Transcom Worldwide Philippines, Inc. is a global customer experience specialist providing customer care, sales, technical support, and credit management services.
MindNation sat down with Aldrin Carlos, Transcom Asia Director of Employee Engagement and Communication, to talk about how a personalized, holistic mental health program has benefited Transcom’s 9,000+ employees and how they plan to do more in the future.
Q: Why is mental health important to Transcom?
ALDRIN: Even before the pandemic, our CEO, Mark Lyndsell, recognized the need to set up a program that would cater to our people’s mental health. Mental health is an essential part of a person’s overall well-being and we simply cannot expect people to compartmentalize themselves when they are at work and bring with them their joys, tears, hopes, and fears for themselves and the people dearest to them.
We also recognize that mental health is a taboo subject, especially in the Philippines, and people didn’t want to talk about. The company felt that we should provide an environment where people’s concerns can be addressed.
Q: What were the factors that influenced your decision to make it a priority, or was there something specific that triggered it?
ALDRIN: We stepped up our mental health program when a lot of our folks started showing signs of anxiety due to the [COVID-19] pandemic. At the onset of the lockdown, there were people whose jobs were affected due to the reduced working capacity onsite. There were also concerns about job security, coping with transitions, worries for their families, etc. True to our core value of Malasakit (“concern”), the company started looking for a reliable partner to help develop a robust mental health program.
Q: How did upper management react to this plan?
ALDRIN: Our senior leadership team actively led the implementation of this initiative. Mental health was a subject in every sitrep meeting, and the members never ceased to ask if HR had already chosen a partner or what alternatives were available to ensure that people’s mental health are supported.
“A mental health program, more than just a good people investment, is a concrete manifestation of genuine care to employees and their overall well-being.”Aldrin Carlos, Transcom’s Director of Employee Engagement and Communication
Q: What were the primary objectives and the initial steps to building a mental health program within the company?
ALDRIN: The primary objective was to provide help to anyone in the company. Similar to how we offer financial assistance through our Transcom Cares program or 24/7 medical assistance through our HMO partner, we also sought to make mental health assistance readily available for our employees. We started with simple, free hotline numbers that employees may contact, but we thought that a better way to do this meaningfully was through a partner who can offer an array of services.
Q: How did you find out about MindNation? How were they able to help?
ALDRIN: We were receiving different offers from various mental health program providers and chanced upon a meeting with Daph Bajas [of MindNation]. We expressed our needs in terms of the assistance we wanted to give to our employees and Daph came back to us with proposals on how these can be addressed. He crafted a package that gave us a free webinar for every 30 psychologists booked each month, although I believe he owes me 2 webinars per month now because we are currently booking 60 or more sessions per month. Right, Daph?
These monthly webinars, the ‘unlimited’ social conversations, and the psychologist bookings were all that we needed initially. Eventually, we reached out for more services like small group sessions, psychological first aid sessions for leaders, Monday Energy Boosters, and wind-down sessions.
Q: How did your employees react?
ALDRIN: The response from our employees was generally positive, and this can be attested by the number of attendees of the mental health webinars we initially conducted, the questions that they asked during these webinars, and the volume of people as well who reached out for 24/7 social conversations and psychological consultation bookings.
Inevitably, there were those who are still not receptive or comfortable with the idea of opening up to accompaniment. The partnership with MindNation, however, allows for different avenues to reach out to people – if not through the one-on-one interventions, at least through the virtual group activities or webinars. We’ve also explored ways to orient leaders about psychological first aid so they can extend basic accompaniment to their team members.
Q: What challenges have you encountered and how are you working to resolve them?
ALDRIN: The issue now is really more on how the webinars can reach our agents, most of whom just rely on free data to be able to connect to the internet. That is why we cannot simply broadcast through Zoom and have to use Facebook Live. But the challenge with FB Live is we cannot really determine how many of our employees tune in since it is open to the public.
It is also difficult to gather so many people in a common time slot, thus, the broadcast has to be recorded and replayed either through our official FB page itself or through our onsite plasma screens.
Q: In terms of the employees’ well-being: what differences have you seen since you brought in MindNation? Anything significant that you would like to share?
ALDRIN: Among the leaders, there is now that sensitivity and greater awareness that they cannot just simply ignore the mental health concerns of their team members. Additionally, there is a clamor from them on how they can be of assistance as far as mental well-being is concerned.
We were expecting the number of bookings for psychologist consultations to go down but recent months are actually showing spikes. This could either be a sign of a real concern, especially since the pandemic is far from over, or it could be because there is now more awareness among the employees that help is available and they might as well avail of it. It was also observed that there are new hires who are availing of the services.
Q: On a personal note, what have YOU been doing to take care of your mental well-being?
ALDRIN: I am able to draw mental fortitude and resilience so far from my faith, from being grateful for the blessings and gifts I have received despite the ongoing situation, from my family, friends, and my team. There’ve been a lot of stressors but so far I have managed to not allow myself to succumb to them. I am very conscious not to allow myself to be affected by negative thoughts.
I do have projects at home that are stress-relievers and give me some sense of fulfillment – minor repairs that require some creativity, construction of an additional nook in the house, etc. I am also lucky that my work allows me to be creative and use my talents.
There are good movies via online subscription – old and new – that I watch and enjoy with my wife and kid and there are, once in a while, books published by my own friends which bring a sense of pride, joy, and inspiration.
Gratitude also allows me to help others and helping others is so rewarding and beneficial to mental health.
Q: What is the one mental health advice or practice that you take to heart, and why?
ALDRIN: To never let myself be overpowered by a concern or a problem because I am bigger than my problem, and if the problem proves to be much bigger, I have a loving family and supportive friends who will back me up. And if the problem is so huge, there is a Bigger Being that takes care of me and loves me unconditionally. Help is always available in ways human and divine.
Q: What is your advice to colleagues in the industry who are also considering mental health programs in the workforce?
ALDRIN: A mental health program, more than just a good people investment, is a concrete manifestation of genuine care to employees and their overall well-being. Go for it.
Q: What is the company looking forward to with regards to mental health and well-being this 2021?
As we continue to support our employees in any way we can, we are also looking for ways to extend our program to their loved ones. We are grateful to our employees’ families and whenever possible, we want to integrate them in the benefits we offer.
If you want to create a mental health program for your organization, you can partner with MindNation and email [email protected].