ROI on Corporate Wellness Programs

The ROI On Corporate Wellness Programs  

Employee illness results in sick days and productivity loss that costs U.S. companies in excess of $227 billion every year. That’s a massive blow to any company’s bottom line, and the figure doesn’t even take into account diminished employee output caused by wellness-related concerns.

The health of your workforce ultimately helps determine the health of your company. Protect that investment by instituting a corporate wellness program that promises to pay off some surprising dividends.

Getting Your Staff Moving

Exercise works. More importantly, employees who exercise work better for longer and their output increases in quality. How can you inspire employees to move more? It’s easy:

  • Obtain discounted or free memberships to gyms, yoga and Pilates studios, and CrossFit programs
  • Install a gym on site
  • Form company teams and compete in a marathon or mud run
  • Offer standing desks as an alternative

Unsurprisingly, exercise programs are more effective when they’re instituted from the top down. Employees are less self-conscious about setting aside time for exercise if they see their CEO doing the same.

Programs that take family into account only serve to increase ROI. Parents are more likely to attend regular gym classes if the facility has on-site child care and company field days or sponsored 5Ks with activities for their children, which allow everyone to get involved.

Committing to Better Nutrition

There’s a bit of stigma attached to office treats and working lunches. Traditionally, break rooms are far more likely to be stocked with leftover birthday cake and Monday-morning donuts than veggie wraps and fresh fruit, and that’s a problem. Healthy eating in the workplace has a positive effect on both mental and physical fitness, playing a part in:

  • Reducing the risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease and some types of cancer
  • Reducing anxiety and assisting in stress management
  • Improving mood, boosting energy, and contributing to better self-esteem

Companies can support their workers’ dietary goals and contribute to increased productivity in the process by re-evaluating menu options in the corporate dining room or having regularly catered lunches with heart-healthy, balanced, and (above all) delicious dishes that provide plenty of nutrients.

Not only do healthy catered lunches help combat the typical mid-afternoon productivity slump and promote long-term wellness, having food available in the office means that employees don’t have to venture out of the building for sustenance. Whether it’s a breakfast buffet in the conference room or fresh, just-delivered family-style meals served during a late-night paperwork push, it’s easier for employees to remain focused, available, and on task when they’re not hungry and tired.

Setting Up a Rewards Program

Even when employee wellness programs promise positive returns, it can take some incentives to get everyone on board. Those incentives often come in the form of rewards programs that recognize and compensate those who decide to embrace wellness in the workplace, such as:

  • Verbal or written praise from management
  • Paid time off
  • Gift cards
  • A bonus or other monetary prize based on milestones (days of healthy eating, weight loss, exercise classes attended at the corporate gym)
  • Tangible rewards such as electronics, branded swag or an engraved plaque
  • Group rewards like a new juice machine for the cafeteria

The benefits of corporate wellness programs are as abundant as they are varied, but one thing is certain: They work. A Chapman Institute review of 42 corporate wellness studies found that those plans lead to an impressive 25 percent reduction in employee absences and sick leave. How’s that for ROI?

Sources

Supporting Diversity and Immigration

Yesterday I sent the following email to the company:

Team, 

We saw history this week with the president enacting an executive order to ban the entry of people from seven Muslim-majority nations (even people with valid visas).

Yesterday a federal judge in Brooklyn granted a temporary injunction blocking the executive order.  

This order amounts to a ban on Muslims entering the country and is, therefore, unconstitutional. The order will be vigorously challenged in court in an action brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.

I’ve made a donation to the ACLU, but want to encourage everyone who feels strongly about their civil liberties to do the same, so I will be matching up to $1000 of my personal money for anyone who contributes. Just email me your donation receipt.

-Arram

No matter your political affiliation, we are a nation of immigrants, at our core is a community built by people from all nations.

America has a unique place in history as an experiment in government by the people. Dark times like these are, in Lincoln’s words, “testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.” As a government of the people, it’s the responsibility of the people to watch and hold their leaders accountable. Failure to do this could mean the loss of something very precious and not easily replaced.

