Wellbeing Meetup Style: Community as Culture
This post was originally published on Disrupters, Virgin’s blog. Reblogged with permission from the author.
For years, we’ve been trying to nail down what’s so special about life behind the scenes at Meetup. In part, it’s our special rituals: celebrating our team with tokens for work anniversaries – engraved red Swingline stapler at the two year mark, photo slideshows of Meetuppers who have recently crossed the six year mark and a three month paid sabbatical at the seven year mark.
We host an annual cook-it-ourselves company picnic complete with spouses, significant others, children, friends, neighbors and the occasional park worker. New hires venture out on a Meetup crawl to visit as many Meetups as they can get to in one night with our CEO and co-founder, Scott Heiferman.
Each of these rituals show our culture, and there’s a line that connects them. The thing that makes Meetup so extraordinary is that we’re practicing what we preach: community. Meetup’s Headquarters is a prime example of community as culture.We’re a for-profit, mission-focused company.
The world has become so used to companies raking in profit and placing its importance above all else: user experience, employee experience, the footprint left behind, that Meetup’s mission dedication can feel like an anomaly. But it’s the glue that binds us together and motivates us in our work.
Many companies are trying to nail culture because it’s one of the most impactful ways to recruit – and Meetup is no different. We’re building the company we want to work for: a company that leaves the world a bit stronger and treats its team with respect and humanity. In practice, that means we’re deliberate and intentional in everything from hiring decisions to office design, transparent communications to the benefits we offer our team.
“We’re a living, breathing community that exists outside of the walls of HQ”
In one concrete example that I’m proud to share, we revisited and modified our parental leave policy in 2015. The changes weren’t scrutinized for their cost. The decision was about doing the right thing. Launched this summer, new parents are offered a mix of paid leave and transitional leave when returning to work at 100 per cent salary for up to six months. A family should have time to adjust to such a big change, and that time makes for a stronger community. Simply put: the policy change aligned with what we’re all about.
Meetup hires people with a little sparkle, if you will. Meetuppers often have something they’re fiercely passionate about. Maybe it’s something they’d be slow to share among new acquaintances, but once they’re into their “New Job” at Meetup, suddenly those hesitations melt away.
People feel comfortable being themselves, and that creates an opportunity for real relationships to form. Among other Meetuppers, we’ve found our people. And together, working as a true team, we’re making a significant impact on people’s lives.
Just like the communities our platform enables, the Meetup HQ community has changed and shifted over time. Still, ties among current and former employees are strong. At a recent rooftop BBQ with 250 guests, at least 10 per cent were former Meetuppers who came to gather, catch up and celebrate the 13 years of community (and counting!) that is Meetup. When you celebrate the engineer who’s left the team because his side project got funded, and you support the Product Director who was O.V.E.R. New York by keeping him on board in Colorado, you create stronger ties than those at most companies. Meetup has nailed that. We’re a living, breathing community that exists outside of the walls of HQ and we couldn’t be prouder.
PS: Want to get in on the Meetup magic? We’re hiring for all kinds of roles, including Head of Recruitment – check us out!