Categories
Employee Wellness

No Health Without Mental Health: 5 Key Takeaways the IBPAP CEO Forum

Every month, members of the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) take turns hosting a CEO Forum to tackle issues relevant to the sector.

For this October — which also happens to be World Mental Health Month — Transcom Worldwide Philippines took centerstage and invited their mental health and well-being partner MindNation to join them in a discussion about “Brains and Body: Mental Health and Overall Wellness in Challenging Times.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that companies need to accelerate the conversation about mental health in the workplace,” says Mark Lyndsell, Transcom CEO for the Global English Region, in his opening remarks. “Many employees are struggling with feelings of isolation, despair, loneliness, and loss or lack of control.” 

MindNation co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Kana Takahashi agrees. “Mental health concerns are becoming more alarming because of the pandemic and it’s something that companies should really look into.”

Here are other key insights that were shared by Mark and Kana at the CEO Forum: 

  1. Mental health concerns in the workplace have financial repercussions. “Research by the World Health Organization and MindNation showed that 40% of employees are struggling with mental health issues during the pandemic,” reports Kana. “These mental health struggles have led to an increase in absenteeism, presenteeism, and staff turnover. All these productivity losses can cost companies as much as USD 400 billion dollars a year in revenue.”
  1. For change to happen, well-being needs to be holistically addressed. While some companies or mental health support groups offer teletherapy sessions or virtual training as a form of mental health support, Kana says that just relying on these will not yield meaningful results for the organization. “If you want the best for your company and employees, you need to offer more,” she points out. “Focus on your employees’ journey, on the company’s culture, and on the person’s overall well-being.”

This can be achieved by going back to the basics. “Create a mental health policy in the workplace that provides mental health leaves, flexible working hours, clauses for diverse groups, benefits, and other important protocols,” Kana enumerates. “Next is to make sure that basic support is there, such as virtual learning sessions and sessions with mental health professionals. Provide Critical Incident Support for emergencies. And finally, create a program for team members that encompasses the intersectionality of a person’s well-being — which means covering their physical, emotional, social, and cultural wellness, as well as financial well-being.”

  1. Change also needs to come from the top. “As leaders, we set the tone for the culture of the organization,” Mark explains. “In 2017, I embarked on a transformation within my organization to openly promote and hire folks from outside who actually met a specific EQ (emotional quotient) bar. And as a result, over time,  we were able to build a far more mature and empathetic leadership group that continues to provide dividends to the bottomline.”

.

“If companies want to successfully address mental health at work, they need to make sure that their managers and leaders are equipped with the proper skills and training to handle employees with mental health struggles, such as empathic listening, handling difficult conversations, and even mental health first aid,” Kana shares. “Employees need to feel that the company and the people they work with are safe spaces.” 

  1. A company that invests in its team’s wellbeing reaps benefits. “Addressing mental health in the workplace has positive business ramifications, especially when it comes to attraction and retention of talent,” Mark stresses. “Our numbers speak for themselves; our Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) has continued to progress consistently through  the pandemic.”

The eNPS is a company’s way of measuring how employees are likely to promote the company to other people because of their positive experience. “An eNPS of 20 to 50 is considered healthy. Anything above 50 is very good to outstanding,” explains Transcom Asia Director of Employee Engagement And Communication Aldrin Carlos. “Transcom Philippines’ average eNPS in 2021 is 57.9; our score this third quarter was 62.1 versus the global score of 54.”

“As leaders we are wired to get results and to always look at the numbers, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Kana says. “But our people are the ones driving those results and numbers; if they are stressed and unhappy, it will take a toll on our business. When you invest in your employees, you also invest in the future of your company.”

  1. There is no health without mental health. “When I first came to the Philippines 14 years ago, the conversation at work was all about physical health — how do we make sure our  people have a healthy diet, how can we get them to stop smoking, etc?” Mark relates. “But given what we are facing now, I believe that mental health is just as important, if not more important, than physical health. In the same way that many of us exercise our physical self three to four times a week to avoid serious illness, exercise or support for our mental self also needs to become the norm.” 

“As employers, we need to transcend the traditional approach of treating mental health concerns to something more innovative and proactive,” Kana says. “The more you understand your people through empathetic leadership and policies, the more you will be able to provide the right kind of support.”

MindNation uses a data-based approach to create proactive, customized, holistic health programs for your employees. Partner with us to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit http://www.themindnation.com now!

Categories
Employee Wellness

Managing A Multigenerational Workforce: Tips To Keep Gen X, Millennial, And Gen Z Employees Thriving And Engaged

In a previous post, we wrote about the different myths and stereotypes that each generation has about the other, and which contributes to employee disengagement and unhappiness. Once empathy and understanding are established among team members, focus must now shift to how senior leaders can address each generation’s well-being needs so that everyone becomes happier, healthier, and more productive.

According to a report by management consulting company McKinsey, companies that mix the different strengths and perspectives of younger and older workers benefit from better decision making, problem solving, and innovation. The report made special mention of the importance of age diversity and inclusion during the COVID-19 pandemic, stating specifically that “companies whose leaders welcome diverse talents and include multiple perspectives are likely to emerge from the crisis stronger.”

