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About Leapsome

Diving into the future of work: 2021 in review at Leapsome

Jenny von Podewils & Kajetan von Armansperg
Diving into the future of work: 2021 in review at Leapsome
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Marked by the ongoing pandemic, the climate crisis, and hope brought by the vaccines, 2021 was no ordinary year. In the world of work, employees and companies are still struggling to find their feet. With a new outlook on mental health — and, for those able to work remotely, more options — workers expect more from their employers.

In 2021, we supported hundreds of companies that are working hard to improve their cultures and create structures to genuinely enable their people to be their best and feel fulfilled at work. For us, this meant continuously understanding our customers’ needs, addressing these needs in our product, supporting HR/people teams, and focusing on the growth of our people. Because, like our customers, our team expects a lot from us (and rightfully so).

A lot changed at Leapsome in 2021, as we more than doubled our team and tripled our revenue. Being a company that helps other businesses (from tech giants like Unity and Spotify to hundreds of inspiring SMBs) scale their (people) processes and cultures, we take this responsibility seriously — just like we take our mission of making work fulfilling for everyone. Every step of the way, we work to ensure that our growth is fast yet sustainable and that our processes align with the future of work. 

We’re stepping into 2022 with lots of excitement and full steam ahead! But self-reflecting is a big part of who we are as a company, so we’d love to share some of our highlights and key initiatives with you.

Illustration of rocket flying close to the moon and Saturn

Going hybrid — but also opening a new office!

In 2020, the pandemic had already made us explore remote work. And in 2021, we officially became a hybrid company. Although we have a few team members working entirely remotely, the hybrid approach is what we believe best fits our culture. We encourage our team to be at the office at least five days per month. This also means a responsibility to monitor COVID-19 numbers in Berlin and always comply with authority recommendations. As Europe faces the Omicron wave, the office time guideline is suspended.

The idea behind our hybrid approach is to foster individual autonomy and interpersonal connections, with meaningful relationships and opportunities for ongoing learning, coaching, and psychological safety. And to make that work (also taking our strong growth into account), we decided  to open a second, even cozier place that our people loved going to! In addition to our main, larger office, we opened a new space — some of us like to call it the Leapsome Coffee Shop! 

We collaborated with architect and designer Maxim Kurennoy to create an office that is optimized for social interaction. So while our team can have a quiet space for video meetings in booths or focused time using one of our open desks, there’s also a large area for collaborative work, meetings, chit-chatting, and hanging out at the end of the day.

The Leapsome Coffee Shop secondary office - area with communal table and chairs
The Leapsome Coffee Shop secondary office - area with individual booths for focused work
The Leapsome Coffee Shop secondary office - view of booths area and communal area in the background
photo by Natalia Smirnova
The Leapsome Coffee Shop secondary office - meeting area
photo by Natalia Smirnova

More options for our digital nomads

At Leapsome, we’re all passionate people with plenty of external interests that make us even better at what we do! Now that it’s possible to travel again, some of our team members wanted to explore new perspectives and work from other countries. Working from different countries has legal and tax implications for companies and their people, but we still wanted to make these experiences possible for our employees.

That’s why, now, everyone at Leapsome can work abroad for up to two months per calendar year while keeping the same benefits and employment status they have in their original work locations. Many Leapsome team members have already made good use of this by working from places including South Africa, India, Thailand, Portugal, and Ireland, to name a few.

Illustration of person using laptop in a natural setting, trees in the background

Mental health workshops

Work doesn’t happen in a bubble. We all have personal lives, all people go through individual issues, and the pandemic has affected all of us in different ways. Also, we’re aware that operating in a fast-paced environment with lots of ownership and responsibility, it’s possible to feel overwhelmed and not know when to stop and take a step back.

Mental and physical health are intertwined and equally important. We already offered a corporate membership to Urban Sports Club to support the team’s physical health, but we also wanted to do more for everyone’s mental health. Besides promoting support among colleagues and an environment in which mental health conversations are more than welcome, we’re now training managers on approaching the topic in their 1:1s to better support their reports — this is part of the Leapsome Leadership Toolkit (more on that later).

