3 Strategies for Better Mental Health in the Workplace During a Crisis

The Philippines, in 1957, under Proclamation No. 432 has celebrated every third week of January as National Mental Health Week. More than six decades into its declaration, where does our country stand in its efforts on mental health? Aside from changing the date to coincide with the global celebration every 2nd week of October, the stigma and discrimination around mental health has changed very little throughout the decades. According to WHO, millions of Filipinos are still suffering from mental health illnesses and substance addiction, unbeknownst to untrained eyes. 

Until late in the course of the global pandemic, mental health conditions are a taboo to most family conversations and even to less progressive workplaces. Yet, as more lockdowns have been implemented, exposure to these conditions slowly bridged the gap in understanding the complexity surrounding mental health. Since then, much has been done to support mental well-being in workplaces especially by our Great Place to Work-Certified™ Community. 

Discussing the issues surrounding mental health is not innate in Filipino culture, but leaders must take this initiative now more than ever. In this blog, you’ll learn three key strategies to help you get started on creating the conditions for better mental health in your organization. 

COVID-19 has taken a toll on Holly Petroff’s wellbeing. One that took a while for her to realize.

In a webinar held by Great Place to Work® US, Petroff, executive vice president at Great Place to Work®, told attendees that she was going full-steam at the outset of the work-from-home setup. She even teased her husband for taking naps and going to bed earlier than usual.

Soon after, though, the stress of living through the pandemic caught up with her. She found herself unable to accomplish the tasks she’d planned for a particular weekend. She even needed a nap.

“I was the one who hit the wall,” she said. “I realized that I needed to do a better job–we needed to do a better job–of supporting our mental health.”

Holly shared this story to underscore how important it is for leaders today to attend to the emotional wellbeing of employees. The April 17, 2020 edition of “Together” was devoted to the subject of mental health, as Holly and other Great Place to Work leaders shared personal stories as well as insights from the data we are gathering from clients.

The coronavirus crisis has made employee well-being and mental health a major concern for people across the globe. In our global study on well-being taken in 2021, only 22% of respondents in the Philippines reported experiencing a high level of well-being at work.

These findings are not surprising, given how the disease raises fears of death, of losing loved ones, and of losing livelihoods as social distancing efforts have dramatically slowed the economy.

But there’s hope. High-trust, inclusive organizations are finding ways to care for mental health in the workplace—which in turn is enabling those organizations to thrive. This is true even in industries where the pandemic is putting immense pressure on employees and leaders.

DHL keeps its employees’ health in check during the crisis

DHL Express, for example, has employees in more than 200 countries. These employees deliver packages across the globe, keeping commerce moving despite the presence of the deadly virus. DHL leaders have taken pains to protect employees’ physical health as well as their mental wellbeing. For example:

•  Communicating safety protocols

•  Sending motivational messages to employees through their package scanning devices

•  Offering virtual yoga classes and facilitated meditation sessions.

Like our Greater community, DHL sent out a Great Place to Work employee survey which captured how their people are coping through the coronavirus crisis. DHL employees described their workplace with words such as “care,” “camaraderie,” “family” and “well-being.” And with emotionally healthy employees, the company’s performance is stellar. Its current on-time delivery rate is higher than 99 percent.

How should leaders tackle the mental health issue? Here are three keys from our recent webinar:

3 strategies for better mental health in the workplace

1. Double down on 1:1s

Supporting people’s mental health must be individualized. Employees’ ability and willingness to share how they are during the COVID-19 period varies tremendously.

Connect with your people individually to learn how to assist with emotional wellbeing. Leaders should not pry into employees’ personal lives, but they should do more than merely ask, “how are you?”

Adopting a mindset of “inquire” versus “ask” is helpful. Use specific questions that inquire into emotional wellbeing, such as “are you concerned about any of your friends or family members?” and “do you need any supplies that you can’t get in your area?”

2. Be a vulnerable leader

Just as they role-model other critical behaviors, leaders set the tone on matters of mental health. If managers and executives want their people to be candid about mental health challenges, so those can be addressed, self-disclosure is a great way to begin.

Holly’s story about the drain she was experiencing amid the pandemic showed her admitting a problem and engaging in self-care. It’s the kind of vulnerability that can encourage others to share. “Let people know that you’re tending to your mental health, so they know it’s ok to tend to theirs,” Holly said.

3. Be generous rather than by the book

This is a time to err on the side of big-heartedness. Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work, advised leaders to focus on what people need for psychological safety, rather than following company handbooks and guidelines to a “T.”

That means trusting front-line leaders to do right by their teams. It also means broader acts of goodwill, even if they don’t seem to conform to financial spreadsheets.

“It’s hard to hold all these stresses, and it’s even harder if you’re in it alone. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces™ in Asia by surveying over 1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting over 4.7 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2021 or early 2022.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces in Asia™ by surveying 2.1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting 5.9 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Bahrain, Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2022 or early 2023.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000+) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

For All™ Methodology

Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ 2023 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 450,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

For All™ Methodology

Great Place to Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ 2022 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 130,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

Categories:
These organizations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

  • Small 10-99 Employees

For larger organizations with more than 100 employees, we also use our Culture Audit™ tool, asking organizations to share with us their practices, policies, and programs to create a great workplace For All™ and evaluate the approach they take.

  • Medium 100-999 Employees
  • Large 1000+ Employees

Why do you say in one place your national list scoring is based on 85%/15% and in another place that it is 75%/25%?

We are explaining two different things:
1.  The criteria we evaluate

  •  85% concerned with Trust and Maximizing Human Potential and
  • 15% concerned with everything else

2.  Where the data comes from

  • 100% Trust Index for organizations with less than 100 employees
  • 75% based on the Trust Index survey analytics and 25% based on responses to the Culture Audit for organizations with more than 100 employees.
For All™ Methodology

Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ 2023 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 450,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

Categories:
These organizations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

  • Small 10-99 Employees

For larger organizations with more than 100 employees, we also use our Culture Audit™ tool, asking organizations to share with us their practices, policies, and programs to create a great workplace For All™ and evaluate the approach they take.

  • Medium 100-999 Employees
  • Large 1000+ Employees