In 2020, as the pandemic increased worldwide, we went home. Personal interactions were broken off and replaced with a digital counterpart.
In January 2021, the average internet user had accounts on 8.4 different social media platforms and spent two hours and 25 minutes on social media each day (with a total of seven hours spent on all devices on the internet) – proof that the The boundaries between the “The real world and its virtual parallel were now more blurred than ever.
However, as time spent in hyperdigital spaces increased, so did depression, anxiety, loneliness, and insecurity.
Our collective mental health is suffering
As we struggled to adjust to life in lockdown, we saw the world shake with protests when the murder of George Floyd caused millions to take to the streets in support of Black Lives Matter – the biggest movement in of US history catapulted by social media.
We have seen the ongoing impact of socioeconomic inequality as deaths related to COVID-19 have disproportionately affected people in low-income neighborhoods and households. In the US, underrepresented groups had worse pandemic outcomes than white Americans – 48% of black adults and 46% of Hispanic or Latin American adults were more likely than white adults to report symptoms of anxiety and / or depressive disorders.
And in 2021, a report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism showed that Vancouver, BC, where Hootsuite is headquartered, had more reported anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020 than any other city in North America.
Although the weight of these forces has fallen on an already stressed and burned-out workforce, people have stopped taking the much-needed time for self-sufficiency or vacation time for processing – in fact, they are working more than ever before.
Harvard Business Review estimates that productive time has increased by 5% or more since the pandemic began. And people around the world work at least two extra hours a day, says Bloomberg.
Even when we're not working, we think about work. Hootsuite found that 40.4% of Internet users ages 16-64 are on social media for work, and 19% of people follow companies related to their social work.
We are living more and more in a world in which the working day practically never ends – and many of us “languish”. The term (popularized by the New York Times) stands for "the neglected middle mental health child" … a kind of void between depression and bloom, or, to put it simply, the lack of wellbeing.
A 2021 Mental Health Index by LifeWorks (formerly Morneau Shepell) called it "a massive decline in all areas of mental health and work productivity" – and that's not an exaggeration. All along the line, the employees are expanding far beyond their previous capacities in order to endure business changes and increasing demands.
LifeWorks reported that nearly half of Canadians will feel the need for mental health care in 2021, with over 40% of the global workforce considering leaving their employers this year, according to Microsoft. The consequences of burnout are real – now compounded by the fear of going back to the office or the promise of a lifetime before the pandemic.
As a result, companies are looking outside the box for new, creative ways to retain talent and ensure a healthy workforce. We know because we are on this journey ourselves.
Organizations have a responsibility to make mental health a priority
Traditionally, the workplace was a place where people were asked to check their personal life at the door. However, as companies consider deliberate new approaches to the way people work (with hybrid models appearing as the most sought-after options today), we also recognize an increased responsibility for the health of our employees – and that means encouraging them to getting yourself to work.
Beyond traditional perks and free snacks, employee health begins with companies realizing they are the primary catalysts in rebuilding a sane society. This privilege represents a new opportunity to reshape the future of the way we work.
At Hootsuite, we've redefined what a healthy culture and workforce means to us. We focus on building a diverse, inclusive, and results-driven workplace that encourages people to come who they are.
We also made it clear that being “results-oriented” doesn't mean working around the clock or being highly productive every day. It means that we are all working together towards a common goal.
We have built a holistic approach to mental health into the way we work and implemented a variety of new initiatives to help us get there.
Productivity requires plenty of breaks
Hootsuite founder Ryan Holmes associates work life with "interval training" – an ethos that balances hard work with periods of rest and relaxation – and we can no longer agree. He even argued that sometimes we really need a longer absence from work – be it in the form of a vacation or even a longer sabbatical.
Nobody can run marathons in a row without burning out. That is why we are introducing a company-wide wellness week where we can all “unplug” together – without the collective need to check notifications while we're on the move or “catch up” on our return.
The first wellness week, which takes place between July 5th and 12th, is separate from the holiday allocation for individual employees. For our employees in customer-facing roles or roles where there is a critical need for coverage, staggered schedules ensure adequate coverage so that Hootsuite customers do not experience service disruptions.