At 241 America is still a young country. Let’s see our experiment through and support the spirit of tolerance and multiculturalism by which it was founded.

If you feel similarly, please consider donating to the American Civil Liberties Union,

“Around The World” Themed Office Party

How To Throw An “Around The World”-Themed Office Party

Many people are fascinated to discover how cultural traditions have evolved, with traditions from country to country being especially diverse. Turning your annual lunch service gathering or office party into a sensory tour of the globe is a great way to inspire, educate, and help employees connect with cultures other than their own. Plus, the international theme will be a welcome departure from yet another cookie-decorating party or lifeless gift exchange, and who can’t get behind that idea?

Here’s how you can use corporate catering services and a little DIY ingenuity to make some office party magic.

Decorations

  • Czech Republic: Place cherry branches in tall, water-filled vases. According to Czech tradition, the blooming of these branches before certain holidays is a sign of good luck.
  • Scandinavia: Children are supposed to leave their shoes on the hearth for St. Nick to fill with gold coins or small gifts. Ask guests to bring a pair of new shoes to your party; you can line them up during the festivities and donate them to a shelter afterward.
  • China: The Chinese version of a Christmas tree is called a tree of light. Lay out materials for guests to personalize miniature lanterns so the tree is completed—with tons of character—as the party progresses.

Food

  • Argentina: Barbecue is a holiday tradition here—try steak on a crostini with a dab of chimichurri sauce.
  • Mexico: Whether bite-sized or served buffet style, it’s all about the tamales.
  • Ukraine: Ukrainians prepare a 12-course meal, but you might want to ask a meal-delivery service to bring you and your co-workers a dozen delicious dishes instead.

Dessert

  • India: Mango and banana with spiced coconut cream. It’s an homage to the mango and banana trees, which are used in place of pine trees to celebrate Christmas.
  • The Netherlands: During some holidays children are brought wooden shoes filled with candy and cookies, but you can just hand them out as dessert.
  • Great Britain: Plum pudding may be from the Middle Ages, but it’s still tasty today. The old-school version is made with suet, spices, nuts and raisins, and served with plenty of cream.

Drinks

  • Mexico and Central America: Swap out mulled wine for atole, a hot drink thickened with masa and seasoned with cinnamon, vanilla, and brown sugar.
  • United States: Eggnog dates back to the Jamestown settlement in 1607, when Virginia was a colony. Salute Capt. John Smith with two versions—one with plenty of rum and one without.
  • Ghana: The cocoa bean is a popular crop in some parts of Africa, including Ghana. Jazz up your breakfast meal with a DIY cocoa bar with plenty of fun and interesting mix-ins such as marshmallows, chilies, peppermint sticks, and espresso powder.

Entertainment

  • Ireland: Take inspiration from the traditional Wren Boys Procession and have guests dress up in homemade costumes and perform in a talent show.
  • General: Santa has different names and different outfits in many a country. Print out pictures of St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas and friends, and have guests match the name to the country and illustration.
  • General: Set up aJeopardy­-style quiz game that tests guests on different cultural traditions—all the answers will be right there in the room.

Whether you’re throwing a full-on corporate gala or a simple breakfast or one-off event, your team deserve something new and different. An around-the-world party with on-demand meals from your catering services provider is the perfect way to bring everybody together while also celebrating what makes us special.

How Company Meals Boost Your Bottom Line

Four Ways Company Meals Boost Your Bottom Line  

Hardly a Monday-morning meeting goes by without the grumble of a hungry stomach or the restless shifting of tired people. We’re all busy: This often leads to skipping meals—including the all-important breakfast—or eating some shrink-wrapped monstrosity that’s more about convenience than nutrition.

The problem with subpar diets in the workplace is that they have consequences that extend far beyond one employee’s unhappy belly. From combating fatigue to boosting brainpower, there are many benefits to bringing healthy catered meals into your office—not the least of which is improving your company’s bottom line and finding mouthwatering ways to increase profit.

