Powerful tools to protect the mental well-being of employees – Guest Columns
Brightview is incredibly honored to have once again topped Fortune’s Best Work Services for Aging list in 2021, as well as representing seniors living on Fortune’s list of the Top 100 Companies to Work for in the States. -United.
We are in great company with so many wonderful organizations in our industry. Together we are doing an incredible job, even though we have faced some unique and almost unimaginable challenges over the past 18 months or so.
At Brightview, it’s our focus on people that got us through the storm. Since the founding of our organization, we have designed and operated our business on the premise that to be a great place to live for our residents, we must first be a place to work for our associates.
Basically, this premise requires that we treat associates like people. As individuals. As humans with real lives, needs, challenges and demands that extend far beyond the limited hours of the day they spend in our service. We take a holistic approach to people, knowing that they are more than their work.
Their realities over the past 18 months or so have been grim and unprecedented. Regardless of age, health, geography, family status, wealth, or any other factor that makes each of us unique, no one has literally made it to this stage of the global pandemic unscathed. And it has taken its toll, in one way or another, on the mental and physical health of everyone, including our team of dedicated associates who have been on the front lines working with the most vulnerable population in the world. our country.
Brightview took a variety of steps to support our associates: pantries where associates could get free groceries for their families, extraordinary investments in personal protective equipment to make them feel safe, a “hero.” paying âto recognize their commitment to our residents, additional staff to ease the burden of working in a quarantine environment, free Uber rides to work when public transportation was unavailable or felt unsafe, Ice cream trucks on-site for a little pick-me-up during tough days, and more. Yet we realized that people were struggling and suffering. It was when we started to see telltale signs of fatigue, stress and burnout that we created a mental health initiative that we called the âRoadmap to Mental Wellnessâ.
With a general theme of “It’s good to disagree”, there were four elements:
- acknowledge the impact of the pandemic;
- speak to friends, family or a mental health professional through our Employee Assistance Program;
- build your self-care toolbox ; and
- to prioritize tasks to manage the increased demands on our lives caused by COVID-19.
We have deployed a very broad and multidimensional approach, including a communication drip campaign; branding and visuals; mailings to the homes of the partners; on-site advisers to meet associates in small peer groups (management absent); opportunities for one-on-one meetings with on-site advisers during the working day; paid rescue teams for managers needing a break; peer group discussions at manager level (also in the absence of management) to discuss shared concerns, frustrations and fears; strong promotion of our employee assistance program; and public recognition from senior leaders of the very real mental health impact we know the pandemic has had on all of us, coupled with our commitment to the well-being of our teams. Again, we focused on people as people, not as employees.
The Roadmap to Mental Wellness was created and led by our Wellness Manager, a master’s degree public health practitioner. Her full-time position was created in 2011 to work exclusively with our associates to encourage and support their physical and mental health and wellness goals.
Each year, she runs two to three company-wide wellness campaigns around topics important to our associates and their families: healthy eating, better sleep, more movement, the importance of health care. preventative health, stress management and more. There was no doubt that the best possible theme for a late 2020 campaign would be mental wellness. Participation in every element of the campaign was exceptional and incredibly well received from frontline associates to senior leaders.
Although the intensity and demands of pandemic mode operation have started to normalize, new stressors have taken their place: uncertainty for parents around their children at school, groundbreaking COVID cases in the news everyday, the toughest job market most of us have ever known, and more. So while the Roadmap campaign may come to an end, our focus and commitment to the mental well-being of our associates runs deep into the fabric of our business.
Through the Roadmap, our goal was to balance a message of hope, positivity and support with genuine recognition of a very difficult time of chronic stress and uncertainty. Based on the amazing feedback we’ve received, it looks like we’ve struck that balance and given our teams powerful tools to protect their mental well-being during the most difficult time most of us have ever experienced. , and we can only hope that she will live one day. in our careers.
Andrea Griesmar is Senior Vice President of Operations for Brightview Senior Living.
The opinions expressed in each McKnight Seniors Residence guest column are those of the author and not necessarily those of McKnight Seniors Residence.