We’ve also launched MOMENTUM, a 7-week mindfulness and resilience training with our partners at Return on Meaning, and we’re now running our second cohort! Throughout these sessions, participants learn to apply mindfulness in their work and personal lives, develop resilience and self-compassion, and explore how to engage in mindful conversations (even under challenging circumstances).

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Enabling HR & people heroes

We’ve made a pledge to HR/people professionals — they’re the heroes making
the future of work a reality and building more humane, people-focused workplaces. Besides developing expert-backed educational content and interviewing industry leaders on the People Over Perks podcast, we’ve created a Slack community, also named People Over Perks, where these professionals can network with peers, find work opportunities, explore best practices and resources, and join exclusive ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) sessions with experts.

We started 2021 with a few hundred members. Now, the POPs community has over 2,500 people (from all over the world!) who empower one another and engage in meaningful discussions on all things HR: from learning and development to DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), performance management, and employee engagement.

Our promise stays strong: We’ll continue to work hard to keep POPs a thriving community and offer the latest resources for HR teams.

Illustration of a woman wearing a superhero cape

New paths for learning & development

We believe in modeling a culture of people enablement and development. At Leapsome, every permanent employee receives a yearly budget of €2,000 to invest in courses, books, coaching, and other learning opportunities.

Our passion for learning and seeing our employees thrive as collaborators and individuals also fuels three learning and development initiatives we launched in 2021: Leapsome’s Graduate Program, Leadership Academy, and Future of Work Academy. 

Leapsome’s Graduate Program

We see so much potential in people, and every day, we interview candidates who are passionate about the future of work. Some of them are still starting their careers or exploring a new field; from our experience, creating structured learning paths and mentoring our team members along their journeys can catapult talent and make our people shine. That’s why we’ve formalized a program to fast-track learning for recent graduates.

Over one year, participants of Leapsome’s Graduate Program master the art and science of business development and sales or customer success and account management, while also becoming software-as-a-service (SaaS) and future of work experts. Like every other team member, they all have ownership from day one and help us refine our strategy and implement fresh approaches.

The program includes: 

  • Over 12 training sessions on skills like negotiation, communication, active listening, and more
  • Over ten workshop sessions on personal development, resilience, and mindfulness
  • Ongoing manager coaching
  • Fast progression through career levels
  • A personal buddy to support individual success
  • Participation in Leapsome’s Future of Work Academy (keep reading to learn more)

Our Leadership Academy

A supportive relationship between managers and reports is a foundation of work that is fulfilling and gives people purpose. We prefer to think of managers as leaders and coaches; their job isn’t just to oversee a department: they should help their reports excel.

But leaders, too, need to be supported and coached. With that in mind, we’ve implemented Leapsome’s seven-month-long Leadership Academy — with workshops and peer learning — to strengthen skills outlined in our leadership expectations framework: 

  • Self-reflection: self-leadership, being a role model, showing vulnerability, and being a humble and thoughtful leader
  • Purpose: entrepreneurial mindset and transparency
  • Mastery: enablement, coaching, and people development
  • Autonomy: ownership and accountability
  • Relationships: psychological safety, consistency, and reliability

Two expectations that are present throughout this framework are availability and communication. We believe leaders should aim to be responsive, present, and cultivate an open-door culture for their teams. Communication is another essential part of effective leadership and is key to people enablement, conflict management, handling difficult conversations, and strategic planning.

Our second cohort will start soon!

Future of Work Academy

Open to all Leapsome employees, the Future of Work Academy is a learning format focused on People & Culture trends and the future of work. It comprises different initiatives: 

  • Learning Journey: a learning path built within the Leapsome platform with expert sessions on employee engagement, social changes and trends, new approaches to work, performance management, and more
  • Future of Work Basecamp: quarterly in-depth workshops
  • Transfer sessions: monthly deep-dives led by team members
  • Future of Work Book Club: we read and discuss books on workplace culture and other relevant topics
Illustration of two women sitting against a pile of books

Changes to our OKR process

As leaders in the people enablement field that help other companies build alignment and achieve more goals, we need to walk our talk and bring our learnings into our processes. In 2021, this included rethinking our own OKR process.