  1. Boost Morale, Bite by Bite

When asked what their employers could do to make them feel more engaged, more than 50 percent of people surveyed said it’s all about recognition.

Something as simple as bringing in a catered lunch once a week shows employees that you value them as people. They need to eat and you want to feed them. It’s a nurturing instinct as old as time, except now you can have someone else do the messy cooking part.

  1. Improve Profitability and Productivity

It’s impossible to concentrate when you’re hungry, but trying to fuel your body with vending machine snacks isn’t a stellar move, either. The same goes for your staff. There’s a proven mind-gut connection that showcases how important good nutrition is to cognitive function. Start the day right by supplying your workforce with a balanced, protein-rich breakfast. Or, help employees push through a late-night deadline by bringing in on-demand catering featuring the best grub from local eateries.

  1. Healthier Living Overall
    When you lose a salaried employee for a few days due to illness, you’re stuck with a depleted workforce or a bill for a temp. Either way, you can expect both your labor costs and your office wide output to suffer. Helping your staff eat healthier inspires an overall shift toward a more balanced lifestyle. You can bring in a yoga teacher to lead morning stretch classes or install a company gym, but unless you also provide a way for everyone to infuse their body with high-quality, delicious food, all those workouts will be undone by happy-hour binges and stale coffee cake in the break room.
  1. Keep Employees on Task and Engaged

What does an hour lunch break really cost a company? In addition to the hour away from their desk, employees likely lose work time leading up to lunch as they anticipate the break and decide where they want to eat. There’s more downtime as they settle back into their workspace and try to return to their routine. Calls are missed, concentration is broken, and who knows what fast food was consumed in the meantime.

Providing lunch catering or meeting snacks for your employees isn’t about keeping them under lock in key. Much the opposite, in fact. Set up the conference room with a delicious pasta buffet or gourmet sandwiches, and you’ve created an atmosphere suited for brainstorming and building camaraderie. Instead of scattering for an hour, people have somewhere to sit, talk, and—perhaps most importantly—eat some amazing food that is fresh, full of flavor, and beneficial for their brains and bodies.

Sources

https://www.tinypulse.com/blog/sk-employee-recognition-statshttp://www.forbes.com/sites/jennifercohen/2015/02/05/12-best-foods-to-boost-brain-power/#7c13085d1310,

https://zerocater.com/on-demand-catering

https://zerocater.com/lunch-catering

Unique & Creative Menu Ideas For A Company Holiday Party

Unique Menu Ideas For A Company Holiday Party

Some people look forward to the office holiday party all year, only to arrive on the big day and discover limp Caesar salad and a chafing dish full of meatballs and mashed potatoes. Comfort food can be delicious, but the best parties will offer creative and delicious eats.

Ditch your traditional holiday party menu and check out these festive new menu ideas that’ll make your bash a truly memorable event.

A Holiday Tribute to Tapas

Tapas are small dishes traditionally served in Spanish bars. You don’t have to stick to Spanish food to do a holiday tapas tribute. Instead, focus on appetizer portions that pack big flavors.

The Summer-Meats-Winter Spread

Baby, it’s cold outside. Really, really cold! Treat your team to a tailgate themed meal in the dead of winter with hot dogs, brats, and coleslaw. Turn up the heat and ward off the December chill with a Caribbean style office lunch that will make people think of the beach, even if the ground is covered in buckets of snow.

Perfect Pairings

If your HR department is OK with office Christmas party ideas that involve a little alcohol, consider elevating the event with some thoughtful wine pairings. Set up several stations, each featuring a different dish (a carving station with roast beef and turkey, a pasta station, a table with chilled seafood and sauces) and a complementary wine. Guests can hop from area to area, seeing how their pinot noir brings out the sweetness in the cherry-glazed duck egg rolls, and you’ve managed to combine entertainment and a memorable menu.

