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'Unlimited holidays', inner-work days and free lunches: The perks Prince Harry's new company offers its staff

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·10-min read

Watch: Prince Harry began BetterUp job in January

Prince Harry has landed his first office job, but it's not one many would recognise. 

The royal is working for BetterUp, a Silicon Valley firm which provides coaching and mental health support to boost people in their jobs. 

Harry is the firm's first chief impact officer, a role that is likely to see him work on strategy for the company's projects.

Harry named four goals in his role, saying he wants to drive advocacy and awareness for mental fitness, guide the company's social mission and impact, influence the vision of the firm's platform, community, and member experience and expand its community of "thought leadership, coaches, customers, and members".

The details of Harry's contract, including how many days a week he works and what he gets paid, have not been disclosed. 

But BetterUp's website shows what they offer some of their employees, and what it's like working at the company.

Yahoo UK takes a look at BetterUp. 

The benefits

BetterUp offers a 'take what you need' holiday plan. In theory, this means employees can take as much holiday as they want to, as long as they get their job done. 

In practice, the company suggests that employees have three weeks a year, not including 13 public holidays.

Writing for The Muse, Joshua Reeves, who operates the policy at ZenPayroll, explained: "We want our employees to think like owners and consider what’s best for both themselves and the company. Letting them figure out their own vacation time shows that we trust and respect them, which in turn strengthens their commitment to the company."

Netflix, which Harry and Meghan also have a contract with, reportedly has the same policy for its salaried employees.

As well as these holiday perks, employees get five days per year to volunteer - perhaps something Harry can coordinate with Archewell, if he qualifies for that perk.

And there's four 'innerwork' days a year - "to improve the quality of your creative outputs".

It's to be expected, but those who work for BetterUp get their own BetterUp coach, so they can benefit from the same service they are offering to others.

PRESTON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 23: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Harry visits Myplace at Brockholes Nature Reserve, a project which aims to empower young people by encouraging them to take action in environmental activity to improve areas for wildlife, communities and their own wellbeing on October 23, 2017 in Preston, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Prince Harry at Brockholes Nature Reserve, in October 2017 in Preston. His new company offers hiking trips with the bosses. (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Read more: Royal Family still feeling 'deep sadness' over rift with Harry and Meghan

The service is unlimited, and according to the firm's website, employees also have "access to experts in nutrition, communication, leadership, sleep, diversity, inclusion & belonging, and more".

Employees based in the office get a free lunch twice a week and the pantry is stocked with "healthy snacks, beverages, beer and wine".

As well as lunch with colleagues, Harry might be around to join in a happy hour, as the website explains: "We love game night! Come hang out and relax after work and have drinks with your colleagues. We believe in creating space for everyone to get to know each other, and we optimise for remote visitors."

There's an on-site gym at every one of the BetterUp locations. In San Francisco, where the Duke of Sussex would work, he can join "in-office workouts" four days a week, including yoga and boxing.

Harry can hope he will earn his way onto special trips to spend more time with his bosses too, in one company scheme.

BetterUp adventures include Hiking the Inca Trail with Eddie Medina, one of the founders and the chief operating officer, or El Camino de Santiago with Alexi Robichaux, another founder and the chief executive officer.

There's also Kayaking MN Boundary Waters with Ryan Sonnek, the chief technology officer.

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (C) meets with young people on a visit to the Boxing Charity, Empire Fighting Chance, in Bristol, south west England on February 1, 2019. - Empire Fighting Chance charity aims to fight the impact of deprivation on young peoples lives through boxing. The charity supports children aged 8 to 21 who are failing at school and in danger of drifting into a life of unemployment or even crime, and helps them turn their lives around. (Photo by Tom PILSTON / POOL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read TOM PILSTON/AFP via Getty Images)
Prince Harry with young people on a visit to the Boxing Charity, Empire Fighting Chance in Bristol, in February 2019. The on site gyms help his colleagues keep physically fit at BetterUp. (Tom Pilston/AFP)

BetterUp explains a spot on these trips is earned "after one full year at BetterUp and by collecting BetterUp Coins (BUCs), our very own currency, earned by activities like completing readings and demonstrating our values".

Harry could even bring his dog to work - the company allows pups in the office.

As is the case in many large US firms, medical and dental plans are available. There is also a 401k - the US term for pension plans.

What do his colleagues say?

While most people who review BetterUp say they love working at the company, there's a balance, as some describe it being hard to keep up with all the information they're fed.

One review on Glassdoor explained: "There are so many startups out there, and I really believe that this is a good one to work at. The people are kind, there is no drama, and what is expected of you is made clear.

"Working here can be exhausting. There is a lot to keep up with, and as soon as you think you've got it, ten more things pop up and you're back to square one. There's a lot of doing things outside your role function because the teams are lean and there's no one else to do it. This is typical of startups, so I don't think BetterUp is unique here."

One person who had worked at the company for three years said BetterUp did not "walk the walk", adding there was a terrible work life balance.