So what does each generation want from their leaders? Grace De Castro, founder and Chief Empowerment Officer of V+A Consulting, a boutique consulting firm with expertise in customized people programs and creative business solutions, shares her thoughts:

What Gen Xers want

  1. Minimal supervision from leaders. “Gen Xers prefer to work independently because it was also how they grew up,” Grace explains. “This is because they were raised with both parents working, they became accustomed to fending for themselves.”
  2. Peer-oriented collaboration. Precisely because their parents were busy and there were no Internet or smartphones to occupy their time, Gen Xers spent a lot of time interacting face-to-face with friends, so they grew up learning how to make genuine connections.
  3. Very clear opportunities to shine — “Because this is the generation that lacked attention from their parents, they are always looking to prove themselves,” Grace reminds. “So if they are not yet leaders, give them tasks that will allow them to show off their leadership skills; and if they are already leaders, invest in their continuous education like subsidizing online courses or assigning them an experienced mentor.” 
  1. Benefits related to physical and mental health. “Gen Xers have poor physical health,” Grace points out. “Among the different generations, they have the highest levels of alcohol and smoking abuse, as well as high levels of depression and anxiety. But they don’t talk about it and are less inclined to speak up when asked because they come from a generation that taught them to just follow and obey.”

    Grace believes that health benefits will also be warmly received because Gen Xers are already at that age when they know they are no longer young, that they are now closer to retirement compared to their Millennial and Gen Z team members. 

If you need guidance on how to implement a holistic well-being program at work, partner with a mental health and well-being company that can offer data-based and customized solutions to address the specific needs of team members. 

  1. Work-life balance. Similarly, because Gen Xers will not complain, it must be up to the company to create an environment that allows them to not feel guilty when they take breaks. 

What Millennials and Gen Zers want

  1. Employers who prioritize their well-being. Because Millennials and Gen Zers are work martyrs, they feel guilty for taking breaks. So as a leader, constantly remind your team members to slow down or rest between tasks. In addition, avoid assigning tasks outside work hours. “Let them know it’s okay to say ‘no’ when work becomes unmanageable,” Grace says.
  2. Constant reminders to unplug. Similar to the above, encourage these tech-savvy employees to disconnect from social media once in a while. Research has shown that too much consumption of social media increases feelings of inadequacy, FOMO (fear of missing out) and isolation. “These add to a person’s stress and anxiety,” Grace explains.
  3. Giving feedback. Millennials, in particular, crave continuous feedback. They demand and expect a responsive managerial style and ongoing relationships with their supervisors. “Feedback is not shouting at them if they make a mistake,” Grace cautions. “Rather, it is taking the time to walk them through what they did well and what they could improve on.” 

Just because someone was born in a certain time does not mean everything about that generation applies

Grace de Castro

For everyone

  1. Beware dubious generalizations about others. “Just because someone was born in a certain time does not mean everything about that generation applies,” Grace says.
  2.  Spend time getting to know your team members. “Each person has their own story to tell,” she adds.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put so much pressure on workplace leaders to maintain profitability that sometimes, looking out for the welfare of employees takes a backseat. “But unless your company is  fully automated, caring for the well-being of the people who work for you is the best investment you will ever make,” Grace says. “We need to be mindful that regardless of what generation they belong to, everyone is feeling overworked, feeling guilty for taking breaks, and struggling to separate work life from home life. So as a leader, it is important to make sure that everyone enjoys the work, feels valued, and feels like part of the team.Getting to know your people is what pays dividends and will pay back a hundredfold when you do it well.”

MindNation is a mental health and well-being company that focuses on holistic well-being to create customized programs for team members. Partner with us to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit www.themindnation.com to learn more!

Categories
Employee Wellness

Employee Mental Health: Myths and Facts Explained

Despite efforts to increase awareness and understanding about mental health,  many workplaces still consider mental health a taboo topic.  A MindNation Pulse Survey of more than 6,000 full-time employees in the Philippines revealed that only half (50%) of respondents feel comfortable talking about their mental health challenges with their managers, while 11% do not want to talk to anyone about their challenges at all. Additionally, only 12% of employees with mental health issues truthfully admitted to their managers that they are taking a sick leave for the same reason; the others stated that it was for a physical health problem, took it as part of their annual leave, or didn’t want to give a reason at all. 

Companies whose employees who do not receive support for their mental health challenges are more likely to have higher rates of absenteeism, presenteeism, and employee turnover. These productivity losses cost organizations at least PHP7 million per year for every 1,000 employees. 

One way to address mental health in the workplace is to stop the spread of misconceptions surrounding mental health challenges. Dr. Rhalf Jayson “RJ” Guanco, a licensed psychologist and psychometrician, faculty member of the Adventist University of the Philippines, and the current president of the Adventist Mental Health Association, lists down the top 5 employee mental health myths and provides the facts to debunk them:

Myth: Hard-working people do not have mental health concerns.