Brunch Bites

Evenings during the holiday season can be tricky for families who have other obligations or who don’t have a regular babysitter. Opt for brunch instead and you can offer childcare in one room while the adults nosh on bagels and lox, potato pancakes and mini club sandwiches. Fresh-squeezed juice and coffee are must-haves; mimosas and Bellini’s are bonuses.

Dinner and a Movie

There are so many classic Holiday movies that we all know and love. Pump up the nostalgia at your holiday office party by putting together a menu full of movie-inspired recipes like:

  • Banoffee pie — Love Actually
  • Spaghetti (without the maple syrup!) — Elf
  • Macaroni and cheese — Home Alone
  • Christmas pudding — A Christmas Carol
  • Mulled wine — It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Peking duck —A Christmas Story
  • Hot chocolate — Polar Express
  • Roast beef — How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Feel free to make gourmet versions of those classic treats or make up your own movie-inspired.
Not all your corporate holiday party ideas have to break the bank, but you may be surprised at how much mileage you get out of an interesting menu.

Happy holidays!

10 Reasons To Host A Holiday Office Party

10 Reasons To Host A Holiday Office Party

If you own a business, throwing a holiday office party should be a yearly standard offering. Surprised to hear it? While it may seem like a holiday bash is a frivolous use of company money, that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are plenty of ways to honor both your budget and your employees’ desire to cut loose.

Here are 10 reasons why hosting a holiday office party makes sense:

  1. Familiarity Is Stress-Free Fun

Off-site venues present all kinds of potential problems. Where will everyone park? Is it handicap accessible? How about family-friendly? Is it centrally located? Keeping your holiday party at the office eliminates those wild cards and gives guests a comfortable setting in which to start their after-hour festivities.

  1. People Are More Likely to Attend

Employees who might find a strange or out-of-the-way location daunting won’t have the same hesitation about showing up for a party that’s being held in a spot in which they’re accustomed.

  1. The Rental Fee is Really Reasonable

You’ve already paid rent (or the monthly mortgage) for your office space, so why not put it to good use? The less you pay for an off-site venue, the more money you’ll have in your party budget for important things like food and a full-service bar.

  1. It Never Hurts to Network

Everyone is in a comfortable setting, the budget is under control, and you’ve used all the holiday office party ideas on the Internet to create a killer atmosphere. Now what? It’s the perfect opportunity for all your guests to mingle and chat, something that might be harder to do in a loud restaurant or distracting event space.

  1. It’s a Chance to Show Off Your Brand

Your employees already know about your company’s community service efforts and they see the evidence of your graphic design team’s awesome talents every day, but their plus ones don’t. Open your home base to new faces and you’re throwing a party that doubles as a subtle promotional event (emphasis on the word subtle).

  1. Reframing the Workspace Can Work Wonders

Few people are immune from an occasional case of the Mondays. No matter how cool your office is, working in the same cubicle with the same fluorescent light day after day can be draining. Turning those bland rooms into a stunning space draped in rich-colored fabrics, brightly decorated trees and plenty of snow-dusted garland lets them see the office in a new light—literally.

  1. You Can Choose Your Own Caterer

Whereas off-site event spaces often have binding contracts with designated caterers or mandate that all bookings use their own on-site cooking crew, using your own office space means you’re free to select the best caterer for your needs.

  1. You Won’t Have to Run Yourself Ragged

An off-site party means you’ll have to drive back and forth to the venue to attend planning sessions, help with setup and breakdown, supervise the third-party vendors, and so on. When your party is taking place just down the hall, you can oversee things without neglecting your other duties.

  1. A Big Bash Will Boost Morale

Want to lift everyone’s spirits after a rough year or get them revved up for the next one? They’ll get to see their supervisors as people, not just managers; and learning more about the people you work with is always a good idea.

  1. Your Employees Have Earned It!

Your hard-working staff is the reason your business keeps humming month after month, year after year. The least you can do—besides remembering to hand out their paycheck, of course—is treat them to a photo booth, a few cocktails and some really delicious food.

