Going Beyond Foosball: Startup Perks with Meaning

Going Beyond Foosball: Startup Perks with Meaning

Amrita on March 21, 2014

As the Office and Operations Manager at Magoosh, a large part of my responsibilities is to foster company culture by organizing various events and perks for our employees. We might not have free laundry services and a masseuse here at Magoosh, but the perks we do have are absolutely integral to who we really are as a team. They embody all of our company values and are truly Magooshy and fun at the same time.

Lunch and Learns: Lunchtime lessons on world religions, liqueurs, and Nigerian culture

Lunch and Learns are in some ways the epitome of “Magooshiness.” The basic concept of a Lunch and Learn is to have one team member teach all the others about a topic that he or she has some expertise in (over lunch). But at Magoosh, we really go beyond that. There are so many topics that Magooshers are passionate about that they often go the extra mile and bring in materials and powerpoints to make these lunches really amazing learning experiences. From fractals to SQL to liqueurs, we’ve had Lunch and Learns on all sorts of topics. They bring out the most inquisitive sides of us and let our curiosity and creativity shine. By fostering a culture of constant learning, we are able to further our empathy for Magoosh students who are experiencing their own educational challenges.

In the interest of making our Lunch and Learns as accessible as possible, we’ve also invited the startup we share an office space with to join us for them. And we occasionally bring in people from outside our company to come in and give talks on topics like investing that we want an expert for. It’s all completely flexible – teach whatever you want, whenever there’s time, to whomever you want! At the end of the day, our Lunch and Learns are just like our product: making education fun and accessible for everyone 🙂

Team Dinners: When campaign season arrives at Magoosh

Magooshers are a pretty diverse bunch. That’s wonderful for working, but near-catastrophic for planning events. Despite this – or maybe because of it – the enjoyable part for me is getting everyone involved in the planning. I like to make it a collaborative process, and, well, it’s just more fun this way. We have a simple voting system: people pitch their ideas for where to go, and then everyone votes using Asana.

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There usually end up being at least three major frontrunners, people choose sides, and then campaigning begins! Flurries of gchats are sent back and forth, appeals are overheard in the kitchen… it goes on for days. Obviously, there are clear merits to a team dinner – the bonding, the casual atmosphere, the chance to let loose. At Magoosh, though, it’s not just about the dinner itself, but also the “Game of Dinners” that unfailingly precedes it.

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Classes Stipend: Helping Magooshers become pro ballerinas and skiers on the side

This one is pretty self explanatory: we have a monthly stipend for employees to use toward taking classes, again, a perk that many other companies have also. What makes our version “Magooshy” is that we use this stipend for absolutely whatever kind of class we want to take – it doesn’t have to be related to our profession; it doesn’t have to be career-related at all. We fully appreciate art, gardening, cooking, dance, bartending, any and all classes out there that make us expand our horizons. At the end of the day, that’s what the classes stipend is really all about: stretching ourselves to try something we never thought we would. I’ve used the stipend for skiing classes, which were an absolute blast, and other Magooshers have used it for krav maga, ballet, and ceramics. The world is our oyster; we try anything and everything!

Activity Fund: Playing outside the box

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The activity stipend enables us to organize and attend our own fun events and was created to allow ourselves to really take advantage of our diversity. Here are the rules:

1. Everyone must be invited

2. There must be at least two Magooshers attending (including the organizer)

3. The event must be approved by the Office and Operations Manager

Thanks to this stipend, we’ve had trips to Warriors games, the Exploratorium, Nerd Nite, Monty Python screenings, and more! And it’s given me the chance personally to explore things I wouldn’t necessarily have experienced had it not been for the interests of my colleagues.

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At the end of the day, we should always be striving to understand what works best for our respective company cultures. Free tailoring services, a myriad of always available puzzles, and yoga classes could each be valued differently by different sets of people. For me, it is important to send out surveys every quarter and collect data on what’s working and what’s not and why. Getting continuous feedback and input from the team is a surefire way for me to ensure that I always have the data needed to improve our current perks. What’s perfect for our current team of seventeen might not remain so as we grow — after all, at Magoosh, Change > Status Quo, and that applies to our perks as well. 🙂