Fact:  No one is exempt from mental health concerns. “Mental health concerns can occur regardless of one’s personality, age, social situation, religion, or any other factor. It can also begin at any age, from childhood to later adulthood,” Dr. RJ enumerates. “Being hardworking, dedicated, or industrious does not make a person immune from mental health challenges.”

Myth: People with mental health problems are unreliable employees/team members.

Fact: Although mental illnesses may have a negative impact on an employee’s ability to function at work, it may also have no effect at all.People with mental health concerns can go on to live happy, productive lives as long as they receive proper treatment and support. “Mental health issues are in no way a reflection of a person’s ability to perform their work functions and are not a hindrance to perform job-related tasks. The fact that an employee has a mental health problem does not diminish his or her humanity. Putting them in a negative light and calling them untrustworthy should be avoided at all costs,” Dr. RJ stresses. 

Myth: Stress is really a part of work, so those with mental health concerns are just being lazy or making excuses.

Fact: “According to research, mental health disorders are caused by a variety of factors interacting with one another, including but not limited to heredity, biology, psychological trauma, poverty, adverse childhood experiences, environmental stress, etc.,” Dr. RJ enumerates. So in order to understand mental health problems properly, the person must be viewed holistically rather than singularly, i.e. work stress.

Myth: We’re in a pandemic, so it’s normal to have mental health problems and there’s nothing we can do but ride this out.

Fact: “While it is perfectly normal to feel nervous, depressed, isolated, and agitated, or to suffer from any kind of mental health problem during abnormal events like the COVID-19 pandemic, these responses must be handled well. Not everyone can just ‘snap out of it,’” Dr. RJ explains. “The more we understand ourselves and our own mental health, the more we will be able to provide useful support to individuals in our life who are dealing with mental health issues.”

MYTH: I can’t do anything for a colleague with a mental health problem because I am not a mental health professional.

FACT: “Even if you are not a mental health professional, you can still make a significant difference in the lives of those who are suffering from mental health concerns,” Dr.RJ assures. “For example, you can provide an empathetic ear to a coworker who is experiencing difficulties. Simply being the person who is willing to listen can help someone feel better. According to studies, persons who suffer from mental illnesses grow better and many recover when they have a strong support system.”

Education, guidance, and awareness training for managers can help them spot the warning signs of mental health problems among staff and offer support before they escalate.

Partner with MindNation to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit www.themindnation.com to know more about our services. 

Categories
Employee Wellness

Build Better Teams: 4 Ways To Instill Self-Confidence In Your Employees

Our previous post, Be Your Own Boss: 8 Ways To Increase Your Self-Confidence At Work, talked about how you can build confidence in yourself. Now it’s time to pay it forward and learn how you can build the self-confidence of your team members. 

“A self-confident team member is one who is comfortable in their own skin, trusts in their abilities, and knows their strengths and weaknesses.” explains Eric Santillan, an international Organizational Development consultant and a MindNation Scientific Board member. “Additionally, self-confidence is connected to boundaries. When a person has low self-confidence or low self-esteem, he has very porous boundaries, which means negative feedback is taken personally — when you tell them ‘Your report lacks X, Y, Z points,’ they take it as ‘I am no good, I am a failure.’ On the other hand, people with self-confidence have a growth mindset; they take setbacks as learning opportunities to become better.”

Self-confident employees benefit the company in many ways, from improved engagement to better performance. “Having self-confident employees can be a game changer for the company,” Eric stresses. “They are the people who willingly take on extra work because they want to learn more, and they are also the ones that you need to manage the least, allowing you more time to do the things that matter to you.”

“Having self-confident employees can be a game changer for the company. They are the people who willingly take on extra work because they want to learn more, and they are also the ones that you need to manage the least, allowing you more time to do the things that matter to you.”

Eric Santillan

As a manager, here are four things you need to constantly do to instill self-confidence in your employees:

  1. Develop their skills. Confidence is linked to competence. When you give employees tools and resources to improve themselves and they apply these learnings to produce outstanding work, their confidence rises. So provide your team members with access to courses and training, or maybe even give them the opportunity to run a passion project, so that they hone their skills and have a chance to shine.
  2. Don’t micromanage. If you do give them additional responsibilities, be empowering and not discouraging. “If you don’t trust your team, they won’t trust themselves,” Eric shares. “If you second-guess their decisions, or require that all decisions go through you, then you don’t incentivize them to make decisions on their own. Employees should not be treated like children that you have to check on all the time.”
  3. Don’t set them up to fail. Related to the above — make sure you don’t delegate big responsibilities too soon or too quickly, because they might become overwhelmed, inadvertently flounder, and have their confidence shot. “The key is to strike a balance between making sure that the project is important enough to be challenging for the team member, but not big enough that if it fails it will be detrimental to the company’s bottomline,” Eric advises.
  4. Take care of their well-being. This means building up your team’s mental health, from taking steps to reduce work stress and risk of burnout to providing them with resources to address mental health challenges. Make it a habit to check-in on your team members frequently, so that you get to know them as individuals and create a strong support foundation. When you treat your team members well, they will also view themselves in a positive and more confident light. 

