Tina Yonemitsu of M&M Food Market outlines the company's EAP
Employee wellbeing has been at the center of discussions on workplace culture in recent years, brought to the fore by the COVID-19 pandemic. For M&M Food Market, caring about its people means formulating a wellness strategy that considers the four pillars of wellbeing: physical, social, financial, and mental.
Tina Yonemitsu, M&M’s associate director of people, recently discussed the firm’s employee assistance program (EAP) with Canadian HR Reporter. The program was inspired by the need to support employees who were experiencing challenges during the pandemic, she says.
“We really wanted to make sure that there was a resource to support our team members, even though we couldn’t be together. And so, we really looked for an EAP that was accessible, that was practical, and that offered different tools for team members, depending on what they might be challenged with at the time,” she explained.
This accessible platform offers resources and information in various areas, including anxiety, depression, childcare, and finance. Yonemitsu pointed out the importance of telephone support for employees with mental health issues, as well as workplace recognition and social interaction through a chat platform. Rewards and perks are also available, along with informative blogs, videos and webcasts, and reading assessments.
Mental health is the area where the pandemic’s impact on EAP offerings is most evident, she says, and the circumstances have highlighted the value of awareness and empathy in the workplace.
“Probably one of the most significant things to come from the pandemic, and certainly for us as an employer, is a real awareness of mental health challenges and the need for resources. That’s really driven EAP offerings. What’s included in them? What types of resources are provided? And certainly, the fact that we’re working and living in a much more remote world now without physical access to some of the resources we had before. A lot of the EAPs have leveraged that as well, so our team members can access everything virtually via phone as needed.”
M&M will continue to encourage its employees to use the wellness platform, which features a newsfeed through which management communicates with the workforce. M&M also has an internal training system that is used for regular messaging.
“We talk to our team, and we want to also listen and hear from them. So, we talk about the resources at real rallies, at town halls, whenever we can. An important part of wellness is talking about and listening to what team members need, and being empathetic to the challenges that they’re having,” says Yonemitsu.
To measure the program’s success, M&M’s management uses a dashboard that shows the tools that employees use most frequently. The company will use such information, as well as the insights they hear directly from employees, so the EAP will evolve as the team evolves, she says.