Category: Culture


5 Workplace Wellness Statistics Business Owners Should Know

Workplace wellness is a buzzword in today’s human resources landscape – and for good reason. Employees physical, mental and emotional health matter and can have significant impact on their overall happiness at work and their productivity.

Around the world, employers are opting to prioritize workplace wellness, which has blossomed into a $40 billion industry worldwide. Wellness programs in the workplace spark healthier habits and encourage employees to pursue and prioritize their own personal health and wellness.

If you’re curious about the need for such programs, here’s a look at 5 workplace wellness statistics every business owner should know.  

60% of  Workers Say They’re Burnt out at their Current Job

According to a 2017 Career Builder Survey, more than half of the American workplace reported feeling burnt out at their current job. This statistic is particularly alarming because employees who’re burnt out aren’t operating at their highest levels of productivity, creativity, or happiness on the job.

31% of American Workers Report High or Extremely High Stress Levels at Work

From working long hours, to managing multiple roles, to struggling to find a sustainable work-life balance, nearly 33% of employees in the U.S. are stressed. High levels of stress have been linked to a number of health problems including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and depression.

Only 33% of Employees Say They’re Engaged At Work

Only 33% of employees reported feeling engaged at work, according to a recent Gallup report. That means the majority of the American workforce isn’t engaged, and consequently, isn’t particularly productive at work.

When employees are disengaged at work, they’re more likely to search for other jobs and make major mistakes on the job. Employees can be disengaged for a number of reasons, including burnout, workaholism, alcoholism, depression, chronic stress, or  boredom.

Productivity losses linked to missed work cost U.S. employers $225.8 billion, or $1,685 per employee, each year

The word’s out. When employees miss work or are less than productive at work, employers pay for it. It’s important to create a work environment employees want to come to each day.

Sports teams, game nights, and team dinners are just a few of the ways to keep a team engaged. When they feel connected, they want to stay close. It’s just a matter of making that initial investment.

It’s just a matter of investing your time and emotional energy into the well-being of your team. Wellness extends beyond nutrition and fitness. Wellness programs include anything that positively impacts an employee’s wellbeing. For example, team building, professional development counseling, or paid vacation days are all examples of wellness benefits.

75% of healthcare problems in the U.S are caused by stress-related and preventable chronic diseases

Healthcare costs are generally one of businesses’ largest expenses. When preventable health issues caused by stress create other medical problems for employees, your businesses’ health costs will continue to grow.

Employees want to feel connected, appreciated, and part of the group. When an employer takes the time to provide a thoughtful benefits plan, everyone wins. Your employees will feel better, live healthier, and be happier. As a result, they’ll produce more productive and creative work.

So, what are you waiting for?

If you need help structuring a strategic wellness program, can help. Contact us today!




How to Increase Employee Participation in Wellness Programs

If you’re wondering how to increase employee participation in wellness programs, you’re not alone. Though 85% of large employers introduced wellness programs in 2015, only about 40% of the employees that knew of the programs participated in them.

Many companies are investing heavily in wellness programs, but they aren’t seeing great results. Often times, employees feel disconnected from their company’s wellness programs, leading to low participation rates.

Is your company experiencing a similar trend? Tackle it head on with a comprehensive wellness program with a consistent message. The program should tap into what motivates employees and what is relevant to their needs. Give your wellness program a makeover with these 4 simple tips!

A Consistent Message Across the Organization

To efficiently spread the word about your new wellness program, maintain a consistent message across all departments. When everyone in your company knows about the program’s goals and purposes, you’re more likely to see interest in wellness and preventative care increase.

Developing a Culture of Wellness

A great way to send the message that health is important to your company is to cultivate a culture of wellness within your organization. Make talking about health and participating in wellness activities normal. Casual even. You can do this by incentivizing wellness activities and making them readily available to your employees through on-site amenities or subsidized memberships.

You can also assign wellness ambassadors that become role models for all employees! They could share tips, suggest new activities and talk about their lifestyle via corporate communication tools.

Engagement Through Encouragement

A major reason why employees don’t engage with wellness programs in the long run is because they feel defeated after the first few tries. Encourage all employees to participate and give their best effort. To combat discouragement, pair employees with others who can motivate and inspire them!

When daily work revolves around deadline-driven projects, an encouraging wellness program provides a much-needed break from the stresses of the day. It can include fun activities that everyone participates in where the only requirement is to try your best and celebrate the wins.

Customization for Employees

Employees who feel that their wellness program is personalized for their unique needs and level of fitness will be more engaged with the program overall. One way to allow for customization is to offer support for a variety of wellness activities. Going to the gym isn’t for everyone. You can subsidize more than just gym memberships! Try subsidizing the costs of other fitness activities such as yoga classes, community sports teams, martial arts programs, and dance programs!

The benefits of employee wellness programs are endless. They impact your bottom line and your employees lives in a positive way.

A Rand Corporation study on workplace wellness programs found that companies saved an average of $30 per participant each month in healthcare costs. Saving an extra $30 per employee annually may not seem significant. But, it is! Every dollar saved adds up in the long run. designs customized employee wellness programs that align with and support company goals.

We understand what helps employees make the most of wellness and healthcare programs. As a result, our support has helped companies and organizations craft meaningful benefit programs that engage employees.

Contact us today to design a customized employee wellness program based on your company’s unique culture and purpose!



3 First-Class Employee Perks for Small Businesses

They say bigger is better. But, in the world of business, being a small company has it’s perks! Small businesses have a unique opportunity to build a productive, close-knit community full of happy employees. Their size gives them flexibility and the ability to adapt quickly, something that can be difficult for companies with thousands of employees.

However, small businesses compete for the same talent pool as large businesses. Employees expect them to create a great place to work and offer competitive benefits and perks. When competing with giant global companies, small businesses have to be better listeners, hearing and responding to their workforces unique needs and desires.