As a manager, you should never underestimate your influence over a team member’s confidence. “You have the capacity to make or break someone’s confidence, because next to their significant other, you are their most influential relationship,” Eric points out. “A person who is managed really well will develop confidence, while a person who is managed really badly will feel their confidence eroded.”

MindNation offers virtual training for companies related to self-confidence, from cultivating a growth mindset to building mental agility. Email [email protected] to book a training for your team today!  

Categories
Employee Wellness

Eric Santillan: 7 Simple Ways Managers Can Reduce Workplace Stress

Eric Santillan’s road to psychology, counseling, and organizational development started — of all places — when he was studying to be a Jesuit priest in the early 2000s. “Jesuit formation is very psycho-spiritual,” he explains. So apart from studying theology, he also trained as a career and marriage counselor, moderated student organizations in the university, and even designed curriculums for schools. In 2006, he left theology school to become a full-time psychologist and counselor.

Today, Eric is a member of the MindNation Scientific Board, a relationship counselor, and a productivity and Organizational Development consultant. “As an OD consultant, organizations come to me when they have issues and problems and need clarity,” he explains. “And then I use organizational and management tools to help their people thrive and reach their full potential.”

Stress during the COVID-19 pandemic
One of things Eric realized in his 22-year career as an OD consultant was that big problems stem from minor irritations. “Little stresses build up over time and if they are not addressed, they blow up,” he shares.

An example would be the issue of workplace stress. A MindNation Pulse Survey of more than 6,000 full-time employees in the Philippines taken from September 2020 to April 2021 revealed that 61% of respondents are feeling stressed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eric clarifies, however, that the pandemic did not cause this spike in stress; rather, it simply magnified stressful situations that would — pre-pandemic — have otherwise been just considered to be inconveniences. “People already had mental health challenges before the pandemic; the pandemic just highlighted them and made them very real,” he explains. Some examples of these stressful situations:

  1. Bad management practices. Employees were already dealing with long working hours, heavy workload, job insecurity, and conflicts with co-workers or bosses long before the pandemic, but they have become more overwhelming now due to pandemic-related stressors like work-life imbalance, isolation, managing fears about the COVID-19 virus, and financial insecurity.
  2. Limited physical and psychological space. Prior to the pandemic, parents could take a breather from child-care duties and other household responsibilities by sending their kids to school or just leaving the house for some “me-time” at a nearby coffee shop. But school closures and social distancing policies now meant that people are stuck at home 24/7 with little to no reprieve.
  3. Missing support systems. “Deaths in the family and becoming a new parent are stressful transitions, and the pandemic has erased whatever support we would normally get during these major life changes,” Eric points out. Mourning rituals have been shortened, grandparents can no longer visit to help babysit — the people most affected by these transitions have no choice but to struggle on their own. 


How stress affects work
If left unaddressed, stress can contribute to decreased organizational performance, decreased employee overall performance, high error rate and poor quality of work, high staff turnover, and absenteeism due to physical and mental health problems.

As a manager, it is therefore important to take steps to ensure that employees are not subjected to unnecessary stress. “For a business to thrive, all elements have to be operating at their peak. So in the same way that you conduct preventive maintenance on your machines to make sure they are always running 100%, so should you have a program in place that makes sure your people are always at their best,” Eric says.

How to reduce workplace stress
While managers and leaders cannot address all the stresses that a team member is struggling with in their personal lives, there some things that they can do to make the workplace less stressful:

  1. Ask yourself: ‘Am I the source of stress?’ It’s possible you are inadvertently causing your employees stress, so be open to feedback about your leadership style. Another way to find out is to check the turnover rate in your department. “In teaching, there is a concept called ‘student factor’ or ‘teacher factor,’” Eric relates. “When one or two students fail in a class,that’s probably a student factor; but if 10 or 15 people flunk, then that’s a red flag, it’s a sign that there is probably an issue with the teacher. So it’s the same with workplace turnover– is it an employee factor or a manager factor? In some companies I have worked with, managers get sent for retraining if a certain number of people resign over a certain amount of time.”
  2. Get to know your team. Take into account the personal lives of employees and recognise that the demands of home will sometimes clash with the demands of work. “Letting your team know that they are not just workers, but that they’re recognized as individuals, goes a long way,” Eric says.
  3. Praise in public, correct in private. This simply means that when you have something positive to say about a team member, make sure others are aware of the praise; but if you are issuing a correction or reprimand, handle it one-on-one. Praising in public pumps up the self-esteem of the team member, while handing out negative feedback privately ensures that the employee is not publicly shamed in front of his or her peers. The latter creates stress and resentment, and damages morale.
  1. Mess creates stress. Disorganization contributes to stress, so always be clear when relaying instructions, Make sure that everyone is properly trained for their job, and encourage an environment where employees can openly raise concerns about their duties and workload.
  2. Try to celebrate small wins. Don’t wait for a project to end so you can celebrate; instead, break up the projects into milestones, and give positive feedback when people do a good job. “A company I know gives a small fund to each department, so that team members can treat themselves whenever they feel there is a cause for celebration,” Eric shares.
  3. Practice what you preach. “Don’t say anything that you will not do yourself,” Eric cautions. So model work-life balance and stress management techniques so that employees down the line will follow suit.
  1. Partner with a mental health and well-being company that addresses mental health challenges holistically. This means working with an Employee Assistance Program provider that addresses all dimensions of an employee’s well-being — physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and cultural — because you cannot have one without the other. 

