gold acknowledges this needs to be clearly defined “otherwise communication gets lost and it can be difficult for peopple to stay connected and have meaningful relationships”.

Gold has put together frameworks and principles – which she emphasizes are not rules – that help people understand what the model looks like and what is expected of them.

“We have articulated that the office is a collaboration hub, but there is also hot desking if people want to go to the office,” explains Gold.

At the end of the day, YuLife is a remote working business; the office will never become a space where people sit next to each other day in day out. Instead, the company wants people to decide about when they want to use the office.

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