Here’s a look at some of the best first-class employee perks for small businesses. The following examples come from companies ranked in the top 25 companies on Great Places to Work’s Best Small Workplaces of 2017 list.

Strong Diversity Initiatives

Management consulting company Propeller supports women through it’s women’s empowerment initiative, Propel Her. The program, which encourages men to participate as well, provides mentorship, training, sponsorship, and support for it’s members. The monthly meetings are a safe place for men and women to uplift one another and help each other succeed.

Diversity initiatives can be particularly impactful in a small businesses environment. Smaller businesses, because of their size, don’t always have the same levels of diversity as larger companies. Creating ways to support and acknowledge the variety of people who make up a smaller company is crucial to showing all employees they’re welcome and seen.

Great Workspaces

Designing an energizing, functional and exciting workspace is an employee perk that keeps employees, well, perky! Radio Flyer, which makes children’s products, prides itself on its cool workspace. Natural light fills the space. Sit-to-stand desks, a backyard patio and grill, a cafe, a wellness area and a prototype shop do too!

For small businesses, the look and the feel of the office matters. After all, employees may not have as many places to go in the office when compared to the space a corporate campus with a larger staff offers. This makes it more important than ever to make sure employees enjoy the space they’re spending their time in!

Families in the Office

At 5, it’s not unusual for spouses and kids to be in the office. The electricity and natural gas consulting company allows family members to spend time the office whenever they’d like. The company says sometimes, children spend an entire day or a whole week, spending time with their mom or dad.

Some employees enjoy working or smaller companies because they say their coworkers begin to feel like family. Why not expand the family-friendly atmosphere small business employees love by opening your arms to their loved ones?

These are just a few of the many ways small businesses can differentiate themselves as employers. Thinking of a smaller size as an advantage, rather than a disadvantage, is necessary to finding innovative ways to make your company a great place to work. helps small businesses create incredible benefits packages for their employees. Our benefits consultants focus on aligning your company’s culture and values with your benefits package, creating a one-of-a-kind solution for you. We absolutely love seeing small businesses and their employees succeed because we know that when humans thrive, companies prosper. Contact us today!


Employee Wellness Program Ideas That Work

Employee wellness programs are becoming commonplace in todays work world. Companies are taking responsibility for their employees wellness, connecting the dots between their employees health, their happiness at work and profitability. But, in a world of wellness programs with free gym memberships and on-site personal trainers, what actually works?

Here’s a look at 3 companies with incredible employee wellness programs that make wellness fun, normal and well-rounded. Be inspired by these employee wellness program ideas that work.

Making Wellness Fun

Zappos, an online retailer, does more than just sell fabulous clothing, footwear and accessories. The company has received praise for it’s innovative corporate wellness initiatives. While many companies offer gym memberships and support employees in traditional “workout” activities, Zappos focuses on making wellness fun. The wellness coordinator takes small groups of employees on “wellness adventures,” offsite activities that get employees moving and having fun. Past “wellness adventures” have included taking a group sports lesson, playing laser tag and jumping on a trampoline.

Remember racing out the door for recess in elementary school? Everyone wanted to be the first in line to check out their basketballs or jump ropes. Zappos holds “Recess Tuesdays” every week to help employees stay active. Employees can wander onto the company’s plaza and find all kinds of playground toys!

Making Wellness Normal

To employees a Limeade, a tech company focused on employee engagement, wellness is, well, normal. All employees get a FitBit fitness tracker on their first day so they can jump right in and immerse themselves in the fitness-focused culture.

Additionally, the company’s office space is filled with standing desks, bike desks, yoga balls and scooters. Employees are encouraged to find days to work from home and to take “well-being” breaks throughout the workday. Talk about normalizing wellness in the workplace!

Making Wellness Well-Rounded

Wellness is about more than just going to the gym! Zozi, an online booking software company, knows this. The company gives each employee a quarterly “fun fund” of $400. Employees can spend their “fun fund” money on a mini vacation or to save for something bigger.

The “fun fund” helps give employees something to look forward to, an important part of wellness.

Normalizing wellness as well as making it fun and well-rounded are three keys to successful corporate wellness programs. Have you incorporated these qualities into your company’s program?

The good news is, you can always improve your wellness program and your company’s culture. It’s never too late.

We at love helping companies improve their company culture and communicate their values through the perks and benefits they offer employees. Our knowledgable benefits consultants can help you design the perfect solution for your company and your employees. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.


How 4 Companies Turned Classic Holiday Activities Into Holiday Perks for Employees

Tis’ the season to be jolly! With the holiday season quickly approaching, companies are gearing up for a month full of themed activities. From holiday parties, to service activities, to gifts, companies often play the role of “parents” during the month of December, thinking of create ways to excite and reward their employees, the “kids” in this scenario.

These four companies took the traditional holiday perks for employees to the next level. Here’s how:

Holiday Bonus, Secret Agent Style

On one fateful December day, Tony Hartl strolled into his company, Planet Tan, with a metal briefcase in hand. After calling his employees into a special meeting, he opened the metal briefcase in front of everyone. The case, was brimming with cash! Hartl then proceeded to give each of his 17 employees a stack of 10 $100 bills. There’s something about holding cold, hard cash in your hand that just feels… good.

Many companies give their employees annual holiday bonuses. While receiving money in any form can be exciting, why not get creative in the way you give employees their bonus?

Giving to the Community, Shopping Style

Online writing community encouraged employees to get into the holiday spirit by giving them their own responsibility: shopping for toys! The company gave each employee $200 to spend on gifts for children for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. The program allows people to purchase gifts for children who may not get anything for Christmas otherwise.

Giving employees the opportunity to give with their company in a hands-on way allows them to feel like they’re truly giving back. Writing a large check in the company’s name is one thing. But, getting the whole company involved makes for a more active, intentional and rewarding giving experience.

