Boosting Engagement for a Team Tasked With Building ChatBots to Do the Same

As Mainstay invests in AI tools for employee engagement, the company’s internal culture continues to thrive. One company leader shares her vision for empowering her team.

Written by Brigid Hogan
Published on Jul. 22, 2023
Boosting Engagement for a Team Tasked With Building ChatBots to Do the Same
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Since 2014, Mainstay has been building AI-powered chatbots to provide learners with inclusive, supportive messaging — and now the company is bringing its powerful messaging engagement to help companies support employees through onboarding, retention and engagement efforts.

Helping clients build strong workplace culture is a natural development for Mainstay, as it builds upon the company’s internal culture of growth and collaboration, according to Director of Professional Services and Operations Jackie Ivy-Hardin.

Ivy-Hardin’s leadership exemplifies Mainstay’s approach to meaningful employee engagement. “My vision is to create an environment where my team feels empowered, valued and inspired to reach their full potential while working together towards a shared mission and vision,” she said.

In order to make that vision a reality, Ivy-Hardin grounds her work in the company’s foundational mission, vision and values to guide the decisions she makes.

But her daily commitment to culture doesn’t stop there. “Celebrating team accomplishments is essential — along with providing my team autonomy and ownership of their roles and development,” she said. “I prioritize maintaining open communication and acting on feedback as it is crucial for building trust, continuous improvement and growth.” 

Built In sat down with Ivy-Hardin to learn more about her approach to building culture at Mainstay, how she integrates the company’s values into her work and the many possibilities for supporting company culture through AI.


How do you build team culture at Mainstay?

Jackie Ivy-Hardin
Director of Professional Services & Operations • Mainstay

At Mainstay, our primary focus is cultivating a robust team culture that emphasizes collaboration, trust and autonomy. Our approach stems from our mission and values, which serve as a foundation for teamwork and decision-making. We take the time to celebrate victories, recognizing the dedication and effort put forth by our team. We perceive challenges as opportunities for growth, which nurtures resilience and adaptability within our team. Open communication and active listening are essential in ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard and appreciated.

Constructive feedback plays a crucial role in our continuous improvement, and we urge our team to both provide and act upon valuable input. We are committed to ongoing learning and professional development, recognizing that the growth of our team directly influences the success of our company.

Mainstay’s team culture empowers our team to thrive in their roles and contribute significantly to the company’s overall success. This culture is vital to our work, as it allows us to tackle challenges and celebrate accomplishments collectively.


How do you help your team grow their careers? What tools and support do you offer to allow them to stretch their skills?

At Mainstay, we prioritize our team members’ growth through a three-pronged approach: autonomy, mastery and purpose. We foster a culture of self-driven learning by offering access to training and development opportunities tailored to each individual’s role and interests. Our emphasis on mastery encompasses regular training sessions, peer-to-peer learning and collaborative projects. By aligning personal growth with Mainstay’s mission, vision and values, we instill a sense of purpose in our team members’ learning journey.

We prioritize our team members’ growth through a three-pronged approach: autonomy, mastery and purpose.”


To further support professional development, we provide annual learning stipends for courses, conferences or training that align with an individual’s interests. As a director, I am deeply committed to supporting my team’s current goals and future aspirations. This includes regular one-on-one meetings to discuss professional and personal development, providing opportunities for growth and offering constructive feedback.

By integrating our three-pronged approach with learning stipends and coaching, we create an environment where our team members can thrive in their careers and prepare for future opportunities.


What is something exciting that you are currently working on with your team?

We are doing some exciting work using our AI-powered chatbots to help companies better support their employees. Our chatbots use two-way proactive SMS engagement to identify and address challenges employees may face, providing real-time support and fostering confidence. In addition to onboarding and retention, our chatbots serve as a 24/7 resource for employees, answering questions and addressing concerns. This fosters a sense of support and belonging, maintaining high engagement and satisfaction within the workplace.

In addition, the chatbots provide a safe space for workers to share their experiences without judgment, and because we focus so heavily on empathy and understanding, we’re able to develop deep parasocial relationships between workers and our bots, building trust between workers and their employers.

Our chatbots use two-way proactive SMS engagement to identify and address challenges employees may face, providing real-time support and fostering confidence. They also solicit feedback.”


We’re excited to help companies rethink their approach to engaging their employees, as it ultimately creates a more positive and productive work environment for their teams.


What is the employee value proposition for those thinking about joining your company?

At Mainstay, our employee value proposition is centered around nurturing a culture of growth, curiosity and impact, offering a dynamic setting for career advancement. Our core values — ‘why matters,’ ‘create joy,’ ‘drive impact,’ ‘kindness’ and ‘grow yourself’ — direct our work approach and define our company culture.

By embracing ‘why matters,’ we promote curiosity, open-mindedness and delving into the heart of a story to produce content that truly resonates. ‘Create joy’ highlights gratitude and positivity, allowing us to celebrate successes and learn from challenges. ‘Drive impact’ enables employees to take responsibility for their work and contribute to the company’s success through solution-oriented thinking. Kindness’ encourages empathy and understanding in our interactions, while ‘grow yourself’ emphasizes our dedication to personal and professional growth, offering opportunities for ongoing learning and progress.

Joining Mainstay means becoming part of a team that values curiosity, joy, impact, kindness and growth. Working at Mainstay will not only positively influence your career but also provide a fulfilling, purpose-driven work experience.


Is there anything else you’d like to share?

At Mainstay, our vision is to foster a culture of growth, collaboration and empowerment. We prioritize building a strong team culture centered around collaboration, trust and autonomy, rooted in our mission and values. We invest in continuous learning and professional development, understanding that our team’s growth directly impacts our company’s success.

We’re excited about our innovative AI chatbot projects, focusing on engaging both workers and learners.


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Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Mainstay.

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