Companies that walk the walk and prioritise mental wellbeing through initiatives and perks.
When it comes to building a company culture that supports mental wellbeing, one word always pops up—action. But what does that look like, and where do you start? From global corporate giants to independent agencies and everything in between, here are some businesses that are leading the way with mental health in the workplace.
If you’ve ever searched for great places to work (or delicious smoothies), chances are you’ve come across Innocent. They have a whole host of wellbeing benefits in their office, like a yoga club, sabbaticals, and a free on-site gym, but it’s their mental health resources that really take the
Innocent runs two training courses to give their team a better understanding of mental health: One is for everyone, and the other is specifically for managers, to make sure they’re fully equipped to create a positive mental wellbeing experience. There’s also the People Clinic—a weekly drop-in centre where the Innocent team can get help if anything is going on at work or in their personal life. Of course, it’s completely confidential.
“At innocent, we understand that mental health problems and stress can affect anyone—our aim is to create a work environment that supports mental health and enables people to support their team too. We believe that no stigma should be attached to mental health. We understand that everyone’s circumstances are different, so we pledge that the individual’s mental health needs will always matter to us.” — Innocent spokesperson, Stylist Magazine
UK-based banking startup Monzo might be fairly new on the block, but their approach to mental health exceeds companies that have been around for decades. What’s interesting is that they have considered both their team and their customers in equal measure.
As a Monzo customer, you have access to their ‘Share with Us’ feature, where you can alert them of any circumstances that might affect your finances or how you interact with their team (you can read a brilliant example over on their blog). They also have a Vulnerable Customers Team, who specialise in handling mental health and vulnerabilities with care and attention, to achieve the best possible income for everyone, no matter the situation. It doesn’t stop there, mental wellbeing touches all corners of the Monzo experience, right down to the features in their app—from gambling blocks, to late-night spending reviews.
So, what about the people behind this approach to mental health? As you can imagine, Monzo have some pretty impressive internal processes in place. The Monzo team have access to mental health first-aiders, who attended courses at the Royal Society of Public Health, plus a company-wide discount for meditation app, Headspace. They even have a dedicated #mental-health internal Slack channel, where the team can share experiences, resources and even ask for advice in a casual, informal setting. If you want to keep up with Monzo’s approach to wellbeing, bookmark the mental health tag on their blog for future reading.
Unilever—the company behind brands like Dove, Hellman’s, and Knorr—hire around 155,000 people worldwide. How do they prioritise wellbeing on such a large scale? It all starts with its global Wellbeing Steering Committee, who have developed a four-pillar framework to support the physical, mental, purposeful, and emotional wellbeing of their team.
According to an article by Leena Nair, Chief HR Officer at Unilever, the company has introduced Thrive Workshops, where people can build their own unique wellbeing plan. They also have a Global Wellbeing Hub, where team members can access resources and information on exactly how the company can support their wellbeing plan. As part of the program, Unilever employees and their families can also monitor and track their own wellbeing journey on the award-winning ClickWell app—a free wellbeing tracker. Users have the tools to set goals, take mental health checks, and access resources from the palm of their hand. Even though it was developed by Unilever, it’s completely private, and individual data is never shared with managers, HR, or other members of the team.
Studies have shown that answering emails after working hours can lead to emotional exhaustion and damage work-family balance. However, pressure from management, clients, or “hustle culture” means that many of us are guilty of opening our inbox for a quick check before bed or at the weekend. For some, this expectation can bring a lot of stress, in case clocking off shows that they’re not invested in their role. UK holiday company, Snaptrip, has put an end to this by banning all out-of-hours emails. No ifs, no buts, no replies. This is a responsible step towards putting mental wellbeing first, as it allows their team to fully switch off and removes any doubt or anxiety around evening emails.
American shoes and accessories company, Zappos, are passionate about two things—exceptional customer service and extraordinary company culture (both go hand-in-hand). Alongside their above-average health, dental and vision insurance, their incredible parental policies and mental health sick days, they have two particular mental wellbeing initiatives that caught our attention.
First of all, every Zapponian has access to a life coach. Invented by Zappos legend, Augusta Scott, their 30-day coaching program is designed to help employees to take action, reach their goals, and achieve a higher purpose. Go Augusta 🎉
More recently, Zappos recently partnered with Fender Guitars to launch their ‘Strum for the Sole‘ initiative. They’ve installed a jam room at their HQ with guitars and kit to encourage their team to learn a new instrument. Fender consulted with award-winning neuroscientist, musician, record producer, and author Daniel Levitin, who reported that there are emotional benefits of playing an instrument, including increased creativity, patience, confidence, work ethic, and persistence.
“This program is all about fostering creative energy and offering an alternative way to destress at home or in the office. We believe that music could play a huge role in encouraging our employees to have a positive relationship with their mental, emotional, and overall health. It might be a little weird, but we know for sure it’ll be fun!”—Bhawna Provenzano, Director of Employee Benefits and Diversity at Zappos.
One of the best ways to help mental health is to encourage your team to talk about it. That’s the exact thinking behind why we contribute towards therapy and counselling for our team. Not everyone feels comfortable speaking to their boss, workmates, or even family about their mental health, and the overwhelming stigma means that people often avoid going to therapy in case they’re judged. We started this initiative because we want to make therapy the norm and take a proactive—instead of reactive—approach to our team’s mental health. If you’d like to do the same for your team, we highly recommend Timewith.
Based in Brighton, SEO and search marketing agency, Propellernet puts 5% of profits into a dedicated health and wellbeing fund, which their team can choose to spend as they wish. They also have an incredible ‘Dream Balls’ initiative where every employee writes their dream on a note to go inside their vintage gumball machine. Every quarter, they make a dream come true! That’s the stuff of fairy godmothers right there. It’s no wonder they’ve scooped up awards for being the ‘Best Place to Work.’
“Our whole ethos is about making life better. It is about making life better for our clients’ customers as well as ourselves.” – Nikki Gatenby, Managing Director of Propellernet