And if you do already have an Employee Assistance Program in place, don’t rely on it to be the cure-all for all your team’s well-being concerns. “Addressing workplace stress is not just the work of the EAP partner,” Eric shares. “It should be part of the organization’s culture.” This means normalizing the conversation about mental health in everyday interactions, granting paid mental health leaves, or even giving special mental health assistance to employees being groomed for leadership roles so they do not feel overwhelmed or stressed. “This way, the mental health program becomes holistic and robust, not just something offered on the side,” he adds.

“Workplace stress is a management issue,”

Eric Santillan

“Workplace stress is a management issue,” Eric concludes. A great manager is aware of their team member’s stress levels and takes proactive steps to reduce stress in the workplace. By reducing workplace stress, you not only improve the lives of your team members, you create an environment where they enjoy coming to work each day and become more productive. 


MindNation is a mental health and well-being company that uses a data-based approach to create proactive, customized, holistic health programs for your employees. Partner with us to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit www.themindnation.com now!

Categories
Employee Wellness

Creating Safe Spaces: 5 Ways To Manage Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying is defined as “repeated mistreatment of an employee by one or more employees; abusive conduct that is threatening, humiliating, or intimidating; work sabotage; or verbal abuse.” This is according to the Workplace Bullying Institute, the first and only organization in the United States dedicated to the eradication of workplace bullying.

Workplace bullying is more prevalent than we think. According to a worldwide poll conducted last October 2019 by global online employment solution firm Monster, 90% of respondents said they have been bullied at work. Of these 51% said they were bullied by their superiors, nearly 40% said their bullying came from a fellow coworker, while 4% said they were bullied by a client, customer, or someone else other than a coworker.

What workplace bullying looks like

According to MindNation psychologist Jessa Mae Rojas, examples of workplace bullying include targeted jokes, being purposely misled about work duties, continued denial of requests for time off without an appropriate or valid reason, threats, humiliation, and other verbal abuse, and excessive performance monitoring.

She clarifies, however, that criticism is not always bullying. “If the criticism is relayed objectively, constructively, and directly related to workplace behavior or job performance, then it is not workplace bullying,” she explains. “It becomes bullying only if the criticism is meant to intimidate, humiliate, or single someone out without reason.”

Effects of workplace bullying

A bullied employee can develop physical issues such as digestive problems,  high blood pressure, or have trouble sleeping. They may also suffer from mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and even suicidal thoughts. Business leaders need to address workplace bullying because it can impact the organization negatively in the following ways:

  • Financial loss resulting from legal costs or bullying investigations
  • Decreased productivity and morale
  • Increased employee absences
  • High turnover rates
  • Poor team dynamics
  • Reduced trust, effort, and loyalty from employees

What you can do

As a leader, here are some ways you can manage workplace bullying:

  1. Keep communication lines open. “Regularly check in with your team to find out if bullying is occurring, or if there are factors likely to increase the risk of workplace bullying,” Jessa explains.
  2. Offer employees easy-to-access, confidential mental health benefits with a focus on preventative tools and intervention.
  1. Address all concerns and all forms of aggression. Adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards inappropriate behavior. “Additionally, periodically review your organization’s anti-bullying policies and procedures so team members feel safe and supported in raising a complaint when it first arises,” she suggests.
  2. Arrange, support, and attend training. Teach staff how to resolve conflicts peacefully, give feedback constructively, or reduce their unconscious bias.
  3. Assess your leadership style. According to the Monster poll on bullying, more than half of bullied employees said that their workplace bully was their boss. “So review your own actions to know if your behavior might cross the line to bullying. Ask a trusted colleague for their opinion, and seek help if needed,” Jessa says.

Workplace bullying impacts the morale, retention, and productivity of everyone in the team. As a leader, don’t wait for workplace bullying to become a problem before you address it. Creating a safe space at work makes good sense from a physical, mental, and financial perspective. MindNation conducts virtual trainings on managing difficult conversations at work, reducing unconscious bias, and creating safe spaces at work so that your team can manage conflict peacefully and get along with others. Email [email protected] to book a training now!

Categories
Employee Wellness

#RESHAPE21: How top companies 3M and Bloomberg are addressing Mental Health in the Workplace

Last September 15-16, MindNation had the privilege of being part of Insider’s RESHAPE 2021, the world’s largest leadership and experience summit, sharing the global stage with no less than US President Barack Obama and other top business and thought leaders.

