TalentEconomy Podcast

Leading With Empathy and the Future of Work

Paige Siegall, Unzipped Staff
Levi Strauss & Co.
February 7, 2022

CHRO Tracy Layney shares how LS&Co. has been adapting our workplace since COVID began.

Last month, Chief Human Resources Officer Tracy Layney sat down with the Talent Economy Podcast where she talked about adjustments we have made here at Levi Strauss & Co. since the pandemic around flexibility, wellness, employee support and overall work-life fit. One critical component to how we’re implementing the workplace of the future? Empathy.

Here are more key takeaways from the conversation:

  • Acting with compassion: Tracy joined us in March 2020, right at the beginning of the pandemic, which means she not only had to navigate a new role but also had to quickly support LS&Co.’s COVID-19 response. “LS&Co. is a very values-driven company, so even when we had to make hard decisions, we did it with as much compassion and support for people as we could,” she shared.
  • Making work, work: Tracy has previously reflected on the idea that pre-pandemic ways of working were not actually working, meaning we have an opportunity now to make our workplaces stronger, healthier and more productive. “With technology always on, longer and longer commutes, things that were pre-pandemic life for a lot of us, those aren’t working anymore,” she said. “They weren’t a recipe for a healthy and happy life for most people. We know the rates of burnout were really high — that’s why I say if we go back to the ways of working from 2019, we’ll be missing the opportunity of a lifetime.”
  • Leading with empathy: So, what is one way we’re trying to reimagine work while focusing on supporting our employees’ overall well-being? Training managers to lead with empathy. “I believe it’s possible to train people to know what’s going on with other people,” Tracy said. “I believe you can absolutely train people to say, ‘Here are the questions you ask, here’s how you listen, and here’s how you respond.’”

The episode explores more on Tracy’s leadership journey, how we emerged stronger from the pandemic and details on our comprehensive employee support programs, including childcare and access to mental health services. Listen to the full episode.