Cherishing Memories With Loved Ones, Company Style

There’s nothing like sitting around with loved ones, munching on cookies and sipping hot chocolate while rummaging through family photo albums! Louisiana-based building company Fibrebond brings this warm, holiday nostalgia to the office by compiling an annual yearbook. Coworkers can contribute to the book throughout the year, sharing their favorite recipes, fun photos and memories.The company distributes the yearbook to its employees during the holiday season. The goal is to make the yearbook feel like a family photo album that documents and celebrates the company’s employees.

Why not celebrate the holidays in the office with a little family-inspired flair?

Gifts Galore, Raffle Style

It’s always nice to receive gifts during the holidays! Runyon, Saltzman and Einhorn, a Sacramento-based marketing and public relations agency, plays “Santa Claus” for it’s employees, cashing in it’s credit card points to purchase raffle prizes for employees. Everyone receives a gift from the raffle. Past prizes have included plane tickets, hotel stays, gift baskets and iPhones!

Spice up your company’s gift-giving traditions by finding a creative way to distribute the gifts!

While on the surface, holiday perks may not seem like a major priority, the truth is, employees appreciate when their employers make an effort to celebrate and recognize them. Working year-round can be grueling. Incorporating fun holiday activities and perks into the traditional workday is a great way to get into the holiday spirit. Tis’ the season for giving! helps companies create customized, all-inclusive benefits and perks packages. Contact us today for more information about how we can help you prioritize your company culture and take care of your employees.


6 Energizing Health and Fitness Perks for Workplace Wellness

Healthy employees are happy employees. Happy employees are high performing employees. High performing employees make great company leaders. The list goes on and on! It’s safe to say there’s a relationship between employee’s health and their satisfaction at work. Research even shows that employee’s health and happiness on the job impacts their productivity.

Companies across industries and of all sizes are picking up on the fact that investing in their employees health is an investment into the company’s future. From creating health and wellness programs to creating company cultures that encourage healthy lifestyle choices, companies are getting creative with how they promote health on the job.

Here’s a look at 6 energizing health and fitness perks:

Reimbursement for Races

Motley Fool, a multimedia financial services company, encourages employees to keep it moving by reimbursing them for any race registration fees! From marathons, to 5Ks, to Iron Mans, employees can sign up knowing their company supports them. The company reimburses team members for 50% of race-associated costs.

In-Office Organic Garden

Earth Friendly Products, in staying true to it’s name, provides employees with products from the earth itself! Each of the company’s facilities has an organic garden with home-grown fruits and vegetables for employees!

Discounted Local Yoga Studio Memberships

More and more companies are electing to reimburse employees for gym memberships to encourage regular exercise. TrendKite, a public relations analytics company, takes it one step further, offering employees discounted memberships to local yoga and fitness studios! This perk is great for employees who may not enjoy pumping iron at a traditional gym, but love yoga, pilates, dance and other fitness activities!

Employee Health Fair

Life insurance company Royal Neighbors of America holds an Employee Health Fair each year to promote wellness. The fair features free massages, flu vaccines and confidential biometric screenings. Employees can win health-related prizes for participating!

Onsite Farmers Markets

Nicklaus’ Children’s Health System hosts a weekly farmers market on all of its campuses each week! The market features local vendors selling a variety of healthy products including fruits and vegetables, honey, soups, and more. And the best part? Employees get a special discount on all items purchased!

“Workout Wednesdays”

Employees at Fitbit know they can break out their comfiest workout clothes on Wednesday. The day, deemed “Workout Wednesday” is devoted to fitness across the company. Employees have the option to participate in workouts throughout the day. The company plans about 6-9 workout activities each Wednesday, many of which are led by Fitbit employees! Sometimes, company executives lead the classes! The company plans about 6-9 workout activities each Wednesday.

When workplaces prioritize their employee’s health, they’re prioritizing people! At, we believe that when humans thrive, companies prosper. We love helping companies create comprehensive benefits packages and perks with their employees in mind. Do you need help prioritizing your people?

We’re here to help. Contact us today to speak to one of our professional benefits consultants!


5 Inspiring Workplace Perks that Build Culture

These days, it’s not enough for companies to provide employees with jobs that pay well. People want to enjoy their time at work too! Creating a workplace culture and environment that gets people excited about coming to work is crucial to attracting and retaining great employees.

Here’s a look at 5 culture-building workplace perks companies have implemented to keep things fresh on the job:

Waffle Thursday

Medical technology company Heartflow, Inc. makes more than just non-invasive analysis equipment. The company makes waffles for employees one Thursday out of the month! Employees can decorate and enjoy tasty waffles as they work, keeping things sweet and savory in the office.

Money for Carpooling

Carpooling to work pays at Kovach Building Enclosures. Literally! The company gives each employee $4 for each day they share a ride. Incentivizing employees to spend time commuting together encourages them to connect with their coworkers and help the environment! Employees can pocket up to $80 extra each month just for carpooling!

Celebrating ALL Holidays

Netskope, a cloud security software company, brims with diversity! In order to acknowledge and celebrate all of it’s employees, the company makes it a point to recognize all holidays! From Hanukkah to Diwali to Christmas to Canada Day, no holiday gets left behind! Embracing holidays from different cultures allows employees to learn about one another’s cultures, creating an environment where differences are welcome and everyone has a place.

Storytelling and Spontaneous Company-Wide Activities

It makes sense that a marketing agency would get creative with their company culture. Creativity is the currency of marketing! The VIA Agency builds a fun, artsy culture at the office by selecting three employees to write a fictional story each month. The stories must align with a chosen prompt. Then, the employees read their stories to the entire agency! What a great way to keep laughs abounding in the office and writing skills sharp!

