Focusing on employee mental wellness helps companies thrive

How Canada’s leading companies are proving that taking care of employees’ mental health means more success in the marketplace

Canadian Business
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In preparation for announcing Canada’s Best Managed Companies, we’re looking into the DNA of management success: what makes a winning company, what they have in common and how they adapted to help their employees thrive in one of the most challenging years. It is no surprise that companies on the Best Managed list prioritized mental health and wellness initiatives for their employees, as the COVID-19 pandemic was (and still is) taking its toll on the workforce. 

“The key to addressing mental health is understanding that you need to make your working environment truly open to everyone being true to themselves,” explains Kari Lockhart, co-lead of the Canada’s Best Managed Companies program and Partner, Deloitte Private. There has generally been a stigma around mental health, and if there’s ever been a time to break down those barriers, it’s now. “Our Best Managed companies hold employee health and wellbeing as a key contributor to their success. They know their companies survive hard economic times because they invest in their employees; offering a wide variety of options and services, and in return, their employees invest themselves in their companies.” 

Kari Lockhart, co-lead of the Canada’s Best Managed Companies program and Partner, Deloitte Private.

Here’s what some of these companies are doing to support the mental health and wellness of their employees:

Reevaluating rewards packages

Some companies are reevaluating the types of benefits offered to their employees and are focusing on family-inclusive assistance services and telehealth, while also increasing allowances for therapy and paramedical assistance and creating healthcare spending accounts or mobile phone allowances. Some are even collaborating with some partners to offer discounts on personal wellness programs and products to help employees feel heard. 

Improving corporate communications

Many companies have had to take a hard look at their communication strategy (both internal and external) and work to streamline and communicate more regularly with employees. Including messaging from how to work comfortably from home to how to maintain a balanced mind has been a welcomed change. Companies are encouraging check-in video calls between team members and managers to ensure everyone is feeling supported, and even social aspects of the in-person work environment have been adapted virtually, like virtual birthday celebrations, social hours and recognition programs. 

Offering flexible working hours 

Offering a flexible work schedule and providing paid time off for employees to use on top of regular vacation time in order to recharge and prevent burnout are all highlights from some of the program’s companies. 

Though it might not be possible for all companies to implement new measures, positive change begins by paying attention to what employees need. Kari Lockhart admits there is no one perfect program when it comes to mental health, “but listening to employees and adapting as needs change shows companies value their employees as much as they do the organizational financial health. By leading with care and compassion, companies create healthy working environments, which lead to healthy communities and a better working climate in Canada.”