Purolator Inc. is adapting its benefits plan to proactively respond to employees’ mental-health needs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The company has expanded both the dollar value and scope of its mental-health benefits offering, including access to cognitive behavioural therapy and social workers, says Anna Manocchio, senior director of total rewards and human resources technology at Purolator.

“[The expansion of the benefits offering] really reinforces the toll the pandemic has had on mental health, but I’m happy to see [employees] are utilizing these resources. Early access to care is so critical. Wait times for a psychologist can be months and when you’re suffering from a mental-health condition you need help early and sooner rather than later.”

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Purolator is also supporting employees’ mental and physical well-being through its partnership with Cleveland Clinic Canada. The collaboration has informed and guided the company’s employee health strategy by providing access to a team of health experts, including Dr. Shaan Chugh, who became the company’s chief medical director in 2020.

Dr. Chugh also hosts virtual information sessions focusing on health and well-being, which has been particularly well received by employees, says Manocchio. “The sessions allow our employees to engage and ask questions that are top of mind. We’ve had great participation and we’ll continue to do those sessions post-pandemic, because people see a lot of value in them.”

Manocchio says the company is also making additional investments in mental-health support training for employees. This includes a mental-health first aid responder training program, as well as mental-health crisis intervention training for Purolator’s HR and health and safety professionals and mandatory mental-health training for all employees. “Education and awareness is key to mental health. We started this journey prior to the pandemic and it’s reinforced that we’re on the right path.”

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This focus on mental health has also had a positive effect on company culture and employee engagement, says Manocchio, noting the company’s leadership team and John Ferguson, president and chief executive officer at Purolator, has led the charge in promoting the benefits program’s offerings.

“You can have the greatest benefits program in the world but unless you communicate it you won’t get full utilization. John and our leadership team are very supportive of our mission critical goals and mental-health support. They’ve done a great job of connecting with our employees and resonating these messages.

“Bringing awareness to mental health can influence how employees feel about their own mental-health journey. It opens dialogue, it creates a safe space and we want to ensure we’re being proactive in terms of providing the right resources and support at the right time for our people. By continuing to make well-being a top priority, it supports our employee value proposition and it continues our journey of being an employer of choice.”

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