MindNation Chief Marketing Officer Cat Triviño presided over a panel discussion about mental health in the workplace with Alisha Fernando, Head of Diversity & Inclusion for APAC of financial, software, data, and media company Bloomberg, and Kevin McGuigan, Vice-President & Managing Director for SEA of multinational conglomerate 3M.

“Even prior to the pandemic, mental health has already been a global concern, with anxiety and depresison at all time highs and even suicide being the leading cause of death in many countries,” Cat pointed out in her opening statement. For instance, a 2018 survey by the City Mental Health Alliance in Hong Kong revealed that 37% of respondents claimed to have, at some point in their lifetime, experienced mental ill health while in employment. Other research revealed that 25% of working people in Hong Kong showed levels of depression and anxiety that are 2.5 times the global average.

Not surprisingly, these numbers have risen this past year because of the psychological effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Philippines, particularly, results of a Pulse Survey conducted by MindNation of over 5,000 workers found that mental health challenges are affecting 1 in every 3 employees, leading to productivity losses that cost companies up to PHP7 million per year (for every 1,000 employees).

Companies must take an active approach to mental health to combat mental health problems in the workplace. “At 3M, we strongly believe that there is no one that should struggle with mental health alone,” Kevin says. “As an employer, it is our responsibility to ensure that all of our employees feel that they are working in a safe place, that they’re comfortable to be themselves.

Here are some ways 3M and Bloomberg are building a company culture where mental health is valued, accepted, and supported:

  1. Keeping lines of communication open. “We encourage our managers and employees to find a way to connect with each other in ways that are not just tied to work,” Kevin explains. “When I start one-on-one meetings or group meetings, I go out of my way to spend the first few minutes just talking to the individual or the team and asking them ‘How are things going? How’s your family doing?’ This is my way of really striving to make people feel comfortable to express themselves.”

    Additionally, Kevin hosts frequent roundtable sessions and town hall meetings, as well as put out regular Pulse Surveys, in order to get feedback from his team. “These build trust and show that we are able to have candid conversations about what’s working and what’s not,” he says.
  1. Normalizing conversations regarding mental health. “Storytelling is such a powerful tool to address [the stigma surrounding mental health],” Alisha shares. “Everytime I tell someone ‘Hey, I suffer from anxiety and I am getting professional help for it,’ they are shocked and surprised at first, but when we talk about it some more and they see that I am able to live a normal life and have a good job, they realize that having mental health challenges is not shameful or taboo. Sharing personal stories is one way we can shift the way people view mental health.”
  2. Providing flexible work programs. “At 3M, we have a ‘Work Your Way’ program, which not only says you can choose WHERE you want to work — 100% remote, 100% onsite, or a hybrid mode — you can also select the hours you want to work,” Kevin says. “This is because we know that people have been [affected] throughout the pandemic, and allowing them to take two hours off work to go to a therapy appointment, for example, is one way we want to make things easier for them.”
  3. Not viewing mental health treatment as a one-size fits all approach. “No two people experience a mental health challenge the same way; for example, some people thrive on stress and can work really well, but others don’t thrive under stress and it impacts their productivity,” Alisha shares. “So addressing mental health in the workplace comes down to knowing the employee as an individual , understanding what they need, and figuring out how we can best support them,” Alisha points out.

Bloomberg and 3M’s efforts to actively address mental health at work are paying off. “Interestingly, Bloomberg has performed remarkably well over the last 18 months of the pandemic,” she shares. “I credit that to all of the support that we have been providing so that our leaders know how to take care of our people better. Now, not only are our people thriving, our business is as well.”

MindNation uses a data-based approach to create proactive, customized, holistic health programs for your employees. Partner with us to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit www.themindnation.com now!

Categories
Featured

Piril Yagli: Bringing Mental Health In The Workplace Front And Center

Piril Yagli started her career in Insights and Analytics 15 years ago at multinational corporation Procter & Gamble, where she conducted consumer research on the preferences, attitudes, motivations, and buying behavior of people buying fast-moving consumer goods.

In 2020, she joined MindNation as its Chief Insights & Analytics Officer, this time surveying the preferences, attitudes, and motivations of clients towards work and their mental health. Thanks to the data that she and her team are able to gather, MindNation is able to customize its Employee Assistance Program to meet the specific needs of an employee in an organization, a rarity in the mental health care industry where most EAPs only offer fixed packages. 

“I believe that a true mental health and well-being program is and should go beyond just providing a standard one-size-fits-all service,” Piril explains. This is because the people who comprise an organization have different needs and challenges, depending on their age, gender, educational attainment, or even socioeconomic background. 

“In a company, you have all kinds of employees — from white collar to blue collar, from members of GenZ to GenX, all  with completely different challenges that need to be addressed,” she points out. “For instance, our data shows that young, less experienced employees in a business process outsourcing company would like to learn about curbing loneliness during the lockdown or avoiding burnout. On the other hand, more seasoned employees are more interested in finding out how they can work better with younger team members or how they can provide better guidance or support. A one-size-fits all approach cannot fully cover all these needs.”


