Telus Communications Inc. is training its people leaders to recognize when employees are experiencing mental-health struggles.
The organization provides leaders with scripts to refer to when they recognize an employee needs help. The scripts guide managers through broaching the conversation, directing employees to the appropriate company support tools, following up with the individual and maintaining confidentiality.
Company leaders have a lot to juggle, says Janet Young, director of well-being and health services and people and culture at Telus, noting leaders are on the front lines when it comes to building a culture of well-being and mental-health support. “They are a key component because they have visibility to the various stresses and . . . understand the business implications.”
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Nearly all of the organization’s 3,000 company leaders have participated in the training. In light of this response, Telus has launched a similar program for all employees. And new employees are also expected to take the training during their onboarding process.
Telus encourages its leaders to pause and take time off and to use the support tools available to ensure they’re modelling good mental-health and wellness behaviours for employees, says Young, adding the company wants leaders to treat self-care like another aspect of their responsibilities. “[It’s] absolutely vital . . . to [leaders’] success and . . . well-being. And that seems to be resonating.”
To ensure the message is getting through to all employees, the organization constantly communicates information on its well-being benefits offerings. These offerings include an employee assistance program, a mental-health toolkit and coverage for psychology benefits — up to $5,000 a year per employee and per dependant.
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Indeed, Young says leaders are now reaching out to her department to schedule information sessions about Telus’ mental-health benefits, the effects of chronic stress, burnout, the importance of self-care and how to create a psychologically safe environment.
Ignoring the mental health of all employees can lead to lost productivity and engagement and can result in increased costs in short- and long-term disability, she adds. “The relationship between employees and their managers is the single most important factor in whether a worker stays with a company or leaves. It’s important managers are adequately trained to foster their own well-being so they can lead by example in a humanistic way in this new [working] environment.”