Most Used Special Interest Groups

Not only does allowing employees to bring their outside interests into the workplace create community and foster a sense of belonging, but it can also spark entrepreneurial opportunities. The first step is to hold an open meeting to identify employees’ various passions and interests. Popular strategies include:

Google’s 80-20 Rule

Google’s 80-20 rule policy lets employees spend 80% of their time working and 20% investing in a side project. This innovative way of thinking has sealed Google’s reputation as one of the world’s most innovative companies. Gmail, Google Maps, Twitter, Slack, and Groupon all began as side projects.


A popular initiative on company retreats, Hackathons involve dividing a company into 4 groups, giving them a week to come up with a concept and then develop and present it. This approach builds camaraderie and creativity amongst team members and often gives rise to a new company product or system.  

Side projects

While developing side projects is always energizing for employees, results aren’t always realistic for SMB’s to incorporate into the workplace. A more achievable objective might be to call for an open pitch to create an Employee Resource Group.

Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” Circles

Women can feel particularly alienated in the workplace. Facebook CEO and author Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” circles allow women to gather and connect on important issues like workplace bias and other barriers. Any sized company can start a circle. And circles have the added benefit of encouraging women to develop and flex leadership muscles and join Lean in’s global network of 50,000 circles in over 184 different countries. 


Everis Foundation

The Everis Foundation lets employees explore initiatives without having to leave the company. Their website squarely lists its employees as the company’s most valuable resource. Nurturing the passions and outside interests of their employees is a given for Everis because the success of the company relies on the health and well-being of its people. 



“The expert in anything was once a beginner.”

— Helen Hayes

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