We were glad to have the opportunity to be a part of the Utah Economic & Energy Summit in October 2020, where we discussed how to bring well-being into the workplace. Here some quick blurbs from The Business Case for Supporting Mental Health session:
Transcripts for the videos can be found below:
In pre-pandemic times, there was a statistic, which stated that for every $1 we might put into treatment of mental health issues or mental illness that we see a return on investment of $4 in improved health and productivity. And I'd really like to understand how you're thinking about the business impact of addressing mental health and our economy.
Yeah, I'll go ahead, and in fact, I think if we update that too, Deloitte just published some new information that it's for every dollar, it's a $5 ROI. So, it's even improved more.
But I think there's a key here, and that is, we're talking about being proactive. The idea of focusing solely on downstream I think is part of the challenge here, and we have got to take a bigger look at moving upstream and having those conversations about mental health and normalizing it.
And I'll add another stat to that, which comes from the Society of HR managers—SHRM. They've said that 87% of leaders never receive any training as it relates to mental health. And so if you want to think about the culture of what's going on with the pandemic and how many people feel disconnected and alone, how do you as a manager really support that? And if you don't have any kind of training on even being able to identify it, then we fall back into the individual treatment model. So, if we start to look and focus more on training and being able to help our leaders and managers understand that they can make that kind of a difference too, within the workplace.
Last year, Qualtrics—another Utah company—teamed up with Mental Health of America and did one of the most fascinating surveys on workplace wellness. And what they concluded was, indeed, managers are key to really changing the narrative and normalizing the conversation around mental health. So as important as the CEO is, it's the manager who's having those touch points on a regular basis.
And the other thing that I find really important about that is, the more that leaders put themselves in a place of themselves being vulnerable and having open communication, the more open and vulnerable the overall culture will be. The days of saying, “I'm fine.” “Everything is okay.” I think those are long gone. I think even our leaders today, at the very highest levels, are feeling a lot of stress because of what's going on. And in the past we used to just fake it until we made it. That was kind of the thing that as entrepreneurs we used to always say. That is no longer going to work, because that drives stigma that is really holding people back from getting the help they need.
So there are two things I'm hearing you say. One, in order to get that $5 return on investment for every dollar invested we've got to make the investment at the right time. It can't be at the point of crisis. It's really got to be identifying people's needs before they're in crisis and being able to connect them to the right resources. And that it has to be management really being deliberate about developing those relationships and looking for that opportunity to identify someone.
We have to demonstrate genuine concern. If we're solely concerned about the employee as an employee, they're going to sense that.
And it’s like this, my wife knows when things are off with me because she cares about me. She can see that things are off, even when I might say from time to time, “Everything's fine.” “I'm okay.”
So demonstrating genuine concern is so important. And the way that we create that psychological safety is through listening, giving people our time, and allowing them to really share with us.
If we're just treating them like employees and then all of the sudden something's off with them, they're certainly not going to feel safe enough to come to us and share that in most cases. So, this is an investment up front to be able to create that kind of psychological safety where they do feel comfortable enough to say, “Hey, you know what, something feels a little bit off with me right now.”
I'm hearing a lot about how people feel like, “I'm working from home, I feel disconnected, I feel lonely, I'm not getting the interaction I need.”
If you really want to be proactive, a simple way that you can do that is to hold online meetings without an agenda. So, have some conversations. Talk about other things. Rather than making it all about work, take a different direction. Talk about hobbies. Talk about different things, and try to recreate some of that connection from an online perspective
I come from Purple, an innovation company. We focus on comfort products. So a big part of our workforce when the pandemic hit was calling into our EAP, our employee assistance plan. They were getting no answer. And that was not working for us.
We are a manufacturing company, and we needed mental health for our employees. We're rapidly growing and, in fact, since the pandemic started in March, we've hired over 875 people. So we were in rapid growth already before the pandemic, and we needed a good EAP.
We talked a little bit about the proactive approach. And we decided, because our employees were not getting answered with our existing EAP, that we would ask the question, “What can we be doing?,” and then we listened. And what we heard is, “We need more resources.” So we reacted to that, and started trying to find an EAP that would work for our employees.
We were just lucky enough that we found Blunovus. Blunovus is a proactive approach to employee health.
What does that mean to have a proactive approach?
Texting—a text service every Friday that sends out a text everybody. People can reply back if they're in crisis or if they're not in crisis.
We have a Wednesday brown bag lunch, where we talk about mental health things or issues that are coming up, like, what does stress look like? What does anxiety look like? We've had mental health professionals come into that brown bag space and normalize it.
We've also done a lot of phone calls with the Care Center. Our utilization rate with our EAP skyrocketed, because we actually were able to take an approach where employees were able to utilize it.
It's very interesting that we're finding in some of these conversations with our managers, through management training, that they're able to identify an employee that's in crisis and identify an employee that is having stress and anxiety, which is phenomenal. So, in how it's changed Purple, it's opened up that normalization of talking about mental health.