Expectations for workplace culture changed dramatically during COVID-19. Organizations began to realize that they needed to start taking care of their employees' overall well-being – and are still scrambling to catch up. At the same time, current market conditions have left employees feeling like they need to stay in their roles no matter what.
With this, the process of changing your company culture for the better is complicated.
That’s why the Kunik team sat down with Kate Snowise, the Founder of Thrive.How and an organizational psychologist turned executive coach. For years, she’s partnered with businesses (like Kunik) to address company-wide stress, well-being, and burnout.
In this expert guide, Kate covers the following:
Let’s dive in.
"If you’re not intentionally involved in your company culture, it’ll be created anyway. I don't think there's ever a space where it's too early to start considering how you take care of and protect culture within an organization."
As an industrial and organizational psychologist, Kate is trained to focus on people, performance, and organizational well-being. It’s a different sphere than clinical psychology; she frames her space as the "corporate end of psychology," AKA how people interact, function, and thrive in community with others in an organizational setting.
Kate’s role became especially relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many companies newly realized the importance of taking care of their employees' well-being.
Suddenly, Kate's expertise was more sought-after and discussed than ever before.
Today, she works with Kunik to help our clients navigate challenging questions, such as:
To process these questions in productive, long-lasting ways, Kate leads workshops and discussions of all scales. These types of gatherings may look like:
Ultimately, Kate aims to empower people with knowledge and next steps around these topics.
"Ironically, it was a sweet relief that the pandemic brought employee well-being to many companies’ agendas. When I first qualified as a psychologist in the 2000s, there wasn't an organization willing to invest money in taking care of the stress and well-being of their people."
Here’s a glimpse into how Kate expertly structures and executes employee workshops — specifically on how to reduce burnout.
1. Start with the science
No matter the workshop topic, Kate always begins with a scientific and theoretical base.
Kate kicks off by discussing the transactional model of stress and coping. This model essentially explains that it is a direct relationship between an individual and an environment that creates overwhelm, stress, and ultimately burnout. There are two sides of this equation: individual and organizational responsibility.
This theory sets the stage for the rest of the workshop.
2. Claim responsibility
Next, Kate emphasizes that responsible organizations must claim responsibility for their employees’ well-being and consider two questions:
The transactional model is essential to keep in mind here – employers have to consider both sides of the equation.
When organizations don’t nurture environments internally, any external assistance falls flat.
3. Understanding coping pathways
Finally, Kate explains the three coping pathways people can invest time and energy into:
"There’s an organizational responsibility to manage the pressure you may put on your people. This way, you create sustainable work environments that help people thrive and live up to their potential. It also helps the organization itself do well."
In Kate's words: "We're not human resources. We're individuals and people."
When she first qualified as a psychologist in the late 2000s, only the most forward-thinking companies considered the value of employee well-being.
Today, ignoring company-wide well-being will lead to hiring and retention issues. Kate sees this take two forms:
When is the right time to invest in cultural change?
With this, Kate reminds us that it’s never too early to consider your organizational culture.
Even at a two-person startup, people can ask themselves what kind of culture they're creating and interrogate whether that culture aligns with their values. The point is:
Culture is constantly being created. If you take your eye off the ball for too long, you won't notice it happening.
Kate recommends two tactics for forming culture in the early days:
"Companies may end up losing their very best talent because, ultimately, there comes a point where people will find a way to rebalance. And if that means leaving their high-pressure job, that's the price they'll choose to pay."
Kate chose to partner with Kunik because our bespoke services stood out to her — in two ways.
1. Kunik curates the best speakers for every unique partner
Oftentimes, leadership development companies have a bench of speakers that they shuffle around to fit the needs of each client.
Kunik doesn't operate like that. Instead, they distill the needs of the orgs they work with and identify the best experts to curate hyper-specific courses.
With Kunik, Kate loves that her expertise always perfectly matches the partner company.
2. Kunik programs truly meet the needs of their clients
In Kate’s experience, the Kunik team carefully adjusts to every new project as no two client orgs are the same.
As a result, Kunik curates culture and leadership development programs that are truly dynamic — no “jamming a square peg into a round hole” is happening. In her own words:
“Kunik puts a lot of effort into considering how these topics link together, the stories they tell, and the culture they’re helping create within the organization.”