The importance of Pulse Surveys

MindNation gets its data through Pulse Surveys, biannual online surveys that are conducted the moment the client signs up with the company. “Through Pulse Surveys, we try to extract three types of information. The first is how employees feel about their mental health and well-being status, and if they feel satisfied with their company’s efforts,” Piril enumerates. “Next is to establish a benchmark so that we can track progress and revise the program accordingly. Lastly, we want to figure out the key stressors that employees are facing and what remedies they are after so that we can address the challenges directly.”

The MindNation Pulse Survey differs from the surveys of other EAP companies in two ways: first of all, MindNation created a proprietary Company WellBeing Score©,  a single sum generated from the different variables in the survey. “We use this score to track, measure, and compare one company to another,” Piril explains.

Which brings us to the second unique feature of MindNation Pulse Surveys — comparisons. “MindNation is able to compare data and scores of different companies because of our extensive database, which has responses from over 15,000 employees and growing, ” Piril proudly shares. “This allows us to tell a company ‘This is the state of your team’s well-being versus those of others in the same industry,’ and then follow-up with suggestions on how they can do better.” 


Wake-up call

That being said, business leaders should not feel disheartened or question their leadership skills if their companies get a low score in the Pulse Surveys. “A big portion of employees in every company, across all industries, are facing mental health and well-being challenges during this pandemic,” Piril points out. “Business leaders should not take alarming Pulse Survey results as a poor reflection of themselves. Instead, they should treat it as a wake-up call, as an opportunity to immediately correct ‘mistakes’ and provide resources so employees can have better well-being.” 

For Piril, what is important is that leaders be open, listen, understand and act in urgency to meet the needs of the employees, whether it’s providing access to psychologists and WellBeing Coaches or tailoring webinars to topics that interest their team members.

“From our analysis, we found out that on average 8% of the employee population in the Philippines has suicidal or self-harmful thoughts,” Piril reveals.

They especially need to be proactive in addressing the needs of employees who are suicidal, of which there is an increasing number. This is according to the analysis of suicidal thinking employees in the MindNation Pulse Survey database. “From our analysis, we found out that on average 8% of the employee population in the Philippines has suicidal or self-harmful thoughts,” Piril reveals. “Assuming that there are 41 million active employees in the Philippines, this means that around 3.3 million employees need immediate help.” 

Importance of suicide prevention policies in the workplace 

Employers need to provide help because suicidal employees are the ones facing more productivity loss, taking more sick leaves, and thinking about quitting the company more than the average employee. So by prioritizing the mental health and well-being of their organization, leaders are not only saving 8% of their workforce, they are also improving productivity, and positively impacting the bottom line. 

Organizations can do this by paying attention to and making mental health services a basic benefit for all employees, stopping stigma in the workplace by cultivating a safe space for mental health discussions, and ensuring that each employee has someone to talk to curb their feelings of loneliness especially during these times of isolation and uncertainty.

Download the MindNation Suicide In the Philippine Workforce 2021 toolkit now to learn not only about suicide prevention, but also enhance your capacities to support employees who may be struggling with varying mental health issues and suicidal ideation. http://bit.ly/mn-suicide2021

How is your team doing lately? Message [email protected] to find out how we can set up a Pulse Survey for your organization.

Categories
Suicide Prevention

Stop The Stigma: Debunking The Top 5 Suicide Myths And Facts

CONTENT WARNING: This article includes descriptions of suicide that may disturb some readers.

Despite increased awareness drives about mental health challenges in recent years, suicide continues to be a serious public health issue. According to the World Health Organization, more than 700,000 people die by suicide every year; this number does not include those who attempt to die by suicide and survive. Even more troubling: suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in 15-19-year-olds. 

Unfortunately, many of us do not recognize the signs that someone is at risk for suicide or self-harm because of the many misconceptions society has about it. Additionally, the stigma prevents those with suicidal ideation to get the help they need to get better. 

“Not talking about suicide does not prevent suicide,” point out Luis Villarroel of Kintsugi-Psy. “All it does is make suicidal ideation cultivate in secret rather than out in the open, where people can help one another and address their issues.” 

Luis shares five common and harmful suicide myths and provides the facts to debunk them: 

Myth: Talking about suicide will lead to and encourage suicide.
Fact: On the contrary, talking about suicide allows individuals with suicidal ideations to seek help, rethink their opinions, and share their story with others so they do not feel hopeless and alone. “Anytime someone initiates a conversation about wanting to take their lives, we should take it as a call for help and never assume that they are joking,” Luis adds. 

Myth: Suicide attempts happen without warning.
Fact:
“Suicides are very rarely spur-of-the-moment occurrences,” Luis says. “Individuals who are suicidal show warning signs, especially to their loved ones, but it’s possible that these loved ones did not recognize those signs. This is why it may seem like the suicide was sudden.” 

Some warning signs of suicide include:

  • Withdrawal from friends, family and community
  • Dramatic change in behavior
  • Giving away possessions
  • Tying up loose ends, like organizing personal papers or paying off debts

“While it’s possible that there are other explanations for the above behavior, it’s always better to be safe than sorry,” Luis explains. “Reach out to the person and ask ‘Are you okay?’ or ‘How are you doing lately?’” If they don’t want to share, don’t force this issue, just say “That’s fine, I just wanted to know how you were,” or “Glad to know you’re okay, I’m always here if you need me.’”

