Is empathy an essential skill for working professionals to develop? While you might dismiss it as being too fluffy for the workplace, empathy is increasingly being recognised as a crucial soft skill, especially when it comes to leadership.
In fact, studies show that empathy can help workers bond with each other more, and create a more inclusive, resilient workplace. Empathetic leaders can boost productivity, work-life balance, and employee engagement.
But is it enough to simply ask your employees how they are––or should employers be going one step further?
Innovation at work
Enter Kintsugi, the mental healthcare app developed by Berkeley-based entrepreneurs and engineers Grace Chang and Rima Seiilova-Olson, which has developed voice biomarker software to detect signs of depression and anxiety in just 20 seconds of free-form speech.
“Mental healthcare became a lot more prevalent in people’s lives during the pandemic and I think employers have given a lot of thought around what sort of solutions can be put there, because there’s an obvious shortage of specialists that can address some of these issues,” Chang says.
“Some of the challenges are that an employer may not have visibility or the ability to allocate the right resource for an individual––whether that’s coaching or a therapist, or psychiatrist, or psychologist. Often employers will put a few different solutions in front of their employees from medication applications, to knowing they have access to EAP benefits to access to therapists, but it’s not very easy to navigate.”
It was during a trip to Japan that Chang first became aware of the concept of kintsugi, which involves repairing broken ceramics by piecing them back together, and fixing them in place with gold enamel.
“In the repair and restoration of something you can make it that much more beautiful, and it gave me enough courage to start this new endeavour to address being able to provide access to mental healthcare for everyone,” she explains.
“I had challenges trying to access mental health care through my provider. Rima, my co-founder, she also experienced with postpartum, having to call for two months at a time, not having anyone reach back out to her.”
Repairing the system
While both Chang and Seiilova-Olson’s backgrounds are in tech, applying their knowledge to a healthcare issue close to both of their hearts was a natural next step.
“For both of us who are engineers, we maybe saw this problem through a different lens, not as clinicians, who as we know definitely want to be able to help their patients. We saw this as mostly an infrastructure problem where you have so many people trying to jam through that front door, but not a lot of visibility as to who is severely depressed, who is low to moderate. If we could provide some visibility at that bottleneck, maybe we would improve access to mental healthcare.”
Because the Kintsugi model is language agnostic, it uses vocal viral markets that are most predictive of clinical depression and anxiety, irrespective of language, dialect or accent. For 2023 Chang has plans to offer a full end-to-end component where the app’s AI technology will facilitate diagnosis, as well as a treatment plan.
“We have the ability to potentially transform the field of mental health by giving it some objectivity and measurement, but also this bears a lot of responsibility that we design that in an ethical way; in a way that serves the needs of the patients. It’s a hard line to walk. But it’s something that’s very meaningful––and that’s what matters.”
Looking for a way to make your own mark? The Tech EU Job Board has hundreds of opportunities in companies that are revolutionising the way we live, like the three below.
Senior Frontend Engineer - Customer & Monetization m/f/d, Deezer, Paris
French music streaming platform Deezer is looking for an experienced Senior Frontend Engineer to join a team of cross-disciplinary engineers. In this role you’ll be tasked with defining and implementing cross-stack solutions along with your team members to solve customer problems and reach the company's objectives, ensure your work is generic, scalable and in line with Deezer’s quality standards and delivered in a smooth and efficient way. Applicants should have four-plus years’ of experience in working on large and complex code bases at scale, using and maintaining design systems, a mindset focused on code performance and fluency in written and spoken English. See more details here.
Senior Backend Engineer Growth Alliance (m/f/x), HelloFresh, Berlin
HelloFresh wants to change the way people eat by offering high quality food and recipes, delivered straight to your door. Its engineers are responsible for the development and operational responsibility of the platform, and as a Senior Backend Engineer Growth Alliance you’ll take ownership of the architecture, design, development, deployment and operations of the microservices you will develop, using DevOps practices, pair programming and other cutting edge methodologies. You’ll also have experience working with state-of-the-art technologies like Kafka, RabbitMQ, Spark, Kubernetes, Istio and more. Check out the full job description here.
Data Operations Manager (Chatbot and Automation), N26, Berlin
The digital operations department at N26 is currently looking for a Data Operations Manager who is passionate about automation, AI, machine learning and customer experience, to play a fundamental role in providing the best possible experience to customers. You’ll be expected to work together with many stakeholders across the organisation to identify, prioritise, deliver and maintain services leveraging state of the art technologies, with the ultimate goal of providing the best experience to customers while improving efficiency within the operations department. If this sounds like your dream role, you can apply here.
Lead image: Jon Tyson