Yoga, Honest Chats and Free Time: How These 3 Companies Are Supporting Mental Health

To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, Built In Colorado caught up with three companies to learn how they’re destigmatizing mental health in the workplace.
Written by Brendan Meyer
May 6, 2021Updated: May 6, 2021

It’s OK to not be OK, and that sentiment especially rings true in the midst of a pandemic, when the constant uncertainty, fear and repetitive nature of the last 14 months has had a great effect on the mental health of many.

That’s why it’s so important to work for a company that supports and acknowledges the need to take care of one’s mental health. But what does that even look like?

At Denver insurtech company Pie Insurance, it’s large swaths of the company breathing a collective “om” from their respective homes in a peer-led yoga class. At Matillion, it’s executive leadership showcasing their vulnerability by having an open discussion about the complicated feelings associated with imposter syndrome. At CirrusMD, it’s cutting their virtual meetings by 25 percent so that everyone can use that extra time on Fridays to close their laptops at 1 p.m., unplug from work and start their weekends early.

To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, Built In Colorado caught up with each of these companies to learn more about how they’re destigmatizing mental health in the workplace, and how they’re supporting their employees.

 

matillion-team-mental-health-Colorado
matillion

 

Vicki Marchington
VP People Ops

What they do

Matillion allows businesses to migrate and transform data into actionable insights to solve business challenges using the power of major cloud data warehouses.

 

How have you created a culture where people feel comfortable having honest conversations about mental health?

Our culture at Matillion has always focused heavily on being authentic and transparent. This transparency covers all areas within Matillion, such as challenges at work, offering feedback to each other, business issues and also mental health.

In the past year, we’ve had two executive “what’s on my mind” Zoom meetings; one with a topic of imposter syndrome, delivered by our VP of engineering, and one with a topic of general mental health challenges, delivered by our chief of staff. This openness from the top has allowed others within the organization to feel empowered to share their issues or reach out for help.


What's one formal program your company has that supports the mental health of your employees?

Over the last year Matillioners have found themselves navigating many new and varied issues that people could not have dreamed of in 2019: kids at home, full lockdown, no social events, no office to visit... the list could go on and on.

We have created a number of tools and tactics to support managers with different levels of mental health.’’

We decided to offer the meditation app Headspace to all of our employees, recognizing the need for people to build their own practices and resilience and also making this a shared experience across the organization. We have a number of success stories where people really benefited from the sleep and the focus part of the app. I use Headspace to help me switch off in the evening and fall asleep more easily, and it's really helped.

 

When employees do come to their managers to discuss mental health issues, how are those situations handled? Do you provide any training to help managers navigate these types of conversations?

It really depends on the severity of the issue. People leaders are empowered to do so if the issue can be addressed through work support, flexible working arrangements or coaching. But if the issue seems more serious, our people ops will guide the manager through the situation with the team, and on rare occasions, the issue will be handed to people ops to step in with medical or more specialized care.

We have created a number of tools and tactics to support managers with different levels of mental health, and our strategy for 2021 includes further development of this as we recognize the challenge of the pandemic and the fact that a return to normal can also bring with it new challenges.

 

Cirrusmd-team-mental-health-Colorado
Cirrusmd
Dena Grablowsky
Strategic Human Resources Consultant

What they do

CirrusMD is a virtual care platform that delivers a chat-first, multi-modal, data-driven platform to enable providers, payers and employers to offer personalized healthcare to their members or employees.

 

How have you created a culture where people feel comfortable having honest conversations about mental health?

We added a Slack channel called “getting me through” early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees use this channel to share tips, support and ways they’ve been able to deal with pandemic stress and working remotely. We’ve found that this Slack channel has been a great way for people to casually ask for ideas, support and guidance to help them get through these tough times without having to explore a more formal avenue for help. But those avenues are available as well.

 

What's one formal offering your company has that supports the mental health of your employees?

In addition to offering and frequently promoting our confidential and free employee assistance program (EAP), as a telehealth company, we also provide our employees with free, direct chat access to our physician network, including those specializing in behavioral health. 

We added a Slack channel called ‘getting me through’ early in the COVID-19 pandemic.’’

In an effort to combat virtual meeting fatigue, we instituted a companywide challenge at the end of 2020 to decrease Zoom usage 25 percent by the end of Q1 of 2021. We launched the initiative in early January and dubbed it “Space Race 2021.” The name was meant to conjure up the ambitious goal-setting of the 1960s space race and also refer to freeing up blocks of time on employee calendars. The reward for accomplishing our collective 25 percent reduction in Zoom meeting times was starting our “Summer Friday” afternoon work closure at 1 p.m. in April instead of after Memorial Day. We did it! The team accomplished our goal and now we’re all enjoying Summer Fridays.

 

When employees do come to their managers to discuss mental health issues, how are those situations handled? Do you provide any training to help managers navigate these types of conversations?

Our managers work hard to build relationships to better understand their staff. When employees discuss mental health challenges with their manager, the manager is able to listen and explore if work or other factors are contributing to the issues and if so, managers have full authority to adjust work requirements to best support their team members. Often the manager will provide the EAP contact information, recommend that the employee reach out to one of CirrusMD’s behavioral health physicians on confidential chat or reach out to HR to explore ways we can better support the employee. 

 

pie-insurance-team-mental-health-colorado
pie insurance
Lauri Putt Needleman
Head of People & Talent

What they do

Pie is on a mission to make insurance less expensive, simpler and more transparent for small business owners.

 

How have you created a culture where people feel comfortable having honest conversations about mental health?

In the past year, our team members have experienced significant stress resulting from traumatic events alongside the entire global community. At Pie, we’ve responded to these events by providing opportunities for support and connection. We partnered with an organization to facilitate crisis support sessions with a licensed therapist. As a leader, I’ve shared my own experiences with trauma during these sessions, and found that it created a safe space for others to be vulnerable. We’ve also recruited Pie yogis to lead virtual yoga sessions and engaged professionals to lead us in guided meditation and mindfulness sessions. We encourage team members to take time off for mental health by providing wellness and gratitude days in addition to our existing paid time-off programs.

 

What's one formal offering your company has that supports the mental health of your employees?

We have a company-sponsored, Pie-oneer-led wellness committee that focuses on providing quarterly activities that support many aspects of our health. The team has organized yoga and meditation sessions with fellow Pie-oneers and professionals along with step and running competitions. This year the team will expand their offerings to also include financial health.  

We’ve also recruited Pie yogis to lead virtual yoga sessions and engaged professionals to lead us in guided meditation and mindfulness sessions.’’

When employees do come to their managers to discuss mental health issues, how are those situations handled? Do you provide any training to help managers navigate these types of conversations?

All of our team members and leaders are expected to live by our company values, including respect and trust. People leaders are trained to personally check-in with their team members during weekly one-on-one meetings, especially after traumatic events. When our team members have experienced a mental health issue, our leaders respond with respect and compassion while sharing company-sponsored resources such as our employee assistance program and our partnership with mobile therapy company Talkspace.

 

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