Limeade CEO Henry Albrecht on inspiring innovation at a growing company

CEO Henry Albrecht founded Limeade, the employee experience software company that is defining the future of work for employees and customers. Albrecht told Ladders about the extremely special culture at Limeade, how leaders inspire innovation, and how Limeade is intentionally focusing on employee experience within the company.

Your company values are listed as “Anything is possible, Be it, Delight our customers, Own it, Speak plainly, and We’re a team.” How do you enforce these values throughout the company and why are they important to you?

“We infuse these values into every step of the employee experience. They are ingrained into our hiring practices – not just our job descriptions, but how we interview and align on common purpose with our applicants. They’re built into our performance management process too. Are you getting the job done but not living the values? Are you struggling on deliverables but demonstrating the values in your efforts? We hold people accountable for both the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ – and both can be coachable. But we look very hard for the values disconnects that suggest it’s best to help someone move on.

They’re built into our social recognition system in our own version of the Limeade employee experience platform, ‘Team Limeade,’ too. We ask our ‘LimeMates’ to connect every positive reinforcement to a Limeade value. Every year, we have an entire employee event dedicated to the value ‘Anything is Possible,’ where we set aside time as a company to reflect on all that we have accomplished and all of the big things we want to achieve in the year ahead. And – spoiler alert – we give out awards for each company value to highlight the behaviors employees are keeping alive and well.”

What’s special about Limeade’s work culture?

“I often hear from office visitors – customers, vendors and relatives – “What do you put in the water here?” Of course it’s just tap water, but the energy people feel is a result of us caring about each other as people. We have great managers who get to know their teams as people. They take an interest in employee well-being, engagement and inclusion. But it’s not just managers – it’s every team, peer and colleague who treats people with a palpable kindness. Whether it’s at the airport, in our building, at our annual conference or with a quick email, I hear a lot of positive words about the people I get to work with every day. We are all very passionate about our mission to improve well-being in the world. We’re making widgets, I suppose, but our widgets are explicitly designed to make work and life better for millions of people. There’s a special sense of pride in that.”

How do you promote innovation at Limeade?

“Leaders here give guidance in the form of objectives and key results desired, and of course provide coaching and caring, but then we look to our empowered employees to ideate and bring ideas to life. Autonomy and accountability go hand in hand. We believe so much in innovation that we have a Founders Innovation Award, given to employees who take bold risks to help the business in some way. The award comes with stock, a trip to Mexico – and public celebration of the disruptive innovation.”

Does the way you handle inclusion at Limeade change as the company grows?

“Yes, it has to. As a company, we use our own products to keep a constant pulse on inclusion and take action to make our culture more inclusive. We also look to think outside the box with our talent acquisition strategies and beyond. The more we grow as a company the more our insights and knowledge around inclusion grow, but also the greater a challenge it becomes to make everyone feel included. We think we’re up to the challenge, but like every business, we have a long way to go. Sometimes we look to outside experts and consultants for help too.”

Why do you think it’s important that companies use technology to increase employee engagement and well-being?

“There are so many reasons why technology is required. Just to name a few – you need it for employee listening, anonymity and trust, global reach, machine learning-based insights, gamification and fun and to provide the culture dashboards C-suite executives and Boards of Directors need. Technology allows companies to predict things like burnout and turnover in real-time, and to ensure they have the workforce and culture they need to achieve their strategic goals. There is often a huge and unacceptable gap between the culture companies think they have and the culture they actually have. I can also share that well-being and engagement technology can also help leaders show up as real people. This transparent commitment to care builds real trust and commitment.”

You wrote in the beginning of 2019 that Limeade will be focusing on employee experience this year. Why is this important to you? How has Limeade tackled this topic throughout this year?

“Most employee experiences are unintentional, jumbled and disconnected from the culture companies want, as defined by values. We can do better. This year started with the research, particularly around the science of caring for employees. We uncovered research that shows when employees feel cared for they are 60% more likely to stay at their company, 95% more likely to feel included in their organization and 91% more likely to recommend their organization as a great place to work. While a lot of companies are still approaching the employee experience transactionally, we’re focusing on care culturally, on the millions of moments that make up an employee’s experiences. What’s good for people is good for business.”

How do you think the future of work will play into what you do?

“We get to define the future of work. We want our customers to thrive more, to serve their stakeholders better, because they care more. Of course technology changes every day – and we need to stay on the cutting edge of that. But we must remember that the human need for well-being, engagement and inclusion are constant – so we will continue to design technology to abet humanity. Think of the best parents, coaches and leaders in the world. Some are loud, some are quiet. Some skew to IQ, some to EQ. But they all are revered because they put the service of others ahead of themselves.”

What’s your advice for interviewing at Limeade?

“Know our values – and make sure they align with your own.”