The review added: "Leadership suffers from a general Lack of Empathy, making it hard to ask for help when you need it.

"Even though all public messaging is focused on wellbeing, BetterUp does not do a good job of driving this home for its employees."

Watch: CEO excited to welcome Prince Harry to startup

Read more: Duchess of Cambridge says COVID-19 showed 'we need each other more than we had ever realised'

One overall negative review for BetterUp as a workplace said leaders from outside the organisation were a "revolving door" and suggested there was a lack of internal promotion.

Responding, a BetterUp HR representative said: "In 2020 alone, over 30 stellar employees have been promoted and transferred into new roles across the organisation. We have a step-by-step process outlined for our team members who want to explore other teams/roles, and have an internal job board where they can directly apply to openings."

But BetterUp scores 4.5 stars, with 88% of people approving of the CEO.

According to greatplacetowork.com, Harry might feel a little older than most of his colleagues, as 76% of them are millennials. At 36, Harry is at the top end of the millennial age range.

The website reports that people love working there, with 94% of employees saying it's a great place to work. They also record 99% of employees say people are given a lot of responsibility and that they care about each other.

In 2021, it BetterUp came 17th in the Fortune list of best places to work in San Francisco Bay area.

What's the office like?

There are several office locations for BetterUp employees, and many work from home, even before the pandemic forced that to happen.

The office Harry would use if he chose to would be the San Francisco location, and photos online show what most people would imagine a tech startup to look like.

Sofas and armchairs surround a library, while bar stools at the kitchen give a place to sit while eating a free lunch or grabbing a complementary snack.

This image shows the building at 1200 Folsom St. in San Francsico on March 23, 2021, hosting the headquarters of the start-up BetterUP closed during the pandemic as staff work remotely. - Britain's Prince Harry on March 23 became the first chief
The headquarters of the start-up BetterUp, currently closed during the pandemic as staff work remotely. (Susana Mendoza/AFP)

Read more: The Queen has 'built tremendous arm muscles' from constantly waving at royal fans

One photo of a group of employees smiling and waving their hands is titled 'new hire onboard'.

Staff clearly take being a unicorn company seriously, dressing up in unicorn onesies for a winter retreat at Tahoe City.

A unicorn is a privately held startup company with a value of $1bn or more. 

How did Harry get this job so quickly?

After his role was announced, there was some speculation as to how Harry would be eligible to work in the US, and what type of visa he may have secured for his new job.

Typically a green card can take up to two years, with a usual process time of a year to a year and a half, but there is another route he could have taken.

Although it's not known what type of visa Harry is on or who he worked with to apply for it, according to Christi Jackson, Attorney and Head of the US Practice for Laura Devine Immigration, Harry could have applied for an O1 visa, which would qualify him to work as someone of "extraordinary" ability.

The O1 requirements include ticking three boxes of achievements, including things like receiving a recognised prize or award, having material published about you, working as a judge of others' work, or working in a critical role.

Jackson said it would not have been hard for the prince to satisfy the criteria, and he would not have had to wait for a job offer before applying, as he could have had an agent who sponsored his application.

She also said the wording of the application would have been critical to making sure he can do a variety of work.

NORCROSS, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23:  Prince Harry answers calls from veterans in the call centre during his visit to Veterans UK to mark the 25th anniversary of the Veterans UK Helpline Service on October 23, 2017 in Norcross, England.  (Photo by Andy Stenning - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Prince Harry answering calls from veterans in a call centre at Veterans UK in October 2017 in Norcross, England. The prince will attend company all-hands events. (Andy Stenning - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Jackson told Yahoo News UK: "Usually you would tailor it for what they are going to do, [for example] if you do it for an actor, you can't then have them direct, because they are there as an extraordinary actor, if he has one for charity or business, it would be hard to stretch it to podcasts and a TV interview.

"However what they could have done is a joint O1. For example if I was doing Tom Hardy's O1, he is also a director and a producer, so I would do an O1 for all of those, or whatever is appropriate. They could have done one O1 for all of those."

She added: "The O1 is pretty quick, application in, in two weeks if it is approved you could be at your interview. Because he is married to an American he is not subject to travel bans while he is applying, he could have applied in the US, or in Canada, or in the UK, it's hard to know."

While there are some issues in the pandemic with securing interviews at embassies, Jackson suggested it was less likely to be a problem facing the prince.

She said: "Availability of interviews may have been a challenge, but this does not apply to everyone.

"You are just going to bump him up. When I'm doing an application for someone who is in the top 10 in Netflix, they usually get in."

Crucially, Harry could not do any work until the visa had come in, which means he has likely had it for some time, because he and Meghan recorded an episode of their podcast in time for release over Christmas. 

If Harry has an O1 he will need to reapply every three years, whereas if he has applied for a family green card he can rest easy for 10 years before he needs to reapply, as long as they made the application after he had been married to Meghan, an American citizen, for more than two years.

Yahoo UK has contacted BetterUp.