The Importance of Eating Breakfast for Improved Productivity

Morning Meal’s Impact On Productivity  

Is there any truth to the claim that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? The simple answer is yes, eating first thing in the morning comes with many benefits. The word itself tells you everything you need to know—it translates to:  breaking your fast. A lot goes on when you sleep; your body spends that time rejuvenating after a long day of mental and physical activity—and it does it all without any new fuel.

The importance of eating breakfast goes beyond eating just anything. What you eat matters just as much as when you eat it. Consider some facts you might not know about that critical first meal.

What Are the Benefits of Breakfast?

Eating breakfast improves concentration and memory throughout the day. Studies show that children and adolescents who eat a healthy breakfast are more proficient at problem solving and tend to have better eye-hand coordination. So why should it end in elementary school?

Breakfast provides those same benefits to adults on their way to work, but the perks go further than a boost in brain power. There is evidence that eating breakfast helps control hunger, so you are less likely to binge during lunch or dinner. The Mayo Clinic reports that people who take time for breakfast:

  • Get more of the recommended vitamins and minerals
  • Manage weight better
  • Stick to a low-fat diet
  • Have lower cholesterol levels

A balanced breakfast refuels the body by restoring glycogen, so you have more energy when you need it. The keyword here, though, is balanced.

 What Is a Balanced Breakfast?
A great foundation for a filling breakfast has whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. What you don’t see on that list is sugary donuts, processed cereals or high fat breakfast meats.

Protein takes the longest for your body to digest, so it helps control your appetite for hours. Protein-packed eggs are a practical choice for a morning meal. Tack on good fats found in avocados over a whole-wheat English muffin, and you have a winning breakfast combo.

If cereal is one of your easy breakfast options, then focus on low sugar and high fiber offerings. Choose a cereal with at least three grams of fiber, low sugar, and around 160 calories.

Getting Serious About Breakfast

Who says that all sit-down events have to focus on dinner or that every business meal has to be a lunch? As healthcare reform shifts to wellness and prevention, businesses are seeing breakfast in a whole new light. Options like a breakfast catering service are becoming more common for consumers and businesses alike.

Adding a breakfast catering service to employee benefits could pay for itself in lower health insurance costs, fewer sick days, and better on-job performance.

Is a balanced lifestyle all about breakfast? No, but it’s a good place to start. What you eat in the morning can set your mood for your entire day, so why would you consider skipping it?

Sources

Stuck in the Happy Hour Rut? 5 Tips for Effective Team Bonding Activities

When planning team bonding activities, it’s easy to get stuck in the same old happy hour rut. The Friday happy hour is fun, but after months of doing the same thing, they stop having the same effect.

Creating opportunities for employees to connect outside of their regular job function is essential to maintaining a collaborative and supportive culture. That said, bringing together people — with different interests, personalities, and schedules — to “bond” is a tough, tough job.

The following guidelines are designed to help you create effective team bonding activities while relieving some of the inevitable headache involved!

 1) Divide and conquer

If I were in charge for planning all of our team bonding events at CultureIQ, we’d have a picnic every month. While I love picnics, they aren’t for everyone… every month. When the planning responsibility falls on one person, you’re more likely to do the same thing over and over again.

Instead, rotate the responsibility of planning company activities amongst task forces. This has a few key benefits: 1) the very act of planning an event together is a bonding opportunity; 2) it will result in a wide variety of experiences; and 3) the work and stress won’t fall on one person each time.

2) Shake up the silos

Your sales team knows each other plenty well. They travel together, sit together, eat together. But how well does Claudia in sales know Jim in operations? Probably not that well.

Team-building events are an opportunity to bring together individuals that don’t get to interact on a regular basis. However, when placed in an open room, people tend to gravitate to what’s comfortable, so cross-team socialization doesn’t always happen naturally.

