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Mental Health

What Are Companies Doing For Their Employee’s Mental Health?

April 27, 2022
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7 mins

These companies are breaking the mental health stigma in the workplace. Find out what companies are doing for their employee's mental health straight from top leaders.

Sarah Archer
These companies are breaking the mental health stigma in the workplace. Find out what companies are doing for their employee's mental health straight from top leaders.

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four people in the world are affected by mental illness at some point in their lives. 

Yet for something affecting millions of people, it’s often seen as taboo in the workplace. In our most recent report, we found that 63% of remote leaders have experienced burnout or mental health issues over the past six months. 

That statistic alone sheds light on what could happen if companies continue to ignore mental health in the workplace (hint: The Great Resignation). 

However, we’re seeing more and more companies hire roles to tackle employee well-being head on. We spoke to top leaders to learn more about what their company is doing for their employees' mental health and why they’re doing it. Here’s what they said, starting from small benefits to fully fledged programs.

1. TestBox

TestBox is a tool used to test and compare software before you buy. The startup has less than 20 employees, but that hasn’t stopped them from instilling and acting on their people-first values from the start. 

We spoke with Sam Senior, CEO and Co-Founder of TestBox, who said, “Before my Co-Founder, Peter and I founded TestBox, we made a commitment to both go to therapy consistently. Being founders isn't an easy feat, and we wanted to ensure that we had the tools, knowledge, and a strong sense of self before we brought any employees on, especially during times of stress.”

That made opening up the opportunity for their staff to have access to therapy a no-brainer.

TestBox offers its employees $50 per week (or $200 per month) for therapy. They have the autonomy to use it for any way they seek therapy — whether that’s in-person sessions, video chats, or through an app.

“We also wanted mental health to be a core pillar in our company culture. At TestBox, mental health is an active and consistent conversation we're having as a team. From providing the team with a weekly therapy budget to instilling practices from leaders like Brené Brown in how we communicate with one another internally.” said Senior. 

Hiba Amin, Senior Marketing Manager at TestBox, spoke to us further about how they instill and communicate those best practices. 

“We spent 2-3 hours at our company retreat talking about an excerpt we all read from Dare to Lead,” she said. “The topic that we dove into was doing a better job of communicating with clarity (because clarity is kindness) and also being better at sharing with colleagues the stories that we make up inside our head.”

Sometimes mental health benefits don’t need to be tied to a budget. Holding transparent conversations about mental health recognizes that no one is alone and they’ll always have the support of their colleagues. 

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OLIPOP is a new kind of soda made with all natural ingredients that combine the benefits of prebiotics and plant fiber. Launched in 2017, the company has grown to nearly 85 employees since then. 

We spoke with Melanie Bedwell, eCommerce Manager at OLIPOP, who explained why they start their weekly team meetings with meditation. 

“Meditation has been known to improve concentration, boost creativity, rewire the brain, reduce anxiety, and improve memory. There’s also a clear connection between the gut and the brain. At OLIPOP we’re all about one’s gut health, so meditation is a no-brainer for us when we learned it can potentially impact your gut health in a positive way. It’s an amazing tool that has allowed our team members reset whenever they need it.”

She went on to explain that mental health is talked about regularly in the workplace and there's not a stigma surrounding it. 

“We also have held team yoga sessions, outdoor hikes, and group fitness classes. We believe mental health is one component of our overall health which we take seriously as a company,” Bedwell explained. 

Beyond regular meditation practice, OLIPOP offers 99% paid medical, dental, and vision insurance. Mental health services such as therapy appointments are covered under their medical insurance plan. 

3. Oyster

Oyster is an HR platform that allows distribution companies to hire, pay, manage, and take care of their team anywhere in the world. The company took the world of remote work by storm launching in 2020, and with only two years under its belt, they’ve officially reached a unicorn valuation

Even during hyper-growth, Oyster hasn’t lost sight of what’s important: a company culture where their employees come first. 

We spoke to Kim Rohrer, Oyster's Head of Employee Experience, who said, "At Oyster, we are creating a culture where mental health and wellbeing are top priorities for everyone on the team. We recognize the importance of normalizing mental health challenges and work hard to support our team through everyday struggles, serious mental health issues, and everything in between.”

Oyster does that through Kona check-ins, #mental-health, and #mental-wealth Slack channels (where people share openly and support generously), access to free therapy via Plumm, and frequent communication from leaders about taking time off.

“Our executives share their own challenges, team members extend kindness and empathy to one another, and we lean on our values of Elevating Talent, Building Trust, and Thriving Together in order to put the human experience at the center of our employee experience,” Rohrer explained. 

4. HubSpot

Hubspot, the marketing, sales, customer service, and CRM software, has nearly 6,000 employees working remotely or hybrid around the world. 

Their benefit offerings are highly competitive including unlimited vacation, a global week of rest, a one-month sabbatical after five years, and more. 

