September 27, 2021

Bravely helps BrainPOP extend HR capacity and support employee well-being through COVID-19 and beyond

“In other words, [Bravely] is the sum of everything we were looking for.”

BrainPOP is an online learning resource trusted by millions of young learners, educators, and parents worldwide. In late 2020, the BrainPOP team, like most companies, was grappling with the changes and anxieties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Chief Culture Officer Maya Kadar Kovalsky and VP of HR Mechelle Monroe sought a tool to support their people through a challenging time and expand their capacity as HR leaders.

In September 2020, BrainPOP rolled out Bravely to its employees. We caught up with Maya and Mechelle to talk about their goals for Bravely and the results they’ve seen.


BrainPOP employees with at least one Bravely session within first 9 months of access

17% to 2%

quarter-over-quarter reduction in employees who reported a reluctance to talk to their managers about workplace challenges

13% to 8%

quarter-over-quarter reduction in the number of employees identified as at risk

HR needed to scale individual support.

How did COVID affect the work of the HR team?

Maya: At the beginning of the pandemic, it was really hard. Employees needed more support — in terms of career questions and mental well-being. We wanted to give everyone ample 1:1 time to discuss their individual needs, but as a small HR team we didn’t always have the capacity. 

Mechelle: BrainPOP has grown substantially since I started here, so we were already dealing with a growing number of employees in need of support. If we had not brought Bravely on board, everyone would have continued to come to Maya and me during the most stressful period we had ever encountered as a company and a People Team. Bravely helped us maintain consistent, high quality employee interactions.

Did you know initially that coaching would be the right solution to extend your capabilities as a team?

Maya: I looked into some executive coaching options, but that type of support is limited to a small group of people. Mental health, well-being, and thinking about every employee as a whole person is really important to us at BrainPOP. When I found out about Bravely, it spoke to me. It not only provides equitable coaching that serves our whole population, but it also focuses on employees’ professional, mental, and physical well-being. I love that Bravely is a global solution, which is part of being truly equitable. In other words, it is the sum of everything we were looking for. 

Mechelle: We also looked at some platforms that are exclusively focused on mental health and wellness. I liked that they gave employees the option to talk to a human, like Bravely does, but they didn’t quite capture everything we were looking for. While Bravely looks at employees as whole people, it’s still a career coaching tool at its core, so it was the right solution to cover all the bases.

Employees needed a holistic approach.

When you implemented Bravely during COVID, what did employee support look like?

Mechelle: People were living and working in small spaces, in some cases with partners, kids, and pets. They were online longer, and they were trying to figure out how to talk to managers about issues they never faced previously. We needed resources to help them be successful through all of this so they would continue to thrive in their jobs and not feel burned out. 

Have those needs shifted in the past few months?

Mechelle: Across many organizations, you’re now seeing mass exoduses because people are reconsidering whether their current jobs are what they really want to be doing. Bravely is a great resource for people to talk about themselves as individuals, in relation to work, and to reflect on how work impacts other areas of their lives.

The other shift, which is more BrainPOP-specific, is that we recently went from an annual review cycle to a biannual cycle. Around those times, we see big upticks in employees turning to Bravely to help navigate professional growth and development conversations.

Maya: Now we’ll start seeing how the new post-pandemic culture plays out. BrainPOP is transitioning to a hybrid work environment, so we expect more people to question how everything will stay equitable when some people come into an office while others work remotely. Employees will continue to turn to Bravely to talk about how to have productive, candid conversations with their managers and advocate for themselves, while balancing their mental well-being. 

Bravely’s a hit at BrainPOP.

How have BrainPOP employees reacted to Bravely?

Mechelle: In meetings I have started to notice managers and employees framing things as,  “I spoke with my Bravely coach, and they said I should say…” It helps them distill their thoughts in a clear way. I can then use that as a jumping off point to help them go even further. It has created a lot of efficiency.

Maya: I have heard that some managers use Bravely and then recommended it to their reports. I love that because it means it’s useful enough to garner recommendations within the organization. 

Final thoughts

Do you have any advice for HR teams that are new to Bravely?

Maya: Use the quarterly reports as a tool to speak about usage and return on investment. It helps keep Bravely front of mind with the executive team and company leaders, and it’s a great way to evaluate what more is needed to continue nurturing company culture. At BrainPOP, we do a pretty good job of reminding employees about Bravely. Our CEO regularly calls it out in town hall meetings. This week, we had a manager training, and an email went out afterward urging people to go to Bravely if they needed additional support. We just constantly remind people that it is available to them as a resource.

Mechelle: The Bravely team has been clear and communicative, which has made our experience even more pleasant. I remember Hannah [Senior Operations Manager at Bravely] did a presentation for our team as a part of the onboarding process. She made it sound so easy, and I think that garnered a lot of early adopters. The Bravely team is always available for questions and to help with campaigns to encourage BrainPOPpers to use it as a resource. It’s also a great resource for the HR team to talk through things and receive guidance in their daily work. It really is a benefit for all.

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