We also offer Owly Quality Time, where we log out on Fridays for half a day during the summer months – Q1 in the southern hemisphere and Q3 in the northern hemisphere.
However, our commitment to the mental health of our employees goes on for well over a week.
Work-life integration over work-life balance
At Hootsuite, we've put a lot of thought into work-life integration as the most realistic and healthiest approach to fostering a productive relationship with work.
According to UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, work-life integration "is an approach that creates more synergies between all the areas that define" life ": work, home / family, community, personal wellbeing and health," while Work Life Balance focuses on a more artificial separation of work and life.
As a dispersed workforce, we encourage our employees to find harmony between work and life instead of keeping the two units separate – which feels less and less realistic in 2021. We also recognized that a blended approach to work will lead to greater diversity in the workplace and allow us to tap into a broader global talent pool.
We believe you have to slow down to get faster again
These built-in breaks for our employees give our employees the opportunity to rest. We believe that from time to time such a slowdown is the only way to speed up again.
When we take these much-needed moments to rest and relax, we can do more with less. If we take a moment to understand how we got where we are, we create space for innovation and experimentation.
Our partners help us promote a diverse and inclusive culture
We also support mental health by working with underrepresented groups in our community where we have implemented a number of fundamental programs to build a more diverse and inclusive organization.
We are leveraging our growing group of partners (we are currently working with the Black Professionals on the Tech Network and Pride at Work Canada) to help our executives attract, attract, retain, and nurture a variety of talent. We continue to build this ecosystem of partnerships as we grow and become more diverse as a company.
Partnerships are incredibly important when it comes to creating an environment in which employees feel they belong, have the opportunity to distinguish themselves, and can bring themselves to work.
With the support of our partners, we've improved the way we find and hire people. We have also standardized our internal advertising processes to reduce bias and offer unconscious bias training to all employees in the company.
This year we expanded our standard service package to ensure that all of our employees have access to the mental health support they need.
How we updated our benefits to support mental health
Tara Ataya, Hootsuite's chief people and diversity officer, is a mental health advocate.
“The resilience of our organization is based on the psychological security of our employees. When employees are given the tools, resources, and time to take care of their mental health and wellbeing, companies are more agile, resilient, and successful. "
These are some of the new benefits we have introduced to support the productive and healthy lives of our employees – with an ongoing commitment to making mental health a priority:
- We We've expanded our mental health coverage six times. We now offer 100 percent coverage of mental health-related treatments in North America to ensure our employees can see the doctors who best meet their needs without any adverse financial impact.
- To compensate for the immense stress that can be caused by some important life events, we have implemented Coverage for fertility treatments and gender-specific confirmatory surgery The new benefit package for all Canadian and US employees is flexible benefits that have been developed to adapt to and support a wide range of requirements.
- We addressed the needs of our diverse workforce through Expand our paid sick leave policy beyond the individual employee, so that the free time for looking after the immediate family members is also covered. The paid sick leave at Hootsuite has also doubled for all employees and can be used for psychological and personal days.
- We offer our employees culturally appropriate trauma counseling services to help them through difficult times.
- We believe that financial health and mental health go hand in hand. That's why we've set bold retirement goals for ourselves. Hootsuite was launched in 2021 401K matching, RRSP matching, and various other regional programs in the countries in which we operate.
After moving to a distributed workforce in early 2021 and conducting a series of surveys to find out how our employees would like to work in the future, we decided to put some of our larger offices (which we always call "nests") in "perches" in selected regions "- our version of a" hot desk "model – which gives our employees complete autonomy and flexibility about where and how they want to work.
Through these approaches and initiatives, we have realized that we can support the mental health of our employees by giving them the autonomy they need to redesign their work environment and choose what works best for them – and in doing so help find the best version of. to discover yourself.
We can give our employees the freedom to put their entire selves to work, the flexibility to take advantage of their benefits so that they actually benefit (pun intended), and the time to rest and rejuvenate whenever they want need.
Our efforts will not end when we turn the page to COVID-19. We are committed to an agile, lifelong approach that puts our people first. We understand that sometimes we get it right and sometimes we miss the mark – but we will keep trying.
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