With nearly 55,000 employees, including 18,000 in Quebec, Bell has trained more than 6,000 managers across the country to equip them to react to mental health problems. This initiative earned the firm the 2014 award for psychological transformation health and well-being, as well as the Gold Medal for Workplace Mental Health from Excellence Canada, a first for a company.
In 2010, we decided to give 67 million dollars to the mental health program established on 4 pillars: the fight against stigmatization, admission to upkeep in the community, research on mental health at work.
The goal? Make a difference in the face of an important issue for the organization, mental health, which represents nearly $50 billion in annual expenditure in the country and affects one in five Canadians.
Bell has chosen to focus on raising awareness among its troops, in order to help them better understand mental health issues. An initial training session was set up for managers, as well as training for union representatives and one for employees. The full-day training for managers includes three phases, while the other two, lasting only a few hours, are offered online.
For managers, the first stage is certainly about knowing what mental health is and the psychological problems that might arise. They are then led to recognize the symptoms as well as the external factors that can influence what is happening at work, such as the family or personal situation,” summarizes Mr. Le Duc.
For Jean-Pierre Brun, professor and holder of the Chair in OHS Management at Laval University, it is essential to train both managers and employees: “Even if we often think that a team is doing well when its manager has behaviors promoting mental health, the problem is not always with the manager, but also with the co-workers”.
Communication on all fronts
At the same time, the group launched an internal prevention program. It includes events and seminars throughout the year, the launch of an internet portal and several mental health guides. “These are good starting points to know who to call, who can provide support, or what to say,” summarizes Bernard Le Duc.
The company already offered an employee and family assistance program (EAP). However, thanks to the awareness campaign, the use of the EAP has seen a 92% increase in its use.
The traditional survey carried out each year among employees has also been revamped in order to measure the satisfaction resulting from the measures deployed. This question was overseen by the HR department, where a team of three part-time people was dedicated to this issue.
Bell has also restructured its return-to-work procedure. It is extremely crucial for the supervisor to provide good interaction with the employee, by staying in touch throughout the period of incapacity to prevent the occurrence of isolation and to extend moral support to the employees. Now, more stakeholders are involved in the return to work of employees, such as the HR representative, the union representative and a team representative.
We understand that going back to work is a strategic step, because there is extremely frequently a link between lack and work. Therefore, it is important for companies to be able to provide support before and during the return”, considers Evelyn Kedl, consultant for conflict prevention and management and support for recovery and return to work. When possible, Bell, therefore, offers a gradual return to work and tries to plan the employee’s work considering his energy level.
Since the first actions were implemented 4 years ago, Bell has seen a 17% drop in the number of mental health-related disability claims. Thanks to the information and communication programs we chatted about and the truth that people are looking for more assistance with the EAP.
The subject also entered the daily discussions of employees. “People are aware of this problem and are increasingly looking for ways to avoid the possible causes. It almost became a culture change! “he estimates.
Implementing a program of this type remained a challenge for a company like Bell, which struggles every day in a highly competitive industry. But this has not reduced our performance, rather the opposite: with healthier and engaged employees, we see a lot of positive impacts on society!
Professor Jean-Pierre Brun points out that the issue of quality of life is essential for improving company performance: “We often forget that good employee health is equivalent to good company health through psych evaluation near me. Especially since measures such as setting up an action plan, team cohesion or improving the quality of meetings are not costly”.
Although the number of investments made for this program remains “confidential”, Bernard Le Duc qualifies: “Such an approach generates costs, such as the remuneration of a team of three people, an increase in our insurance cover or training. But we see this as an investment offering us better commitment from our employees, who fall ill less often.
Bell intends to continue its momentum. The firm hires 6,000 to 7,000 new employees per year: the training cannot stop! The objective now is to get all the leaders through the 3 levels we have known, which may start to certification. The group also wants to assess each business unit more closely to implement better risk management.