- During the COVID-19 pandemic, Twitch almost doubled its daily user base.
- Lenke Taylor, Twitch’s chief people officer, details how the company adjusted its culture virtually.
- Taylor was named one of Insider’s HR Innovator in 2021.
- This article is part of our “HR Insider” series about HR leaders and their noteworthy strategies.
During the pandemic, Twitch’s daily user base grew from 17.5 million at the beginning of 2020 to 30 million by the end of the year. The streaming platform, which is known for having a non-hierarchical culture, had to use its talent strategy to address skyrocketing demand.
The company treasured its in-office culture, which included cookies in the kitchen, intense collaboration on new product updates, and a physical workspace that played “an integral role in creating a sense of community,” Lenke Taylor, chief people officer at Twitch, told Insider. Taylor was named one of Insider’s 2021 HR Innovators.
Taylor had to figure out a way to continue to cultivate Twitch’s collaborative culture, when everyone was working from home.
“It was more important than ever to foster the sense of inclusivity, engagement, and community that is so core to Twitch as a brand,” she said.
Making culture virtual
As they moved to fully remote, Twitch hosted virtual events like interactive cooking classes and new hire meetups, as well as emotional support coaching and home-office ergonomics.
The company offered modified work or relocation plans for employees as needed. They also sent a box of the beloved cookies to employees, which Taylor called “a delicious nod to bringing a favorite piece of the Twitch HQ in-office experience.”
“A lot of these initiatives were fueled by the passion and direct input of our employees,” Taylor said. “Before and throughout the pandemic, I’ve consistently sought out employee feedback through monthly employee roundtables, which uncovered new issues and reiterated my own position as an equal, invested member of the team.”
Taylor’s said her primary job is to support employees, which includes understanding the employee experience and advocating for a better one.
She works closely with her team, who was able to adapt most of the company’s in-person community building programs to a fully virtual environment.
“It’s been incredibly rewarding to watch our team come together and adapt to an incredibly challenging environment, and find ways to thrive,” Taylor said.
Investing in DEI
The Twitch strategy for diversity, equity, and inclusion has three pillars: grow talent, be inclusive, and increase diversity.
Her tactical objectives were focused around driving more accountability in hiring, training, employee support, and access to company programs. Taylor said the company uses data to track progress, evaluate pay equity, and hold the company accountable.
“We recognize that there are systemic causes in society which create inequity and are working on the design of our internal programs to drive equity and address bias,” she said.
The company’s investment in inclusion also included mentorship programs for employees from underrepresented groups, training around allyship, bias, and inclusive leadership, and expansion of employeem resource groups.
An employee centric approach
During the pandemic, Taylor said she learned that empathy is more important than ever.
“As unexpectedness became the norm, I’ve realized more than ever how many unique factors impact how individuals can survive and thrive,” she said. “I’ve learned how important it is to encourage the best of each individual’s capabilities, and ensure they are collaborating as a team.”
This emphasis on people and the challenge of creating new solutions and strategies for helping them are a big part of why Taylor enjoys working in HR leadership.
“I was drawn to HR because it offers opportunities to solve complex and dynamic problems. People are so different and unique, and that keeps my job interesting and challenging,” she said. “I enjoy aligning people’s capabilities with business needs, both of which are always evolving. It’s been a very energizing and rewarding career path for me.”