The agency also plans spontaneous activities for the whole company to spark creativity! The events have ranged from dance parties, to snow sculpture contents to improvisation workshops. There’s no better way to bond with your coworkers than by giving new activities outside of your comfort zone a try!

“Breakfast Clubs”

Starting off the day with a great breakfast can turn your good day into a great day! Intercare Therapy hosts breakfasts for employees with coffee, bagels, breakfast sandwiches, donuts and more tasty treats. Employees who attend the “Intercare Breakfast Club” can also participate in team-building exercises with raffle prizes and awards. Sounds like a great way to start the morning!

Building and cultivating an amazing workplace culture may sound like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! It can be fun and rewarding to watch employee’s thrive at work as a result of culture-building, programs, activities and perks!

That’s where we come in. Our expert benefits consultants love partnering with companies to design benefits packages that support strategic goals and keep employees happy. We think outside of the box, creating customized solutions that align with and build your company’s culture. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you make 2018 your best year yet!


Benefits and Values: A Look Into How The Honest Company Aligns Them

The idea that companies can and should offer employee benefits and perks that align with their values is gaining ground. Now, it’s not uncommon to find companies thinking beyond the traditional benefits, like 401Ks and health insurance.

Getting creative about how to connect employees to the company’s values can be fun and incredibly rewarding. You don’t have to be the biggest, most established company to begin thinking along these lines. Taking time now to be intentional about aligning benefits and values will have you reaping a consistent harvest of happy, loyal, motivated employees.

The Honest Company prides itself on being a healthy lifestyle brand committed to making safe, responsible, accessible and effective products. The company, founded by actress Jessica Alba, also values educating it’s customers and community.

The company’s mission statement says this:

We’re a wellness brand with values rooted in consciousness, community, transparency and design. And we’re on a mission to empower people to live happy, healthy lives. Every day and in every way, we hold ourselves to an Honest standard. Because we believe that what you put on, in and around your body matters. A lot.

Here’s a look at some of the perks and benefits The Honest Company offers it’s employees that align with its values:


Employees get to participate in monthly company-wide volunteer activities organized by The Honest Company’s Social Goodness Department. In addition, the company matches dollars to every hour employees volunteer with organizations outside of work. Clearly, social consciousness and social goodness permeate the company culture.


The Honest Company prioritizes community in the workplace by encouraging celebration and fun regularly. Employees can attend quirky social events to hang out with their fellow employees. From parking lot concerts, to carnivals, to ping-pong tournaments and Crock-pot wars, The Honest Company makes sure employees have something fun to look forward to eery month! The company also believes in celebrating the “tiny moments,” hosting birthday festivities, baby showers and team happy hours.


It makes sense that a company with the word “Honest” in it’s name would value transparency! One way this plays out is through The Honest Company’s health and wellness initiatives. The company offers subsidies for gym memberships or reimburses employees for their plans. Additionally, the company keeps its kitchens fully stocked with healthy snacks and beverages. (Guess you won’t find your favorite soda-pop or Cheetos there!) From on-tap sparkling water, to freshly fruit and veggies, to weekly Kombucha deliveries, The Honest Company honestly wants it’s employees to live their healthiest lives.


You can never underestimate the role a space’s vibe and design can play in how employees feel at work! The Honest Company’s headquarters look like a “Pinterest board come to life.” The building features recreational rooms with ping-pong tables and cornhole setups, relaxing spaces with couches and newspapers, live plants, lots of natural light and collaborative workspaces. Working in a beautiful, uplifting space that encourages productivity and collaboration gets employees excited to come to work. It can also help them hone into their work and place the cares of their everyday lives on pause while in the space.

The Honest Company keeps their values at the forefront of the perks and benefits they offer their employees. And, the stats are in! 94% of employees said the company had a great atmosphere and 83% say it has great rewards according to a survey taken by the Great Place to Work Institute. 

We at believe benefits don’t have to be boring. We love partnering with companies to create custom, personalized benefits packages that align with their company’s culture and are sure to keep their employees happy. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you reap the benefits of an amazing employee benefits package.


5 Employee Benefits That Demonstrate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility is a huge buzzword these days. The idea that companies should do their part to be good, responsible, sustainable citizens is no longer a bizzare or hippie-like idea. More and more companies are embracing corporate social responsibility and aligning with causes to help use their resources to make the world a better place.

Many employees now expect their companies to be responsible and an organization’s commitment to social responsibility can be a huge draw for candidates looking to work somewhere that aligns with their values. Firms can communicate their values through their benefits packages. Empowering and supporting employees to pursue and support causes they believe through benefits can be a great way to attract passionate, talented people and make room for social consciousness in the workplace.

Here are 5 companies with employee benefits that demonstrate social responsibility:

Grants For Your Favorite Charitable Organizations

Denim icon Levi Strauss & Co encourages employees to volunteer and serve on the boards of nonprofits. These passionate employees engaged in the nonprofit sector can apply for a yearly Community Service Grant for their organization. The grants can be up to $1,200 per year.

Substantial Paid Time Off to Volunteer

Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk gives employees 80 hours (a record 10 days per year) of paid time off to volunteer. The company is incredibly dedicated to community service, with the value engrained in every part of it’s operations. Company meetings offsite generally involve a community service component. The company even has a social awareness team that’s responsible for organizing meaningful community service opportunities. Additionally, the company has an internal portal to help it’s staff find volunteering opportunities. Talk about being intentional! Giving employees 10 days to volunteer gives them the freedom to truly make an impact in the community!

3:1 Gift Matching for Donations to Higher Education

Oil and gas giant ExxonMobil supports employees, retirees and surviving spouses in giving to their favorite higher education institutions by matching contributions 3:1. The company will match up to $7,500 of donations to U.S. colleges and universities, including some minority colleges and universities.

