How to create an empathetic culture: 5 tips from Enboarder

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Growing at a rapid rate is an exciting time for any organization, but it doesn’t mean you can take your foot off the pedal when it comes to supporting your people.

As a start-up that raised $32 million in Series B funding and grew from 3 to 200 employees across four regions in just 7 years, Enboarder knows a thing or two about growing quickly and how to build an empathetic culture.

Sarah Gildea, Marketing and Content Manager at Circle In, and Laura Lee Gentry, Chief People Officer at Enboarder recently met to talk all things growth, support and opportunity.

1. Make culture your number one priority

It’s one thing to talk about culture but another to embed it in all facets of your organization. As a business centered around human connection, creating and continually enhancing a people-centric, values-based culture has been a priority at Enboarder since day one. In fact, culture is the number one priority of the executive leadership team.  “We think about our work and our priorities like a wheel with culture in the center,” Laura Lee says. 

Empowerment is core to the culture at Enboarder, where people are encouraged to bring their individual passions and ideas to the company roadmap. “We couldn’t create these incredible human connection experiences if we didn’t have them for our own people, right? Because remember, it’s our own people that are developing the code that is developing the product strategy,” she says.

For the Enboarder team, walking the talk is non-negotiable. Culture can’t just be some words on a page; it needs to be built into every plan, action, and interaction. Laura Lee also believes managers have a critical role when it comes to role modeling the culture on the day-to-day. “Every time an employee has a coaching session with their manager…I want the employee to walk away saying I just saw the culture in action,” she adds.

2. Encourage and act on feedback

When leaders are approachable and accessible, active feedback comes naturally. At Enboarder, it’s all about creating transparency and multi-directional feedback where individual contributors feel very confident and safe to share their insights and feedback with any level of leadership.

This includes:

> Opportunities for ad-hoc feedback

> Monthly all-hands meeting

> Annual all-hands meeting

> Annual employee surveys

> Engagement surveys

For Laura Lee, acting on the feedback is just as important as giving it. “Anytime we see those opportunities for growth and change, we take those head on, we think it’s really, really vital for our people if they provide feedback that they see us then take action against that,” she says.

3. Develop your managers

To support and develop their managers, Enboarder has designed two customized leadership programs for existing and aspiring managers. 

The first was built on the company values and how they translate into actions. Those actions form the basis of the monthly training modules.  For Laura Lee, this program is about:

  1. Giving managers practical tools to help them provide their teams with support in any situation.
  2. Showing newer managers, in particular, the importance of taking care of their people vs ticking off tasks.

The second program — again with company values at the core — is for aspiring leaders “to help them think about the shifts in mindset that need to happen for you to become an effective leader.” 

Combined with other tools like Circle In and an Employer Assistance Program, Enboarder works really hard to give its people leaders “the practical tools” they need to thrive as an empathetic leader.

“I tell a lot of Managers, this isn’t rocket science like you are a human being, all you have to do is show up as a human being. And guess what, you’ve got the DNA for that,” says Laura Lee.


4. Offer flexibility

Enboarder recruits remotely and offers hybrid working opportunities to ensure they don’t miss out on great talent.  This includes allowing their employees to work flexibly and not dictating when they come into the office.

As Laura Lee says, “we trust and respect them to get their work done, we don’t have to be watching them get their work done”. This doesn’t mean they don’t value in-person interaction, collaboration, and innovation, they just let teams decide what works best for them.   

Laura Lee also sees the value in creating enticing opportunities for people when they do come into the office. She will often time key 1:1 meetings and cross-functional meetings with the “fun factor” like Taco Tuesday.

5. Prioritize self-care

When a business is scaling at a rapid pace, it’s even more important to honor self-care as a way of staying focused on the critical path ahead and carving out a healthy work/life balance. For the Enboarder team to forge a clearer route, it’s about creating some “white space” – time to think and germinate ideas. As Laura Lee says, “you need to give yourself the time to unlock new ways of thinking.”  

Another part of this is self-care – be it walking the dog, yoga, or meditation. “Whatever it is that will allow you to be your best self and be guiltless about it,” Laura Lee emphasizes.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can support your employees, click here to talk to us today.

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