But what caught our eye is their focus on the mental health of their staff. In addition to healthcare coverage, they offer HubCare, which is a global employee assistance program that provides mental health resources with certified clinicians via phone, email, chat, and video 24/7. In addition, they offer Modern Health, fitness reimbursement, nutrition consultations, and workshops on mindfulness, stress management, and more. 

5. GitLab

GitLab, a DevOps software, is well-known for being fully distributed and sharing public-facing documentation with the world. So much so, that tech companies look to them for advice when it comes to leadership, management, and remote work best practices. 

Within their extensive company handbook is detailed information on their approach to mental health in the workplace. They support taking mental health days, taking vacation, setting clear boundaries between work and home, and much more. 

Every employee has access to health care services through Modern Health, which offers therapy, well-being assessment, courses, community sessions, and more. In addition, their #mindfulness and #mental-health-aware Slack channels offer a medium for non-work conversations about mental health. 

6. Salesforce

Salesforce, a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, offers numerous mental health benefits to its nearly 75,000 employees.

Chief Marketing and Engagement Officer, Cristina Jones, said, “We believe that mental health, health equity, workforce development are all connected — you can’t separate one from the other. If team members are facing mental health struggles or family challenges, it absolutely impacts their ability to excel at work.”

Their public-facing mental wellbeing employee resource shares tips for stress management, therapy and coaching, substance abuse support, and time off. Beyond that, Salesforce offers its employees access to Thriving Mind, the Plum Village meditation app, and free counseling services. 

7. Microsoft

We can’t write a post on mental health benefits without mentioning Microsoft. The corporation employs more than 181,000 people globally, 103,000 of whom are located in the U.S.

Microsoft has a robust explanation of its U.S. benefit offerings, which include wellbeing programs, employee resource groups (ERGs), paid time off, and health insurance. The benefits that stood out to us were: 

  • Reimbursement for up to $1,200 per year for employee-only wellness-related expenses that help you get and stay fit physically, emotionally, and financially.
  • Access to Be Well, a coaching-based program with weekly seminars and resources dedicated to supporting your mental and emotional health and wellbeing.
  • Access to Microsoft Cares where they offer a self-help library, counselor resources, health risk assessments, and more. 

Kathleen Hogan, Chief People Officer at Microsoft, has transformed the company’s culture over the past seven years. Hogan explained the power of surveying their people: “Investing in data and insights, and then trying to operationalize those insights, has been absolutely essential.”

Through those insights, Microsoft has been able to offer extended benefits in response to the pandemic, such as five additional paid wellness days, mental health help, and a 12-week parental paid leave policy to allow parents to take time off as schools and daycares closed down due to COVID-19.

8. Unilever

Unilever is a multinational consumer goods company with nearly 150,000 people on staff

Unilever is clear about their commitment to promoting a positive physical, mental, and emotional environment for their employees. They do that by breaking the stigma of mental health through these four categories: culture, leadership, prevention, and support. 

That means they offer educational resources, build awareness among leadership, share self-help tools for individuals and teams, and offer access to expert mental health support. They also recognize World Mental Health Day and saw more than 48,000 employees engage with their internal event last year. 

9. Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young (EY) is one of the Big Four accounting firms, but their reputation for dominating the accounting business isn’t their only claim to fame. EY’s commitment to their employee’s mental health has made headlines over the few years for their “r u ok?” campaign. 

In an effort to break the mental health stigma, EY’s “r u ok?” campaign connects employees to internal resources, offers virtual events and presentations, facilitates peer-to-peer connections, and runs e-learning curriculums. 

Alongside the campaign, they have a Better You program, which offers emotional, physical, social, and financial well-being resources.

In addition, EY offers health insurance benefits, 19 paid holidays, 10 days of paid personal care, and a flexible vacation policy that allows employees to use their discretion with paid time off. 

10. Starbucks

Starbucks, the well-known coffee company, employs more than 350,000 people worldwide. But they see their employees as much more than baristas — they call their employees “partners” because everyone contributed to their shared success. 

Starbucks prides themselves on their culture and values, part of which supports employee well-being and mental health. 

In 2020, Starbucks announced that they will offer all of their U.S. employees and eligible family members access to 20 free sessions a year with a mental health therapist or coach through Lyra Health. In addition, they’re offered a comprehensive health benefits package and access to Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to bring employees with common interests together. 

Our mission at Kona is to make empathy mainstream at work, and we love getting behind companies that make an effort to do that by breaking the mental health stigma at work. 

Does your company offer amazing mental health benefits? We want to know. Reach out to Sarah to share your company's well-being story to get featured.

Meet the Author

Sarah Archer

Sarah is Head of Content Strategy at Kona and MBA candidate at Boston University. She helps leaders prevent burnout and build culture in remote organizations.

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