How 3 NYC tech companies use organized clubs to bring employees together

by Liz Warren
April 26, 2018

Work doesn’t always have to be just about work. When you mix in an element of play, there’s a shared sense of camaraderie that ultimately means happier employees — and better productivity. From women’s groups to rock climbing teams, these companies organize activities that help everyone feel more like friends than coworkers.


image via merrill


Merrill Corporation employees take tech seriously — so seriously that even after the work day ends, a group of women continue to meet and talk shop. Director of Platform Services Peg Mickelson, who has been with the company for 20 years, founded the Women in Tech (WIT) group at the fintech company. She told us about the group’s mission.  


What are some groups or clubs employees participate in?

I founded WIT, which connects women and our allies with networking and development opportunities, support women in all stages of their careers and highlights the amazing talent and work of women at Merrill. Our meetings often include guest speakers who share their experiences in technology or leadership. Other WIT-sponsored events include game hours, social gatherings and volunteer events. This year, we’re hosting a “girls in tech” event for Merrill employees and the young women in our lives.  


How does the group help you succeed at work?

We meet regularly to network and share information. We start each meeting with a question of the day and ask each person to respond. Some questions are reflective, like “Name a woman in your life who has inspired you” and others are more playful, like “Name your favorite Prince song and why” (we got great answers to that one). WIT reminds us that we’re fabulous, that we are doing great things and most importantly that we can take on any challenge with the WIT community cheering us on.



image via call9


Call9 is a service that provides emergency care to nursing home patients. When they’re not using technology to save lives and eliminate unnecessary trips to the emergency room, employees have each other’s backs — literally. Software engineer Lilly Shen told us all about the rock climbing group that’s building bonds within the company.


What are some groups or clubs employees participate in?

When I came to Call9, many of the engineers were already rock climbing at a local gym. They brought me to Brooklyn Boulders, and I immediately fell back in love with climbing. I wanted to make it easier for everyone to be looped in when people are headed to the gym, so I started a Slack channel called #ascent. The channel also allows newcomers to schedule a time to go climbing with everyone else.

How does this group help you succeed at work?

Rock climbing helps build problem-solving skills and mutual trust. We literally put our lives in each other’s hands when we belay one another. Sometimes we work on bouldering problems as a group. We share strategies and give each other pointers, which is great because most of us don’t have any formal training. It’s both competitive and collaborative. We look after each other when climbing, which transfers over to work in that we've always got each others' backs.

What’s one group or club you wish you could start at your company?

I wish we had a tea club because sometimes I feel like Mariah Carey at New Year’s.



Image via groundtruth


Employees at global technology platform GroundTruth work hard and play hard. The startup provides Fortune 100 companies with location data on their customers, and there’s a lot that happens behind the scenes. HR generalist Leah Press told us what employees are up to when they’re not working.

What are some groups or clubs employees participate in?

Building a culture everyone connects to and feels a part of is the goal of GroundTruth's global culture committee. This employee-led group believes positive interactions and shared moments stimulate success and growth. Some activities we run are the “Real Talk Speaker Series,” a mentorship program and social events like volunteer days, annual ping-pong championships and theme days.

How does this group help you succeed at work?

The programs create a collaborative environment where people help and support one another. Teamwork, fun and positive relationships become the elements that unite us across different departments spanning 15 offices around the globe. We believe that the stronger the relationships and more positive sentiment we feel toward our organization, the stronger our motivation and the better our output becomes. By being involved, I have the opportunity to interact with different people in the organization who I wouldn’t normally partner with. Together, we can initiate programs that bring value to the organization and make GroundTruth a great place to work.

What’s one group or club you wish you could start at your company?

A program I’d love to see is an employee-led master class series. My background is in learning and development, so I believe in the power of learning and growth. If we can encourage employees to teach classes on topics and things they are passionate about, we can learn about each other and give people the platform to teach their peers something new. It gives everyone a chance to be curious, to be an expert and to share knowledge. Some examples might include mixology classes, workout classes, language lessons or computer design workshops.


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