Incentive to Buy a Hybrid, Natural Gas or Electric Vehicle

Bank of America is committed to sustainable energy sources. and supporting energy alternatives to gas and coal. The company offers it’s employees $3,000 to buy a hybrid, natural gas or electric vehicle. Eligible employees can also receive a $500 discount for employees investing in getting a solar rooftop installed by SolarCity.

Bonus For Moving Closer to Work

Facebook encourages employees to be environmentally-conscious by offering $10,000 bonuses to those who move closer to it’s corporate campus in Silicon Valley. This perk helps reduce the number of employees stuck in the Bay Area’s notoriously bad traffic. It also recognizes the environmental impact of long commutes and encourages employees to better their lives (and the environment) by moving closer to work.

Each of these companies started with a value and created incentives for employees to embrace those values. From environmental consciousness to support for higher education to renewable energy sources, your company can create a culture of action, service and responsibility through values-inspired benefits.

Benefits go beyond health insurance and retirement plans. At, we believe benefits are an incredible way to share your company’s values with employees and with the community. You don’t have to have endless resources to be able to create benefits and perks your employees will love. We can help. Contact us today to learn more about creating the perfect comprehensive benefits package for your company culture.



Tamara Lilian, Manager of Culture & Experience at HubSpot on The Benifit

Tamara LillianTamara Lilian’s time in the hospitality industry sparked her love for working with people. Today, she works with people, a lot of them, in a different capacity. Lilian manages a global team as the manager of culture and experience at HubSpot. She worked her way up through the company, starting as a front desk receptionist.

On the job, Tamara creates incredible experiences for HubSpot employees. From Jedi awards, to a living, breathing document called the HubSpot culture code, HubSpot’s got it going on when it comes to enabling employees to thrive.

Put those earbuds in or turn up the speakers because you won’t want to miss a second of this episode!

The Benifit is a podcast hosted by Kate King, cofounder of Kate interviews innovative executives from your favorite companies about how they know that when people thrive, companies prosper.

Show Highlights:

[00:29] Tamara falls in love with working with people

[03:17] Tamara talks about HubSpot’s master classes, free books program and tuition reimbursement

[06:24] “As far as I’m concerned, just because you’re an individual contributor doesn’t take away from the fact that you can be a successful employee.”

[08:28] Tamara talks JEDI Awards

[13:12] “More than ever, people are more interested now and saying, ‘Hey, the benefits are great and this interview is cool, but I want to interview with the team that I’m going to be sitting on. I want to understand how am I going to be working with people and if I’m going to really vibe with those people.’ ”

[16:37] Tamara’s advice to companies wanting to align their culture and values

[22:07] Tamara shares here morning routine

[24:50] Tamra shares the 3 rules she lives by

The Benifit: Interview with Tamara Lilian, manager of culture and experience at HubSpot

[[00:00:05] Kate: Okay. I’m joined by Tamara, who is manager of culture and experience at HubSpot.

Tamara, good afternoon there.

[00:00:15] Tamara: Thanks, Kate.

[00:00:16] Kate: Tamara, let’s get straight into it. Can you provide some background on your career path and the choices you’ve made over the past few years and how you ended up in the role at HubSpot?

[00:00:29] Tamara: Sure. Originally, after I graduated college, I moved back to the East Coast. I was out at Indiana University. I moved back to the East Coast and I joined the hospitality industry. I actually worked at a hotel for quite a few years, and I really fell in love with working with people. Whether it was colleagues or customers, I really love just enhancing the experience and creating personalized touches and really understanding that folks that traveled for a living really needed a touch of home wherever they went, and how it was really important to provide that experience for people and how much it meant to people on the other side, even though it may have felt a small detail or simple on your side.

After some time there, I felt as though I wasn’t growing in the capacity that I would like to and I wasn’t learning in the way that I would like to you. I heard so much about tech and software on the East Coast in the Boston area and seemed like a really great challenge. I found HubSpot and actually applied and joined as a front desk receptionist. One of the reasons I did that, Kate, was because I really loved coming in at the bottom and working my way to the top and understanding how this business grows and what software and tech really is.

I wasn’t super familiar with the product or the engineering side of anything when I came to HubSpot. It was a great decision. I learned a ton of my first few months at the front desk reception. I really understood how a company like this, going from assertive to a scale, was able to scale globally and be really successful after going public. A few months after joining the front desk, Katie Burke, who at the time was the director of our culture team and is now our chief people officer, actually, had asked me to join as a culture coordinator on the team.

There were three of us at that time running the team and trying to figure out how do we create and scale this culture that we want to be a part of. Fast forward, two-and-a-half years later, I’m now a manager on the team managing a global team and ensuring that we enhance the employee, new hire candidate, and alumni experience on a daily basis. It’s been a fantastic ride. We’re still learning more than ever and it’s still a really big challenge, but we’re more motivated than ever to continue

[00:02:59] Kate: Tamara, thank you. We were going to go through a few questions about you, but I’m really intrigued about your HubSpot experience. Go more, if you would, into how HubSpot really enables people to thrive in that culture.

[00:03:17] Tamara: Sure, yes. We have quite a few examples of how we do that here. Growth is really, really important. It’s a really important value that we take seriously here at HubSpot. We really take the time and create programs so that folks can grow both personally and professionally. One of the ways that we do that internally is we host master classes. Master classes are one-hour classes. They’re taught by employees for employees, so that makes that a free resource that any company can run with.

We keep topics a mix of personal professionals. Whether it’s intro to Adobe Illustrator or how to decorate a birthday cake, we feel that everyone should come to work every day and leave having learned something you didn’t know coming in. These are voluntarily — We ask people that we know are super passionate about something to take that hour and teach their colleagues, but it’s a really fun way to get a mix of departments in the room and get folks learning from one another. Master classes are a tried and true tradition that we love hosting here at HubSpot.