To shake up those silos, plan events that deliberately group together individuals from different functions and departments. At CultureIQ, we hosted “The Culture Games,” during which cross-functional teams competed against each other in a series of competitive bar games (ping pong, shuffle board, etc.).

Other activities that are conducive to cross-functional bonding are bowling, trivia, lawn games, or anything with a healthy dose of competition!

3) Root it in your values

There is a difference between having values and living by your values, and many companies struggle to do the latter effectively. Using your values as inspiration for your team-building events is a great way to organically bake them into your culture.

For example, one of Whole Foods’ core values is “We Serve and Support Our Local and Global Communities,” so the company encourages employees to volunteer together — on a local level and a global level! This is a great way for teammates to live by their company values and to connect outside of their job functions.

One of the CultureIQ values is to “celebrate and enjoy the journey.” In honor of this value, a lot of our team activities are centered around celebrating wins — big and small — along the way. As an example, we had a ribbon cutting ceremony and champagne toast to launch our new brand at the beginning of the year.

Look at your values through a new lens, and get creative with incorporating them into your team bonding opportunities.

4) Ditch the “go big or go home” mentality

There’s no need to “go big” with every team building event. If that’s your mentality, then you’ll limit yourself in what you can do. You’ll have a lot more flexibility if you embrace the fact that not everyone likes to do everything.

One option is to empower employees to create smaller, interest-focused activities to get people together. Running club? Sure! Video game club? Why not!

Another idea is to break the company into small groups of five to ten individuals, and let them plan their own activity or event.

Smaller events can feel less intimidating to some of the shyer team members, and it also means that you aren’t waiting for everyone to get together for people to bond.

5) When in doubt, just ask!

At the end of the day, team bonding activities are for your employees. If you don’t have a good read on what the team wants to do (or even if you do), take the guesswork out of it and ask them! Send a survey with a few options, and go with the winner. This step will reduce any grumbling and increase buy-in from employees. Take it one step further, and collect feedback after the event to help you plan the next one!

Jamie Nichol

Jamie is the Head of Community at CultureIQ, a platform that helps companies strengthen their culture. Jamie brings people, companies, and ideas together to collaborate around company culture. Sign up to receive updates about community events and opportunities here, or feel free to shoot her an email at jamie@cultureiq.com.

How to get the most variety from ZeroCater

One of the top requests we receive from clients is variety. Employees love when there’s something new on the menu: a restaurant they’ve never visited, a cuisine they’ve never sampled, or a new dish from a favorite vendor.

So therein lies the question: “How can I get the most variety from ZeroCater and their network of vendors?”

Although the ZeroCater vendor network varies city to city, one word accurately depicts the vendor pool across all markets: elastic. The roster of restaurants, food trucks, private chefs, and caterers ZeroCater partners with is constantly evolving. Our vendor team scours the food scene in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Chicago, Austin, DC, and Los Angeles to bring new, exciting meals to your office.

Understanding ZeroCater’s ever-changing vendor network

The longer you partner with ZeroCater, the more vendors you will sample. In the past year alone, ZeroCater has added 202 new vendors to our platform.

City Vendors added from 2015-2016
San Francisco 60
New York City 65
Chicago 20
Washington, DC 35
Austin 22
Total 202

Just as the vendor network is constantly growing, so are the number of cuisine types. This means more local, authentic, and diverse meals for your team to try and enjoy. ZeroCater offers at least eleven cuisine types in each U.S. city—and up to forty-nine in San Francisco!

How to access the most vendors in your network

ZeroCater views each vendor partner as just that—a partner. For this reason, ZeroCater works with each vendor to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship. A vendor might not be available for delivery to your office due to:

  • Headcount: Each vendor sets their own order minimums
  • Location: Each vendor sets their own delivery zones
  • Budget: Rising food costs, a higher minimum wage, cooking in small batches, and increase in rent prices have tightened restaurants’ profits across the country. Therefore, menu prices may rise to guarantee profitability for the vendor.

