Community & Supporter Circles

Having a support network helps build resilience, which is one of the reasons that the Spotify HR team is actively working on further personalising our mental health support for band members. We subscribe to the idea that whilst individual support is extremely important, the benefits of social support, from those around you, is even more valuable when building up resilience and inclusion. 

We also recognise that people from historically marginalised and underrepresented backgrounds are often disproportionately affected by the world’s uncertainties and instability due to a lack of awareness, access, support and stigmas on the topic. 

That’s why in 2020, we developed a concept we call Circles, aimed at helping Spotify band members to build their resilience even more. The purpose of a Circle is to boost social support within the workplace through education, reflection, connection and providing practical tools – all centred around a specific mental health topic. 

Our first trial of Circles was really successful, so we decided to expand it. Now, based on the needs of the  communities within the Spotify band and expertise from our partners, we formed Community & Supporter Circles. 

Community Circles & Supporter Circles

Community & Supporter Circles are there to help our bandmates dive deeper into the intersection of mental health and community-related topics and gain a better understanding of the nuances that can shape an underrepresented community’s experience, and the impact these experiences can have on mental health. In particular, we work proactively in alignment with cultural moments and reactively as an added response to crisis situations, where band members in certain communities need extra support.

Our approach is to offer support on two levels: 1) Community Circles, and 2) Suporter Circles. The specific needs for mental health awareness and support differs throughout life and based on how each person identifies. By taking this approach and by always having the 3 specific elements (education, connection and practical tools), we ensure that we are building social support within Spotify, and help to boost individuals’ resilience and belonging.

Our Heart & Soul Community Circles are for band members who identify as being part of an underrepresented community, and want to gain practical tools for tending to their mental health while learning and creating connection to fellow band members. Typically each Circle is a session for band members to foster community by feeling seen, held and to leave feeling uplifted. Our Circles are always hosted by external mental health professionals, who help choose the topic that’s relevant to that specific community, at that specific point in time. Topics are formed based on feedback from our communities and recommended by our mental health partners. Having our circles hosted by mental health professionals is crucial as they are skilled in creating a safe space, leading conversations and education about mental health, while also being able to support one a 1:1 basis if someone in the Circle is unwell. We are mindful that complex topics are being discussed and always put people’s safety first. 

Our Heart & Soul Supporter Circles are for band members who’d like to gain a deeper understanding of how to be supportive to underrepresented team members and their mental health, as well as gain practical tools to use for themselves. These are offered as more of an ongoing educational approach, and a key part of the strategy for building social support within our organisation. We are aiming to raise the knowledge of all those who are willing and eager to learn about supporting their bandmates. To create an inclusive and supportive environment, we ask all Spotifiiers to lean in. 

Supporting Band Members In Crisis

The state of the world continues to be uncertain and as an employer it’s important to acknowledge the surroundings that we live in, and how that affects us. Therefore, having a robust crisis response for employees’ mental health is a must have for any modern HR team. We also think it’s wise to acknowledge the power of social support and to proactively help our band members build social support networks. And Circles is a central part of this strategy. 

For example, between October and the end of 2023, we’ve focused on supporting our Arab, Jewish and Muslim band members with regular Community Circles for each community centred on a topic. Some of the topics covered were trauma, grief and guilt, maintaining friendships in times of disagreement, and dealing with traumatic content. It’s been a valuable space for band members to come together, decompress, gain tools to manage their mental health and to connect with fellow band members, not feeling alone. Most importantly, community members and allies have shared an increased sense of belonging, feeling seen and heard.

Understanding The Nuances

Our Community & Supporter Circles help bandmates dive deeper into community-related topics and gain a better understanding of the nuances that can shape an underrepresented community’s experience, and with a focus on understanding the impact these experiences may have on mental health.

It’s invaluable to the business for people to feel a sense of belonging, and to feel supported. With a greater sense of belonging, our people can be happier and thrive more within their job at Spotify (and their life outside of work during their tenure with us). 

With the introduction of the Heart & Soul Circles, we are helping Spotifiers to understand that mental health experiences are different for each one of us, to acknowledge the challenges fellow band members may be experiencing, and to share their own story and learn from others, and also to gain practical tools to apply to themselves and with others.

For 2024, our Community & Supporter Circles will be part of global cultural moments programming as we see the value in celebrating moments, as well as using them to support communities affected by crises or world events. Watch this space!

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