Health has long been associated with physical condition, however a good mindset is just as important. How to preserve employees’ mental health?
Indeed, mental health is just as important as physical health and we should value it as such. The first in preserving employees’ mental health is to talk about and fight against the stigmas. People seem to be more comfortable talking to their personal trainer than their psychologist. However, in both cases, asking for support is important as it shows you are taking action to get a good balance.
It is crucial to keep in mind that mental health is a continuum; one day you can feel on top of things then the next you lose your motivation. This is normal and such difficulties should not define who you are.
The second step is to analyze the culture of your company, the nature of your activities, your business strategy, and the seasonality. What works at KPMG might not work in another firm because our People do not face the same challenges and do not have the same needs.
Finally, employees’ mental health should be considered at different levels of responsibility. As a sustainable employer, it is our responsibility to provide our People with the necessary tools, resources, and services to help them manage and improve their well-being.
Alongside the firm’s initiatives and support, it is also important that employees take individual responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, both in and out of the workplace. We can listen to and guide our People in setting up dedicated paths to improve their well-being, but we cannot force them. This individual responsibility is essential.
In addition, we all have the responsibility to support each other, regardless of your position or job title. We believe that acting at team level has a bigger impact because you know your colleagues, their habits, etc. If someone you know and trust opens the discussion when you have a difficult time, it can already help.
Concretely, what did you implement internally to favor a healthy work environment?
For several years now, we have been committed to building a healthy work environment. We set up a sports and a social committee that organize activities throughout the year. We’re also giving back to the community as we encourage our employees to volunteer at and support associations sponsored by the KPMG Foundation as well as ad-hoc association activities.
Connecting with colleagues and your community, taking care of your body, all these aspects sustain your mental health. Therefore, our first action was to gather all the information about the activities related to our multi-dimensional approach and make it accessible to everyone. We dedicated a full page on our intranet and promoted our strategy through various communication channels. A few examples of our concrete actions include:
- We built a community of Mental Health first aiders with People certified by the ASTF (occupational medicine association). They are equipped to face specific situations related to mental health. We added this certification to our training plan to have at least one session per year
- We also organize regular conferences on how to prevent burnout and how to manage stress in order to raise awareness on stress’ mechanisms. When you have a clear view and understanding of the symptoms, it’s easier to take action
- Last year we offered three additional days off which were strategically placed before and after a bank holiday so that our People could have a four-day weekend and an opportunity to truly disconnect from work. As of Jan. 2023, we reviewed the annual holiday balance
- We foster our listening culture by offering various opportunities to our People to share anonymously their experience at KPMG, their ideas, and their concerns through our annual Global People survey, onboarding surveys and Speak-up program.
A healthy work environment is also a workplace where you feel safe. This psychological safety means you feel part of a group, you don’t fear to express yourself, your ideas or opinions, you can bring your true self to work, etc. To enhance this psychological safety, we’ve set up leadership programs. As of the first day and throughout their career at KPMG, our future leaders have multiple opportunities to thrive with us and develop their people skills such as providing constructive feedback. When people are trained in this skill, they feel more comfortable providing the right message, which has a huge impact on the psychological safety of the teams. Indeed, it is always an opportunity to clarify expectations, adjust behaviours or simply celebrate success together, as feedback should not be just corrective.
How about reducing working hours? Do you believe it could have an impact on employees’ well-being – and performance?
It could have an impact, but I am not sure it would be a systematically positive one. Based on our experience, it might not be a “one size fits all” solution, as our people’s needs are diverse and evolve constantly. As an employer, we need to accommodate business and people needs, to constantly think about the work organization, flexible model and align together.
When we discuss with our People about their projects or priorities, we consider different options to make sure that the one selected will be the right answer to sustain their work-life harmony. On top of flexible hours and different places to work in Luxembourg, we explore various work arrangements such as part-time, extra-vacation, international mobility, ongoing learning and development, etc.
Another aspect to consider is the purpose an employee will find in their job. You can work less but if your work does not provide you with a sense of accomplishment, your well-being could be threatened. That’s why, through our Employee Value Proposition (EVP), we commit to providing our People with a diverse and inclusive work experience that supports their personal and professional growth.
Talking about well-being at work, your efforts enabled you to increase talent retention, how about talent attraction? Do you believe it can be a strong argument during an interview?
Yes, emphasizing well-being at work during an interview can be a strong argument to attract talented candidates. Many job seekers prioritize a positive work environment and the well-being of employees, and they are likely to be attracted to companies that prioritize these things as well. Additionally, a focus on well-being may indicate to candidates that the company values its employees and is invested in their success, which can be a compelling factor in their decision to join the organization.
Research has shown that promoting well-being in the workplace can have a positive impact on recruitment, retention, and productivity. Companies that prioritize employee well-being and work-life harmony are more likely to attract and retain high-quality talent, as well as improve employee engagement, morale, and productivity. Highlighting your company’s focus on well-being during an interview can be an effective way to differentiate your organization from competitors and attract top talent. If you do so, you must keep your promise and the experience of the newly hired people must be aligned with their expectations.
During the last HR One gala, we won the “Best health & well-being strategy” award which is a great recognition for the actions we took. Thank you for that. Sustaining the health and well-being of our People is an ongoing journey and we have already new ideas to support our strategy.