If there’s ever been a time period that’s shown why employees need flexible work arrangements, paid time off or special accommodations, it’s now, said Jessica Podgajny, founder of brand-new people ops tech startup Lluna.
Lluna — a RealLIST Startups 2021 runner up — is an employee engagement and retention platform that allows companies to offer their employees benefits that they can shape to their lifestyle. For example, take schedules: The employers can offer options like working 40 hours on a flexible schedule Monday through Friday, or employees could choose to work four 10-hour days instead.
The platform offers a centralized place for employees and their managers to review and agree upon those benefits and arrangements, and allows for updates as lives change.
“Other than salary, which you might be able to negotiate, you usually get this standard list of benefits that isn’t personalized at all,” Podgajny said of starting a new job. “Over time, I know what I have wanted from an employer has changed.”
Podgajny, a longtime people ops pro and company culture consultant, conceptualized Lluna before the COVID-19 pandemic. But the global crisis has shown just how integral an employee’s ability to personalize their work life is. The platform is shaped in part by her own experience: As a mom to three kids, she’s watched her priorities shift from having ample PTO in her early 20s for travel and vacations, to having a flexible work schedule as a parent.
Thus, Lluna — named after the phases of the moon that reflect the different phases of life — offers companies the ability to offer as many or as few benefits as they choose. The categories include PTO, health and wellness, equity, professional development, cash compensation and family benefits. Within those benefits are a handful of flexibility and personalization options.
Podgajny and technical cofounder Aaron Kamholtz, who has a background in people analytics, launched the platform in late December after working for months on the concept, and are currently taking on a handful of customers. While the platform can work for companies in a variety of of sizes, they’re piloting it with firms in the 50 to 500 employee range right now. More important than the size of a company, Podgajny said, is that it has a people-first mentality, and is looking to improve the lives of their employees through these benefits.
“I just had this moment where I realized we can personalize anything in the world today,” she said. “We can even personalize medicine, and this arrangement with your job isn’t at all personalized, and it should be.”
The pair are currently working remotely — Podgajny from her home in Wayne, and Kamholtz from his, in Boston — and plan to bulk up their team with software engineers, customer success and sales pros to grow the company in the coming months. While Podgajny is hoping for some Philly-area talent, it will only be natural for those joining the team to do so in a customizable, personalized fashion, she said.
When companies are able to start considering what a return to the office might look like in the coming months, Lluna’s capabilities can handle the different options that will likely become available to employees, too, Podgajny said. The platform offers a more official way to track these one-off conversations that usually happen between employees and their managers. And as being more in control of one’s work life becomes more important to potential employees, the founder added that she hopes that companies will also look to Lluna as an employee attraction and retention tool.
“The whole idea is that it’s work designed for life,” she said. “And we think the companies that will utilize us will feel that way, too.”-30-