7. Groundspeak

Location-based-technology adventure operator

BEST PERKS: Flex time, Community and environmental support, Swag
HIRING? Yes! groundspeak.com

Groundspeak’s mission is to inspire outdoor play using location-based devices. The goal of our products is to support, promote, and enhance activities that inspire people to get off the couch and explore the world around them. Groundspeak’s product portfolio includes the websites Geocaching.com, Waymarking.com, and Wherigo.com, as well as geocaching applications for three mobile platforms. Geocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure-hunting game played with GPS units and GPS-enabled smartphones. Players try to find hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online. Geocaching.com is the global headquarters for geocaching, with more than 1.4 million active geocaches currently listed on the site and over 5.5 million geocaching activity logs submitted per month. Groundspeak’s mobile applications link directly to the Geocaching.com database of geocaches and allow people to go geocaching anytime, anywhere in the world. Additional mobile applications and new location-based entertainment concepts are currently in development, and we are looking forward to sharing them with the world. 

Groundspeak employees are affectionately known within the global geocaching community as the Groundspeak Lackeys. We call ourselves lackeys because we are ready and willing to do almost anything to serve the growing community of more than five million outdoor enthusiasts and technophiles. It is a badge of honor that we wear with pride. We are a team of smart, funny, and hard-working individuals that enjoy working together and playing together. It is a culture of mutual respect with countless opportunities to get involved and make a difference both within the company and within the geocaching community. As Groundspeak Lackeys, we are treated very well, with a recognized best-of-class benefits program and tremendously positive working environment. We spend most of our time developing applications and features that make it easier and more enjoyable to search for geocaches, share location-based experiences online, and interact with other geocaching enthusiasts around the world.

In addition to an incredible benefits package consisting of full health, dental, and vision care for employees and families, employees receive perks like daily catered lunch, a well-stocked kitchen, flextime, free parking, and unlimited reimbursement for skiing and snowboarding lift tickets. An open-door policy allows employees to feel comfortable talking to anyone when they have a question or an issue. A Lackey council within the company plans monthly events that bring the whole team together, and every few weeks there’s a family lunch. Groundspeak has given annual bonuses to all employees in December during each of the past six years. Managers may also, at their discretion, award modest gift cards to employees for outstanding work or dedication. Groundspeak employees are allowed to check out GPS units at work and use them to go geocaching anytime. 

Groundspeak’s founders plan a holiday party each winter for employees and significant others. What’s unique about the holiday party is that the founders plan the entire party—none of the event-planning work is farmed out to employees. Employees feel appreciated because they see the founders rolling up their sleeves every year to do this. In addition to the holiday party, the founders plan a summer picnic each year. This is an opportunity for employees and their families to play together and celebrate some summer fun. Again, employees are not burdened with the planning of this event—the founders believe that this is an opportunity to recognize all of the hard work and dedication that employees bring to work every day.

Our Lackey Evolution Program awards employees throughout their time at Groundspeak by providing them with everything they need to get outside and go geocaching. Upon hire, employees are provided with a geocaching starter kit, including a GPS device. After one, two, and three years of service, Lackeys are provided with personalized Trackable items to encourage them to get outside and play. There are also opportunities for Lackeys to travel to geocaching events, both domestically and internationally, on behalf of the company. This enables them to engage with the geocaching community in a fun and unique way. 

Groundspeak believes that outdoor recreation is important for everyone. Aside from geocaching, a creative benefit that the founders developed involves the company paying for employee skiing and snowboarding lift tickets and passes. Groundspeak Lackeys can enjoy skiing or snowboarding anywhere, anytime, and the company will reimburse the lift tickets. In the winter, there are company weekend trips and transportation is organized to hit the local mountains. Groundspeak’s offices are located on the Burke-Gilman Trail, a well-known running and biking trail in Seattle. Many employees take advantage of this for daily walk or runs. Groundspeak provides breakfast and snack food, as well as delivered lunches three days each week. There are many healthy options available to employees. Throughout the month of November last year, the Groundspeak Wellness Committee chose four healthy options to highlight, one each week. Family-style servings of each food were prepared, as well as information about how to include it in a weekly eating plan and its nutritional value. There was also a Take the Stairs challenge. As part of our fitness initiative, we posted a chart on which employees could mark each flight of stairs they climbed. There were milestones to achieve to keep motivation high—e.g., this many flights equals the height of this famous building. At the end of each month, flights were tallied and trophies awarded to the three employees who climbed the most stairs. This challenge was run over two subsequent months. The success has been seen in how many people adopted the practice of taking the stairs even after the challenge concluded. A goal was also set as a company to walk across the country virtually. Employees were given a pedometer and asked to record individual mileage and report it to a central team. That teamed mapped progress across the country daily. The program was marketed internally, and the company managed to reach its goal three days before the end of the month.

Cache In Trash Out (CITO) is an ongoing environmental initiative supported by the worldwide geocaching community. Geocachers are encouraged to bring a trash bag while outside geocaching and to pick up trash along the trail. By helping to clean up the places where they play, employees can make a significant impact. CITO events are also featured on Geocaching.com and an annual Cache In Trash Out weekend promoted. At CITO events, a group of geocachers gather at a specific location at a specific time and work to clean up the area. They are fun events and help the geocaching community to help their local communities. The company also supports the nonprofit Donors Choose through financial contributions. Teachers, particularly those in low-income areas, post their classroom needs on DonorsChoose.org. Money is provided to classrooms looking for GPS devices or other materials that teach children location-based concepts. In addition, the company likes to support the local community. For the past two years, we have donated to the Family Fourth of July Celebration to make sure that Seattle would have fireworks. The company plans on continuing this tradition in the future. And finally, there is a Green Committee on our Lackey Council (like a student council but for employees) that organizes events such as the 2011 commuter challenge, to encourage employees walk, bike, and take the bus to work.

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