September 10, 2020

Stripes August HR Connect Series: Steps Employers Can Take to Prioritize Their Employees' Mental Health & Wellness

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Each month, the Stripes Talent Team hosts a virtual meeting, “HR Connect” for the People Leaders at our portfolio companies where we discuss people-related topics most relevant to our teams.

August’s session was a panel discussion on Mental Health & Wellness. With COVID-19 and the social injustices we are facing, companies and their employees are coping with new emotions and experiences that are directly affecting their overall health and wellbeing.

Our panelists addressed how leaders can best support their teams in the face of new stressors, feelings of grief, and added responsibilities. We are thankful to draw insights from:

  • Courtney Goldman (Moderator), VP People & Development at Stripes
  • Emily Duff, Benefits Partner at Udemy
  • Liz Eddy, Co-Founder & CEO at Lantern, Board Member at Experience Camps
  • Karena Dawn, Co-Founder at Tone It Up, Board Member at National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
  • Kellie Wagner, Founder & CEO at Collective, Board Member at Experience Camps

We thank our incredibly informed and insightful panelists for taking the time to participate while they are facing many of the issues we discussed during our session.

To view a recording of this session, please click here.

Our panelists shared key takeaways that companies should keep in mind when considering the mental health and wellness of their teams:

  1. Create a psychologically safe environment when opening up the conversation around mental health. Companies strive for an open environment where employees can bring their whole selves to work. Kellie Wagner suggested normalizing mental health issues by treating them just like any other health issues employees face and allowing them to take the time they need to feel better. Removing stigma by talking openly about your own experiences with mental health and wellness can also promote a safe environment. Managers should have conversations with their direct reports on what they need when mental health issues arise and set up action plans/boundaries proactively. Do they need a day off? How can we best support them? Do they want to talk about it?

  2. Put together a benefits portfolio that addresses the mental health and wellbeing of your team. In our new normal, there are new priorities and needs popping up that may not have been on our radar 6 months ago. When putting together your benefits portfolio, make sure you are reflecting your employees’ needs right now. Emily Duff has put together a suite of benefits at Udemy that takes a holistic approach when addressing their employees’ mental, physical, financial, and familial needs during this time. See below for a list of some timely and relevant benefits Udemy includes in their portfolio:
    • Modern Health: Modern Health is a mental well-being platform for innovative companies that want to reduce burnout and prevent turnover.
    • Origin: Origin is a platform that provides insurance and financial services.
    • Headspace – Headspace is a digital health platform that provides guided meditation sessions and mindfulness training.
    • Wellthy – Wellthy is a software enabled service, providing much-needed expertise and support for families with chronic, ongoing care needs.
    • Employee-led ERGs around Mental Health/Wellness
  3. Support employees who are experiencing grief in various forms. Liz Eddy reminded us we are experiencing grief and loss on a large scale, and grief is showing up in many different forms, be it the loss of a milestone or experience, loss of a loved one, or loss of a job. She encouraged companies to create a bereavement policy if they do not already have one and be sure to educate employees on these benefits early and often – long before a crisis occurs. Communication is also key. Remember that you are not going to fix the problem; The person grieving wants to be seen, heard, and supported.

  4. Increase overall team morale and connectivity through physical and mental wellness programs. Karena Dawn emphasized the importance of shifting our mindset away from what stresses us to a mindset focused on what we are grateful for by practicing meditation, staying active, and eating healthy. At Stripes, we host weekly “Wellness Wednesday” sessions for our team to stay active and connected while remote.

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