Now, we have one event to celebrate our achievements at the end of each quarter, and a separate one where we get to see what each functional department is planning for the coming quarter — we call these sessions OKR gallery walks.

Previously, we were doing both together, but we’ve realized that holding space for celebration and setting aside time to get energized for the new quarter would work much better! This way, both of these very important team rituals get the attention they deserve from everyone, and we take the time we need to celebrate one another and connect with everyone’s goals and projects. This strengthens collaboration, alignment, and psychological safety.

Illustration of three people celebrating at work

Corporate citizenship

We believe that being a people-first company goes hand in hand with being a good corporate citizen. At Leapsome, we’re committed to social and environmental causes.

Every year, we invite our team to join a donation challenge: Our team votes for three causes close to their hearts, and Leapsome matches their donations. Together, at the end of 2021, we donated a total of €34,462 to the Malaria Consortium, the World Food Programme, and LAMBDA Bundesverband — a wonderful organization supporting LGBQTIA+ youth.

We’re also carbon-neutral and, soon, we’ll kick off a challenge to motivate our team to offset their carbon footprints too!

Illustration of person holding a globe in their hands, with clouds and a plant growing within the globe

The first Leapsome offsite

In the spirit of strengthening alignment and psychological safety — and also having some well-deserved fun! — our team got together for an offsite.

We spent a few days together at the beautiful Wartin Castle in Casekow, Germany. We celebrated our Q3 2021 OKRs, played fun games, practiced sports, meditated, went on walks together, worked, prepared a barbecue, and enjoyed getting to know our colleagues better.

Presentation by Leapsome’s founders during the company’s offsite in 2021
Team members of Leapsome during the company’s 2021 offsite
Leapsome team members sitting next to one another and using their laptops during the company’s 2021 offsite
Four members of Leapsome working together and talking during the company’s 2021 offsite

Product highlights

As always, our product team delivered platform updates throughout the year to make Leapsome more accessible, inclusive, engaging, and serve our forward-thinking customers’ unique needs! These are a few of our 2021 updates (click on each one to read the individual blog posts for in-depth information):

  • New platform languages: the entire Leapsome platform is now available in 13 languages (more will be added in 2022), and our customers can also easily translate their skills frameworks, review questions, and survey questions into any other language, making it possible for each employee to access the information in their native language.
  • Performance review calibrations: What one manager sees as a positive score in a performance review may be another manager’s idea of a negative score. That’s where performance reviews calibrations come into play: they allow People Ops/HR teams to identify and correct this kind of mismatch between teams and promote a fairer, more consistent experience for all. And you can now do that within Leapsome!
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP) & sentiment analysis: Our engineers have refined our platform’s cutting-edge NLP for an easy overview of the sentiment behind your employees’ survey comments. With this feature — and our many other qualitative and quantitative data points — our customers make data-informed decisions on the most urgent areas to tackle.
  • Impact drivers: This feature allows platform admins to spot correlations between different questions in engagement surveys, providing another data layer for prioritization and decision-making. 
  • Manager dashboard: Our vision of leaders as coaches and mentors is also reflected in our product; last year, we developed a new dashboard to support managers. With this dashboard, they can have a straightforward overview of how their teams are doing — including goal progress, instant feedback, competencies across the team, and past reviews.
  • Post-survey action plans: Based on survey results and impact driver scores, our platform now recommends areas for improvement considering the highest potential impact! These recommendations were developed by our in-house organizational psychologists. And the more you use Leapsome, the stronger our algorithm gets by continuously evaluating actions and improving future recommendations.

Besides the many features launched in 2021, we’ve also implemented many other changes to the Leapsome platform — including a more intuitive user interface with vertical navigation. 

And we keep shipping platform updates every month! Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to stay tuned!

User interface of the Leapsome platform’s Manager Dashboard

— Would you like to help us make work fulfilling for everyone in 2022 and beyond? Check out our career page to find out more about our culture and explore our many opportunities.

And if you’d like to create a high-performing company culture while improving your people’s development, engagement, and performance, have a chat with one of our product experts!

Written By

Jenny von Podewils & Kajetan von Armansperg

Co-founders and co-CEOs at Leapsome
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