Another program that we have is our free books program. This is a digital library, if you will. We really encourage folks. If you find a book that you feel will help further your career at HubSpot and help you grow personally and professionally, we’re happy to provide that for you. We have an online forum that you grew across through an Amazon Kindle and we’ll fill it for you within the 24 hours.

We also provide tuition reimbursement. The cost varies a little bit depending on the country. I know in the United States, it’s about $5,000 a year. Again, this is really just showing the team that while we have some really amazing internal resources, we also know that there’s some great external resources out there as well and we want folks to learn from diversity of thoughts. Not just inside of HubSpot, but outside of HubSpot as well. Really, on the employees with that so that they can go out and continue to learn some great things and bring that back to HubSpot with them. Those are just a few of the growth-related programs that we have here at HubSpot.

[00:05:18] Kate: Thank you. I was reading and perhaps you could explain a bit about the overall culture code, the HubSpot culture code you have. I know some of those examples you’ve just given, I did take a look at it and it’s quite remarkable, I think, even in the examples you gave. There were two things that really stood out to me in the code. One was that you enable people to gain mastery as an individual contributor and make magic.

The second one, to have that, what you call, spectacular support for those who really do number one, which is gain that mastery. I think you gave fantastic examples of where HubSpot truly is behind that as their culture and living and breathing that every day, which is always so refreshing to see in new companies with high growth. A lot of companies out there have significant high growth. Sometimes the culture gets left behind, but I see this is very much the pulse of the organization, which is fantastic.

[00:06:24] Tamara: Yes. [clears throat] Excuse me. Absolutely, yes. I think that’s a good point when you refer to the individual contributors. I think, as though, sometimes folks get caught up in titles and understanding, “Oh, are you an individual contributor? Are you a manager? Are you a director? Are you a vice president?” We try not to get too tied up in that. As far as I’m concerned, just because you’re an individual contributor doesn’t take away from the fact that you can be a successful employee. Frankly, I think, anyone here can be a leader.

I don’t think that depends on your title at all. I would actually argue that a good amount of the leaders that I respect here at HubSpot are individual contributors. I think you make a really good point. In terms of the culture code, Dharmesh Shah, who is one of our co-founders, actually works on this. This is an ongoing, breathing, living document, right? As HubSpot scales and grows over the years, so does our culture, right? That’s going to evolve and change as we continue to hire remarkable talent, as we continue to serve wonderful customers, and as we continue to add offices in different countries over the world.

It’s been viewed over three million times. It’s really just an inside peak at how we work and what we believe in here. It shows what we value. In the spirit of transparency, which you know is a part of our big values, we decided to really share this externally with the world. We figure that holding it in wouldn’t do us any good. It’s really a reflection of who we are, who we aspire to be.

We’ve learned that culture is going to happen organically, right? It’s going to happen one way or the other, so why not create a culture that we love and that we want to live by? Dharmesh had created that. As I said, I think that we may be on version 30 or 31 at this point, but we continue to go back in there. As we learn and grow as a company, we continue to evolve that document as well.

[00:08:10] Kate: Fantastic. Now, I was reading JEDI Awards. Do you still have those? Maybe you could explain a little bit more about them. Because I thought this was not only an intriguing concept, but fun in terms of what JEDI stood for.

[00:08:28] Tamara: Totally, yes. We’re definitely a company. We like to have a lot of fun with things. Of course, when you think of JEDI right off the bat, you think of Star Wars. We definitely have some fans here for that. Essentially, what we have JEDI stand for is someone who “Just Effing Does It.” Really what that means is someone that’s really quietly doing their job. They’re not looking for recognition. They’re always doing the right thing.

They’re being really selfless with their work. Whether their manager is around or not around or whether someone’s watched them count their hours or not count their hours, they’re really solving for EV, they’re solving for the company, they’re solving for the customer. They’re really passionate and they really believe in the mission here. We do give out those awards. We have company meetings every quarter, so that’s four times a year.

We don’t give them out every time, right? Someone has to be really, really deserving of that. When we find someone to award that to, it’s really special. It’s a really unique award. It’s one of those people that when they get that award, every company turns and says, “Wow. That is a remarkable employee. That’s a wonderful employee.” Everyone is on the same page and everyone agrees that that person is very well deserving. That’s definitely a fun one that we love to give out what we can.

[00:09:42] Kate: Yes. I love it because it just brings that recognition, which is core on that positive psychology in a culture. The fun factor when I first saw it, I’m a real Star Wars fan. It was like that, the JEDI Award, and then when I saw it in its simplicity of people just getting their job done, but that just getting that job done is so magical and momentous every day when you have the culture that you’re striving for at HubSpot.

I really enjoyed reading that and thought that that was something that, for listeners and other companies, it’s very easy to institute into their organization and it hits so many key benefits of just bringing people together and people who’re doing their job really get recognized for it. Thank you for going into a little bit more detail on that.

[00:10:33] Tamara: Of course, Kate, yes. To your point too in terms of sharing this with the listeners in other companies, that is one of the other reasons why we made the culture code transparent. That’s another reason why I decided to join in on this podcast is because we want people to learn from us, right? I think a lot of the programs that we run are transferable and sometimes some ideas take a bigger budget than others.

Like I mentioned with the master class, I mean, that’s zero cost. The only cost there is time which, of course, we don’t want to underestimate either because finding time can be tough as well. We try to really encourage other companies and other teams to continue to have these conversations because we’ve seen such success with it. We want others to be able to reap the same benefits as well.

[00:11:19] Kate: Yes, fantastic. I think that overall objective of you come in as a HubSpot employee and you learn something new every day. We have the ability to learn something new. That high growth factor being so part of your culture, really to be reflected, the promise you also give to your customers. We’re just starting to see in the industry people really understanding employee voice and customer voice.

