When N2 Publishing (N2) began searching for new office space in Wilmington, North Carolina, they took an unusual approach. They first polled their local team members to find out where everyone lived. They then looked for a location that was within one mile of the median of everyone’s address. Although that placed the company in a more expensive area, team members had voiced the opinion that having a short commute was important to them, so Duane Hixon and Earl Seals, the company’s founders, listened.
N2, which has 262 employees, creates more than 900 customized monthly magazines for communities around the country. The popularity of their publications is soaring; the company has experienced 220 percent growth in the last three years and added nearly 100 team members in the last two years.
Seals and Hixon founded N2 with the firm belief that a company can and should support the physical, financial, family, and personal/professional well-being of its team members. This belief in supporting the whole person is what drives the company’s culture and benefits.
“It’s hard to speak about culture and benefits separately – they work in tandem to create the team that we have. We are a people-first company,” says Suzanne Baker, a benefits specialist. “We ask ourselves, ‘What benefits can we add so our team can live more fully, feel loved and cared for, and know that they are supported?’”
Many of N2’s newest team members are starting their own families, and the company has embraced this shift in their demographic in several different ways.
One of the most significant ways is through a partnership with Dockside Pediatrics – a membership-based direct primary care medical clinic in Wilmington that focuses on providing personalized pediatric care. N2 pays Dockside’s monthly enrollment fee for each team member with children. The fee covers all well-child visits, unlimited sick visits, in-home newborn visits for the first two months, and unlimited access to a physician until a child turns 18 years of age. There are no co-pays for routine care.
For John Freshwater, a member of the Talent Acquisition team, and his wife, who had their second child on January 25, 2018, enrollment in Dockside Pediatrics has been incredibly valuable.
“For our first child, I remember going to a doctor’s office for the newborn visits,” says Freshwater. “It was worrisome to pack up a newborn and head into an office with other sick children. With our second child, a physician from Dockside came to our house.”
Physicians from Dockside come to N2 for Lunch and Learns and are available to answer questions or concerns 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “My wife texts the physicians as often as she needs to and having that outlet has been very beneficial,” says Freshwater.
Freshwater also takes advantage of another relatively new benefit, the Parent Support Group.
“I can bring up any topic that might be stressing me out as a parent,” says Freshwater. “It’s a concerted effort on behalf of a bunch of people who have this feeling that maybe we don’t really have it all together, so we try to give and receive as much information and encouragement from one another as we can.”
Helen Walsh, product manager on the Technology team, started the Parent Support Group soon after having her second child. N2 was a younger company at the time and there weren’t many other parents. She had helped the HR team create a guide for leadership on how to support team members coming off of maternity leave, and through the process she realized she herself needed more support.
“When I came back to work, the group didn’t exist,” explains Walsh. “My team leader was fantastic, but it was still a difficult time. I was exhausted, worried, and parenting was all-consuming. I didn’t have enough of an outlet to share those concerns, and if you’re struggling in your personal life, it impacts everything.”
Soon after there was an explosion of new moms and dads and everyone started talking, sharing, and commiserating. “We were having all these side conversations and it was apparent that it would be fantastic if we could all just get together,” says Walsh. “We were all having the same kinds of challenges and we realized how helpful it was to talk about it.”
And as for the cost to the company, it is minimal. The group meets once a month before work or during lunch hours. Topics range from temper tantrums to making baby food to the holy grail for all new parents: sleep. The group is comprised of roughly equal numbers of men and women.
Team members can even dial in if they’re remote or traveling. And team members who are expecting a child or planning to have a child in the future are also welcome to join.
“Everyone feels a sense of relief that they have a chance to discuss and share,” says Walsh. “It feels less isolating to hear that others are experiencing the same challenges you are. Once I could discuss the worries of being a new parent, I could put that anxiety aside and focus on my job. It helped me a lot.”
Through the group, Walsh has met people in the company that she didn’t know before and she continues to receive positive feedback from attendees.
“To know that you are not sacrificing your child for your job, or your job for your child, feels great,” she says.
Adds Freshwater, “I’m a parent and a professional, and at N2 I can be both.”
Sample Benefits – N2 Publishing:
N2 offers benefits in four categories: physical, family, financial, and personal and professional wellness.
- Medical insurance;
- Health Savings Account;
- Access to voluntary dental, vision, accident, disability, and life and ADD insurance;
- Dockside Pediatrics Care program;
- Nutrition counseling and health coaching;
- Daily fitness classes and access to one-on-one fitness consultations
- 401K retirement plan, free financial planning services, first-time homebuyer program to supplement a down payment.
- Annual marriage stipend to support counseling or marriage enrichment seminars;
- Two weeks of paid paternity leave and six weeks of paid maternity leave;
- Parent Support Group;
- Dependent Care Reimbursement Account
Personal and Professional Wellness
- Paid time off commensurate with length of employment ranging from one to three weeks;
- Eight paid holidays per year; two weeks off during the holidays;
- Leadership and professional training courses through N2 Academy;
- N2 Volunteer Group;
- Bimonthly Lunch and Learns