Coming together for employee wellbeing

Upcoming event in Toronto will see HR leaders sharing strategies, next steps

Coming together for employee wellbeing

The mental health of the workforce is something that all leaders and HR people have been concerned about since the pandemic began.

While employees hunkered down at home, sometimes in small apartments and condominiums, sometimes while children ran wild in the background, the work still had to be done under challenging circumstances.

Meanwhile, new ways of taking care of workers began to be explored and a holistic response was being employed by organizations, sometimes to great success.

In March, the HRD Wellbeing Summit Canada will bring together senior HR leaders from some of the country’s top organizations to share in-depth knowledge, develop new strategies, and take the next steps in building healthier, happier workforces.

The event, taking place March 1 at the Old Mill Toronto Hotel, will provide an inside look at how leading organizations have treated employee wellbeing and what HR can learn from their experiences.

‘Trust and authenticity’

“It comes down to building trust and authenticity” for the wellness strategy to be successful, so “people feel like the offer of any extension of support is authentic and meaningful, and not just the old [practice of] sliding the employee family assistance brochure across the table and furthering that stigma,” says Lilian Riad-Allen, senior director, workplace health, safety, and wellness at the LCBO in Toronto.

This effort can show that the organization cares by “really leaning in and investing in people, bringing down the stigma, and then making sure that the resources and support you do have meet and support the needs of your population,” says Riad-Allen.

While making an effort is all-important, it’s also key to try new things and “don’t be afraid to fail,” says another senior HR leader.

“Be agile, throw stuff out there. Not everything is going to be successful; think outside of the box. Try something, if it doesn’t work, then pivot,” says Jim Chung, chief medical officer of Air Canada, who will be delivering the keynote speech at the event.

This mantra was illustrated fully by the company when it rolled out a wellness app that had to address the unique needs of the workforce.

“A large component of our workforce is mobile by definition; they work and are mobile. They will layover in Frankfurt for example, or Delhi, so they don’t work in a traditional office. We really did have to invest and develop a good mobile app solution; we’re on version two of our mobile app, which is where you have to adapt quickly,” says Chung.

While the first version was “clunky” and didn’t fully provide what workers needed, version two is “much sleeker and much more user friendly and we had that opportunity to refine and improve it,” he says.

Engagement key

The best programs in the world aren’t worth the expense, if employees aren’t using them and HR needs to balance the delicate dance between encouragement and overstepping boundaries.

Another leader, Melissa Alvares, senior vice-president, marketing and growth at CloudMD, will talk about being truly inclusive and understanding the eight essential elements of a wellness program that your employees will actually use (and love).

Other sessions will educate HR professionals about iCBT in the workplace, creating a sense of belonging and how to develop a holistic wellbeing strategy, among other things.

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