But if you are really concerned or have concrete evidence that the person is attempting suicide:

  • Don’t leave the person alone.
  • Call your local emergency number right away. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room yourself.
  • Try to find out if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs or may have taken an overdose.
  • Tell a family member or friend right away what’s going on.
  • Encourage the person to call a suicide hotline number
  • Get help from a trained professional

Myth: People who attempt suicide and survive will never attempt it again.
Fact:
This myth comes from the belief that the physical pain of self-harm will deter someone with suicidal ideation from further attempts. “But people who attempt suicide already believe that death is a preferable alternative to their current situation,” Luis explains. “So if they survived their attempt but the circumstances that led them to think about suicide do not change, you can expect that the attempt will repeat. Maybe the method used to end their lives will be different, but the ideation will still be there.”

Suicide attempts should be taken as call for help. Loved ones must work together to let the person with suicidal ideation see that other options for staying safe or solving their problems are available to them. 

Myth: Suicide only affects individuals with a mental health condition.
Fact:
According to the National Alliance On Mental Illness, many individuals with mental illness are not affected by suicidal thoughts, just as not all people who attempt or die by suicide have mental illness. Relationship problems and other life stressors such as criminal/legal matters, persecution, eviction/loss of home, death of a loved one, a devastating or debilitating illness, trauma, sexual abuse, rejection, and recent or impending crises are also associated with suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Myth: If a person is serious about killing themselves, there is nothing that we can do.
Fact:
“There is always something you can do; the question is, what are you willing to do?” Luis points out. “Reaching out is one thing, but don’t leave it at that. When someone expresses struggles or pain, take the extra step, be it helping the victim of an abusive relationship leave, or connecting someone with depression to a mental health professional. Show your concern in concrete ways.”

As individuals, we should not be afraid to speak up about suicide, mental illness, or to seek out treatment for an individual who is in need. Eliminating the stigma starts by understanding why suicide occurs and advocating for mental health awareness within our communities. Start by sharing articles on suicide awareness and prevention, as well as those related to mental health;  additionally, look for and connect with groups that have the similar objective of wanting to remove the stigma surrounding suicide. 

“Breaking the stigma  about suicide is going to be hard, you may encounter resistance because of the stigma surrounding it,” Luis admits. “But suicide is something that we have to accept is a reality in our society, and talking about it can help any individual who is struggling with unhealthy thoughts and emotions get the help they need.” 

If you or a loved one is in crisis, the MindNation Chat Helpline is available 24/7 if you need someone to talk to. Additionally, MindNation psychologists are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions via sms chat, video chat, or voice call. Rest assured that all conversations are secure and will be kept confidential. Chat with a friend or book a session now though bit.ly/themindnationchat. 

Categories
Suicide Prevention

5 Key Strategies for Suicide Prevention In The Workplace

Executing a successful suicide prevention program at work requires making sure that there are enough people trained to recognise the risk and taking steps to provide appropriate and effective support. Here are some ways you can achieve this:

  1. Promote good mental health and destigmatize mental health problems
    The best prevention strategy is early intervention. Leaders can help reduce the risk for suicide by building a culture where mental health matters and asking for help is not taboo. You can do this by talking about mental health and therapy in company-wide meetings or mid-level manager one-on-one meetings to promote its importance and advocating or promoting pro-mental health work benefits such as paid mental health days, sufficient vacation time, and other policies that acknowledge the importance of both physical and mental health.
  2. Extend support and psychological health services.
    According to the results of the MindNation 2020 Pulse Survey, 42% of employees named “access to psychologists” as one of the top ways companies can support their mental health and well-being.
  3. Reduce stress at work.
    It’s important that managers help employees maintain work-life balance and make time for self-care so that they can manage stress better. This can be done by fostering an atmosphere where a direct report can bring feedback whenever they need assistance, and setting clear goals and then giving employees the freedom they need to reach those goals.
  4. Prevent and take action against bullying and harassment.
    Bullying, harassment, and intimidation in the workplace adds to stress at work, which can aggravate mental health challenges and increase the risk of suicide. Employers have a legal and moral obligation to provide a safe and positive work environment in which the rights of all employees are respected equally. You can do this by adopting a zero-tolerance policy towards bullying in any form, and act swiftly and decisively when allegations are made.
  5. Educate and train managers and other key staff on mental health and suicide prevention.
    Managers are in the best position to observe changes in behaviour or hear from co-workers that someone appears to be having difficulties. MindNation conducts virtual trainings on topics like Mental Health First Aid and Managing Depression And Suicide to boost awareness as well as interpersonal and social competencies.  

To learn how to execute these strategies properly and how MindNation can help you, download our Suicide in the Philippine Workforce 2021 toolkit now: http://bit.ly/mn-suicide2021.

Visit www.mindnation.com or email [email protected] to know more about mental health services for the workplace.