When I looked at the culture code, one of the first things I saw was the phrase, “Culture is for recruiting as product is to marketing.” From the back, HubSpot really said, “Okay. Employee voice is as important as customer voice. When I can work that ecosystem well together, we all win,” which is very exciting to see really part of a company’s DNA from the get-go.

[00:12:18] Tamara:  Yes, absolutely. Thank you for that.

[00:12:20] Kate: The other thing that I saw which I also love, because I think companies and listeners to this do struggle with the different generations in the workplace. It was a very transparent in the code of the work environment is changing. People use to look for a good boss or they had focused on a pension. They would look at where they worked in the office.

It seems to me that HubSpot from the get-go came out with — The thing now is purpose. The thing is being around great colleagues. It’s wherever you need to work for the highest results, the hours you need to to achieve what you want to do here in this culture. Maybe you can just give me some more examples or take that further in terms of what you see in the day-to-day working at HubSpot.

[00:13:12] Tamara: Yes, I couldn’t agree more with you, Kate. Through the amount of interviews that we do and the people that I meet with, it’s very clear who truly wants to be part of the company for the right reasons. I think throughout the culture code and throughout social media and throughout different events that we throw, I think what’s been really popular in the software and tech space is people get really obsessive with these perks, right? They say, “Wow, unlimited vacation and I can bring my dog to work. There’s free beer and there’s this social event.”

That’s all good and great. I think it’s a great perk that we have here at HubSpot that we have so much fun ingrained in what we do. If that’s the reason that you’re going to join a company, you’re frankly not going to last there very long. You really need to join to be wanting to solve for the customer. You’re really ingrained in the values and the mission that you’re driving. I would argue, as you’ll see in the culture code, that people are greater than perks, right?

While I do love the unlimited vacation policy and I totally utilize it and I love seeing dogs around the office and I love grabbing a snack in the cafeteria that’s complimentary, I come to work here every day because of the people that I work with, because of the people I report to, because of the people that report to me, because of my peers. To me, that’s truly what people today are looking for. As you said, all the stock options are great and the salary’s wonderful and health benefits.

That’s totally dependent on how folks making the decisions. More than ever, people are more interested now and saying, “Hey, the benefits are great and this interview is cool, but I want to interview with the team that I’m going to be sitting on. I want to understand how am I going to be working with people and if I’m going to really vibe with those people.” You’re seeing more and more of that now. I think it’s really important and really telling the folks that want to be here. I think that’s a smart way to approach it.

[00:15:10] Kate: I agree with you. I think that for what we see as benefits is that recruiting tool that says, “You have great benefits,” and that’s almost a prerequisite to get phenomenally committed people into your culture. I think that really is where we’re seeing talent being driven is, “I want to go and work with great colleagues.” It’s not some necessarily decisional benefits, but the benefits have to be pretty good, pedigree benefits to even get them in the door. I appreciate you going into more detail. Definitely, that spur of growth, that spur of being able to be part of the winning culture with your colleagues is definitely a core trait of great companies.

Tamara, what would you recommend as a starting point for a company looking at how they set their own culture code? Typically, companies may set it up at the beginning. They may do a five-year review of it. They may even be coming to the table as a startup or as a growing, fast startup saying, “How do we really embrace this fast growth and create this culture in which people really feel part of?” What would be your advice or how would you recommend them start of thinking about it?

[00:16:37] Tamara: Kate, that’s a great question. One of the things that makes me most excited is we do have some local startups that have reached out to me and they say, “Hey, we have about five to seven employees. How do we work on people operations and how do we work on a culture?” That makes me really excited and I will tell you why. The reason being most people do not think of that so early on in the company. Folks are so concerned with, “Where is our sales team? Where is our marketing team? How are we building a product? How are we going to build another office?”

All of that is great. Don’t get me wrong. That’s all extremely important and viable in understanding how you’re going to grow a business. I think where most people fail is that they don’t put the people and the employees in that culture first and they just focus so much more in the other side of the business that they fail to realize that the other side of the business isn’t going to run until you make your people happy and comfortable and motivated.

My advice would be to just start. Don’t be intimidated. Start to really take out your values. Don’t worry about creating a culture code deck slide. That’s 130 slides or whatever it may be.

[00:17:46] Kate: [laughs]

[00:17:47] Tamara: Even if it’s just a Google Doc, open it up, meet with some of your other co-founders. Even if you’re already to seven, learn at that point what’s important to people. Like I said, what’s important to you at that size may change and that’s okay. You can go back and modify that document and maybe you meet quarterly or maybe you meet once a year and you say, “Hey, this is what was important to us on day one. How has that shifted and why?” Have those conversations.

One of the reasons why our culture here has been so supported and so successful to this point is because Brian and Dharmesh, the co-founders of the company, and the rest of the executive management team didn’t say, “Oh, culture is an HR priority.” People operations, that’s their priority. Culture has always been a business priority. It’s just as important to the business as product, engineering, marketing, sales, services, what-have-you.

[00:18:58] Kate: Fantastic, thank you. I think that to summarize the advice, I think, in one sentence would be that your people are a business priority. I love the way you put it. It’s as equal as product, engineering, the tech, the business decisions around that. Thank you.

[00:19:21] Tamara: Of course.

[00:19:23] Kate: Tamara, I’m intrigued by your master classes. I love the idea that you can learn to decorate a cake or you can learn Adobe publisher. What was the last master class you went to?

[00:19:37] Tamara: The last master class that I went to, we’ve been doing some one-offs lately with just the people operations team. We had an individual who ran on how to communicate in an executive level, which was really helpful in understanding, “How do you come prepared to a meeting if you do need to go present to someone at a senior leadership level? How do you arrange a slide deck? How much text you have on there? How much do you have in your notes? How do you sort of plan that timing, understanding? If you start at 1:30 and end at 2:00 o’clock, how do you make sure you have enough time for questions and how do you deal with sort of the stress on that?”