By increasing your budget by just $1 per person, your lunch options multiply, because more vendors will benefit from the order. Just look at how vendor options expand (as budget increases) for clients in Chicago.

Tips for gaining the most variety for your team

Just as restaurant owners have a budget to stick to, so do you. Knowing when to save and when to splurge can help maximize your mealtime budget. Here are a few tips on making that extra dollar stretch:

  • Save for special occasions: Office birthdays, new hire welcome parties, and work-iversarys can be celebrated without a full meal. Try bagels, cupcakes, or pastries (a great way to sample dessert vendors!)
  • Splurge on the holidays: ZeroCater works with vendors to create specialty holiday menu items. Why not hold out for that spooky, graveyard themed cake at Halloween?
  • Save on Mondays: Meatless Monday. Light Monday. Get-back-in-gear Monday. Start the week off right with a light meal, perhaps by sampling a vegetarian (or even vegan) vendor.
  • Splurge on Wednesdays: Does your team need a jolt of motivation to get through the week? Choose Wednesday as your day to splurge, and give them a meal worth remembering.
  • Save over brunch: Breakfast menus are typically offered at a lower price point than lunch or dinner. Why not swap a breakfast vendor into your weekly routine?
  • Splurge at dinner: If your team is pulling an all-nighter at the office, this is the time to thank them—and thank them big. Use this as an excuse to try a vendor you’ve never tried before!

Getting the most out of lunch time

ZeroCater only partners with locally-owned restaurants, which means you support small businesses through each and every meal. You also receive the variety, quality, and customer service you may not see from a large, national chain.

We want you to sample as many ZeroCater vendors as you possibly can. For more advice on how to gain the most variety at lunchtime, speak to your dedicated Client Success Representative to see what new vendors to try next.

 

How team dinner helps fuel x.ai’s rapid growth

Within the startup space, late nights at the office are not uncommon—some might call them expected. Deadlines to meet the next product release, API, or app upgrade will spur long hours well outside the nine to five.

x.ai is one such company. Their product, a virtual personal assistant named Amy, schedules meetings for entrepreneurs, journalists, and salespeople alike. They’ve expanded their workforce by 300 percent in the past year alone and recently secured a funding round of $23 Million. Through their rapid growth, they’ve worked hard to keep their tight-knit culture intact.

Wednesday Night Dinner: Fueling a team for their next release

From a product perspective, x.ai works in a fast, emerging space. Working in virtual assistance has placed x.ai in the same conversations as Microsoft, Google, and Apple. While each member will tell you it’s an exciting space to be a part of, it also comes with lots of hard work and dedication.

“Our product is very high-tech, and we’re doing all we can to be a first mover in the space,” says Brian, Director of Customer Acquisition. “Wednesday always seems to be the deadline for our next update, so we instated Wednesday night dinners. Our favorite meals are either Korilla BBQ or Dos Toros.”

Creating a culture that can expand with your team

In the thirteen months since Brian has come aboard, a team of eighteen has grown to over fifty. While Wednesdays are known for tight deadlines, it’s also a time for employees to meet their newest team members.

“Wednesday evening is our time to talk to new hires,” says Brian. “We order through ZeroCater, and everyone takes the time to step away from their desks. Everyone is great about making introductions. Through Wednesday night dinners, sharing stories and photos via Slack, and other group activities; we’ve maintained that collaborative—albeit busy—team environment.”

Maintaining a work-life balance: Staying motivated in a fast-paced environment

To facilitate a fun, hard-working culture, founders of x.ai promote a work-life balance in the office. “We are an ambitious company run by adults—many who have families of their own. We are really focused on collaboration, helping each other, and being humane about life outside of work. Senior leadership understands there’s a balance between working hard, and stepping away at 4PM because you need to hit the gym,” says Brian.

The team has found a way to balance work, play, and life outside work. Coworkers organized a March Madness bracket, there’s an office soccer league, and even an employee ski trip. After each milestone or release, the team celebrates together—one way or another.