Kate Snowise

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: 

  1. The transactional model of stress and coping
  2. How to run an impactful culture workshop
  3. The right time to invest in changing company culture

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." 

How employee well-being became a mainstream topic

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: 

  1. How do companies take care of employees across dynamic, changing environments? 
  2. How can companies help employees build the skills to support themselves, while also helping decrease stress and increase engagement on an organizational level?

How to tackle challenging questions in productive ways

To process these questions in productive, long-lasting ways, Kate leads workshops and discussions of all scales. These types of gatherings may look like: 

  • Talks with senior leaders on creating environments where employees can thrive
  • Individual conversations about well-being, stress management, and avoiding burnout

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." 

Kate’s playbook for running impactful workshops

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: 

  1. How can you create an environment that does not ask too much of employees? 
  2. How can you equip employees with the skills to manage well-being on a personal level? 

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:

  • Perspective: culture at the organizational level
  • Nourishment: how companies can create supportive environments within organization
  • Action-based strategies: strategies that look at managing or mitigating pressure within the organization
"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." 

If you don’t invest in employees, you lose talent

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: 

  1. Younger generations are choosing workplaces based on values and culture. Companies must prioritize taking care of employees if they hope to recruit and retain the best talent. 
  2. Kate often finds that high performers have a unique tendency toward burnout because they are willing to push themselves — until they finally hit a wall. As a result, companies that don’t support their employees may soon lose their best ones.

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: 

  1. Teams should tailor approaches to well-being based on the specifics of their culture
  2. Ensure you have buy-in from leaders to establish team-wide trust. Without that buy-in, positive attempts can seem like trite or token initiatives. 
"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." 

How Kunik curates bespoke solutions for every client org

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.” 

Connect your people. Advance your culture.
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