That one was really interesting and really helpful for me. Right now, I’m currently forecasting our budget for 2018 and will shortly have to go and present to the finance team in understanding how I ask for more money. That was a really helpful class for me. It actually was taught by an individual who is a director on the people operations team, and so that was really helpful for me and again was a completely free resource and someone who I can also continue to follow up with and practice in front of.

That was a lovely one and I’m actually going to be hosting a master class in early November here on the art of the deal and working on having folks understand how they can negotiate contracts and leverage relationships externally as well.

[00:20:59] Kate: Fantastic. Tamara, I’m going to switch a little bit more to get back to you. I loved how you shared your story of your hospitality career and that you wanted to bring people’s home into their travel. That’s really helped you propel into living a breathing culture within HubSpot. Just from a personal perspective, I like to look at people’s morning routine. There’s a lot of talk about it in the industry, a lot of talk about it from key influences out there as well as rules in which you live by. I say “rules” loosely because I think that there are some key things that people have, attributes they have worn as they go into different companies.

I know there’s a couple of questions in there. First one, perhaps you could share for our listeners your morning routine. Are there things in there that you’ve learned over time, the things that you played around with? You wake up and what is your initial routine?

[00:22:07] Tamara: Sure. My morning routine is I feel a little bit opposite from some other folks. I know some other folks start out with a meditation or with a journal. Mine’s a little bit opposite from that. I am way more effective and efficient first thing in the morning than I am later in the afternoon, so I prefer to set my unwinding and my relaxation time for later in the day. I’m also really cautious because I work for a global company and I work with a global team.

The first thing I do in the morning is check email. I know that sounds very sort of the opposite of what we should be preaching and I think to an extent that that’s true. I really want to understand what happened with my AIPAC teams for their day, right? For my Sydney, Singapore, and Tokyo teams, I’m going to have emails from them from when I first wake up and I don’t want to let those emails linger any longer than they need to. Also with our EMEA teams in Dublin and in Berlin, they’ve been working since 3:00 AM my time that morning and they’re waiting on me for responses as well.

I really want to be cautious and understanding what my team needs for me and how I can best assist them in a timely manner. I know that to your point what I’ve learned, I should be taking more time for myself first thing in the morning, but I’m really really cautious of that. We’ve been talking a lot lately about communicating globally and understanding how we can best scale our work. I found that to be successful for me and my team recently, so I’m sticking with it for now.

I absolutely take time in the afternoon to spend time with friends and family, go for a walk, do the other things that I enjoy in my personal life, but I really want to make sure first thing in the morning that I’m prepared for my day that I understand what’s expected of me that day, what my schedule looks like, who am I going to be meeting with. Really important that I go into work and make the most of my time while I’m there, so my morning is way more about preparing for my professional day than anything else.

[00:23:57] Kate: Fantastic. I’m with you. I don’t think there’s necessarily a right or wrong approach. It’s really how you are most effective with the day. If waking up for you, grabbing coffee, and immediately just getting back to people. I think it’s interesting when you have a global team, how responsive you need to be with them, and really getting that up and running.

I think that you’re probably giving everybody a bit of a breath of fresh air saying it’s okay to be productive in the morning. It really works for me being a leader of a global team. Thank you for sharing that.

[00:24:36] Tamara: Sure.

[00:24:37] Kate: The rules you live by, can you give us a couple of what Tamara lives by, what gets you up in the morning, how you really fueled yourself for your career and your life at HubSpot?

[00:24:50] Tamara: Absolutely. My first one is actually inspired by my father who has said this to me for years. I’ve really utilized it on a daily basis. “If you don’t ask, you won’t know.” I think folks are usually afraid to ask whether it’s interpersonal lives or professional lives. To me, when it comes to negotiating contracts or planning programs or events, always ask, “Can you get 10% off if you use them three times in a row? Can you do a complimentary session if you do it at an earlier time? Hey, this doesn’t work for me at 10:00 AM. Could we push it back to 12:00 PM?”

I feel as though folks are always afraid to ask questions or they’re afraid to say no, but I say just ask. Don’t be afraid. If you don’t ask, you won’t know. The worst that’s going to happen is someone’s going to say no to you and you’re going to get back at square one where you started anyway. Learning how to leverage relationships so that everyone wins I think is really important.

Second role would just be being honest with yourself and with others and understanding that your strengths and weaknesses are crucial and what those are. For example, if there’s something that you’re not great at or that you can’t do, ask for help and that’s okay, right? That’s only going to better yourself because you’re going to grow from that and learn even quicker.

The third one is to always expect the unexpected and be prepared. Someone who’s an event planner, that is my day-to-day. You’re always going to be thrown a curveball. Not only have a backup plan, but just learn how to think on your feet. Be really adaptable and just understand what you want your outcome to be and you can absolutely get there no matter what is thrown at you that day.

[00:26:31] Kate: Your PM meditation time helps you get prepared for the curveballs or perhaps the next minute or the next day.

[00:26:39] Tamara: Exactly, yes.

[00:26:41] Kate: Love that, love that. Okay, Tamara. I know our time is up, I really do appreciate your insight not only into HubSpot, but how you really said about your manifesto with those three things that you live by and sharing for everybody who does get up and do their email. That welcome to the rest of the world, that’s what people do. Thank you so much more specifically for really giving us another insight into HubSpot. I think that the whole book, requested books, the JEDI, really that master class, being able to be an individual but master that.

Whether it’s being a leader, whether it’s being an event planner, whether it’s negotiating contracts that you look for in HubSpot, the true mastery of what that brings, I really appreciate you for giving us a further insight and truly thank you for your time today.

[00:27:45] Tamara: Thank you so much, Kate. It was an absolute pleasure. I’m really glad I was able to be a part of it.