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How Limeade, The Seattle-Based Employee Experience Company, Is Finding Its Groove During COVID-19

This story originally appeared in Forbes by Micah Solomon

Micah Solomon, Senior Contributor, Forbes; Seattle-based Customer Experience Consultant and Subject Matter Expert (SME): Give me a little background on Limeade. The name’s a blank canvas, and I don’t think everyone knows what you do.  

Henry Albrecht, Founder and CEO, LimeadeWe’re a software company focused on the employee experience and infusing what we call “whole person, whole company, whole ecosystem care” into that experience.  We started the company about 14 years ago with the mission to improve wellbeing in the world.

Solomon: Just out of the blue?

Albrecht: Well, no. It all started when I landed what looked like my dream job. My wife and kids and I pulled up our stakes and moved to Seattle so I could become VP of Product at a growing tech company, where it looked like I’d have opportunity to build something really cool, surrounded by smart people.

It was all good…until it wasn’t. I found myself working within a culture that didn’t build but destroyed trust. One day I found myself looking into a gray, foggy mirror, and I didn’t recognize myself. Where was the joy? What was the point?

So I thought back to last time I felt inspired. Full of purpose. In the game. It was one job prior, at Intuit, the maker of consumer products like QuickBooks and TurboTax, where I saw a great leader and a great culture up close. And where we invented and defined the market.

And I thought, “Why can’t there be a great company that does for human well-being what Intuit software does for financial health, aligning what’s good for people and what’s good for business toward a common mission?”

Solomon: So how does Limeade’s software help a company treat its employees better and nurture its culture?

Albrecht: Limeade provides a mobile-first global experience for every employee in a company, even the most hard-to-reach frontline workers. Everything is in-app, and can include a welcome video from the CEO and other help in getting onboarded people into the culture of the company. There are surveys and assessments that are statistically valid and science-based assessments of things like wellbeing, employee engagement and inclusion.

Most importantly, those assessments drive action. As an employee, if I am showing a level of stress, I will be entered into an exercise challenge or I can decide to pursue resilience through mindfulness training or I will work with my manager in more specific ways to define my role more clearly. All of those actions are driven via a machine learning based recommendation system.

Solomon: With so many of us working from home, has this affected the way companies are using Limeade?

Albrecht: We’ve seen a major increase in the participation levels now that  the old water cooler conversations are no more. While Zoom and Microsoft Teams and other similar resources have come into the fore in this era, although they’re great technologies they’re not intentional about what they’re trying to accomplish in terms of showing care for employees. So we’re here to add that extra layer of care.

Solomon: Other that increased overall participation, can you share a little more of what you’re seeing or hearing from clients using your product during these unique times? 

Albrecht: In relation to our product, one large technology company that’s a client of ours shared recently, “We’ve never seen this much interest in emotional well-being. We view ourselves as ‘first responders’ to our own employees right now.” So, while the past few months have been hard for all of us, showing care for each other will be one of the silver linings we will always remember.

We’ve also heard inspiring stories about how organizations are acclimating to the new working environment. For example, one healthcare customer of ours said, “We are literally changing nursing protocols almost daily to adapt to new COVID-19 data. It helps to have daily information that everyone can see on their phone and put into action on the next patient they see.” It’s encouraging to see that organizations have been able to quickly pivot and utilize technology to provide care for customers–whether they be patients or otherwise.

Aside from use of our product, one thing that’s striking across the board is that each of us has been given a greater opportunity to learn more about our coworkers and their lives outside of work than we had in the office. With all of us working from our homes with kids, pets and art in the background, we’ve gotten to know clients and colleagues on a more personal level and have seen who they are outside of work. While we’ve certainly built deeper connections, we’ve collected some funny stories, as well. For example, one large financial services company leader said, “I’ve literally never seen our CEO without a suit and tie on. I didn’t know he owned a polo shirt. I can never unsee that–and I mean that in a good way.”

Solomon: What is the biggest barrier to aligning what’s good for people and business? 

Albrecht: The big-company world is so siloed, and those silos are so entrenched, that trying to work on things like employee engagement, inclusion, well-being, learning and growth, all the real culture-building stuff, is challenging. You might have 15 VPs working toward the same end goals and with the same values, but with an uncoordinated mishmash of technologies with different tones and languages. To have a strong culture, you need a common language everyone can speak. And that’s where I like to think you’ll find Limeade