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How Microsoft, Netflix, and Other Multinational Companies Manage the Mental Health of Their Team (And What You Can Learn From Them)

There are many ways to help your team with their mental health - from wellbeing breaks and days off to paid therapy sessions. But the first step is to raise awareness and break the stigma.

With the level of stress that we’re exposed to, it’s no wonder mental health is one of the biggest concerns today. Companies and leaders are becoming more aware of the importance of mental health, and that’s great.

But if your company doesn’t have policies of this sort, you could be the one to get it started. 

For inspiration, check out five unique ways that some of the most successful companies manage the mental health of their employees.

Microsoft – Break the Stigma

Before introducing any mental health programs, your first task as a manager is to break the stigma. We’ve come a long way when it comes to mental health awareness, but some stigma is still there. That’s why your employees may be afraid to bring up their mental health.

Microsoft started doing so spontaneously. 

One manager stepped up and shared his personal struggles with the team. The reaction was positive, as people began sharing their own stories as well. This allowed them to bond as a team even more, having gotten rid of all the taboos.

This simple action had a deep impact on the wellbeing of the employees. They shared tactics and tricks that helped them overcome certain issues. Other teams soon recognised the importance of sharing personal stories and it quickly became a part of the company’s culture.

Microsoft now has a very advanced mental health program as a result. 

But remember that it all started with one person - one leader who wasn’t afraid of sharing his own experience. That’s the definition of leading by example.

Facebook – Free Mental Health Care

Facebook went one step further when it comes to caring for their employees’ mental health. It was one of the first companies to include mental health coverage in employee health insurance plans. They understood that mental health is as significant as physical health, if not even more.

Again, the initiative started with the top-level managers. 

They realised that climbing the corporate ladder had more challenges than it seemed. As they put it, there’s a steep learning curve that doesn’t leave you enough time to adapt. They understood that they needed to address this issue. That’s why Facebook gives 25 free therapy sessions per year to all its employees in the US. 

But if you want your people to get the most out of it, it’s not enough to offer free mental health care as one of the benefits. You must talk about it and explain that it’s something normal and natural, and then encourage them to use the benefit.

Netflix – Mind and Body Break

Netflix has one of the most flexible vacation policies, and it actually works great. Not only do they not have a fixed 9-to-5 schedule, but they also don’t have a set number of days off.

The company believes that it’s in everyone’s best interest to take time off whenever. 

Whether it’s for family reasons, health, or they simply need to take a break and disconnect, it’s enough to ask for a Mind and Body Break. Their employees don’t have to explain anything or provide excuses.

It’s all about the work/life balance. 

They understand that stressed and overwhelmed employees can’t contribute much to the team. Because when you’re well-rested, you’re happier and you’ll also be a better worker.

Also, this policy shows the level of trust that Netflix has in its workers. No one attempts to control them, and it’s a great feeling.

If you’re afraid that your employees might abuse such a rule, there’s no reason to worry. People appreciate things like this and know that it’ll get taken away if abused. They will respect you more as a leader.

Google – Wellbeing Reminders on Calendar

Those working from home may be more likely to have mental health issues. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with work and feel isolated after all.

Most Google employees use Google Calendar for scheduling meetings (needless to say). That’s why their managers encourage them to schedule time off during the day as well. 

It’s their famously coined Wellbeing reminders.

There are no set rules for these reminders, just suggestions. The best thing is that the employees can choose how long their break is to last - whether it’s a quick 10-minute break or a 2-hour break to have a nap.

There are also suggestions about what they can do to reduce anxiety and improve mental wellbeing. The recommendations include taking a walk around your neighbourhood or spending time with the kids.

They can also schedule bonding time with a colleague from a different team that they don’t get to talk to often. In doing so, Google promotes human contact and communication even for those working remotely.

Johnson & Johnson – Mental Health for the Whole Family

Mental health issues never come alone. They’re often the result of something going on in your life. And most often, they’re related to your family or stress at work.

Johnson & Johnson has this unique stance where it’s not enough to help an individual. You have to see the bigger picture, and that usually involves the whole family.

Maybe your employee struggles because their kids have problems at school. Or maybe they’re going through a tough time in their marriage. 

Just provide support and assistance for the whole family. You don’t need to know the details.

Johnson & Johnson offers six in-person visits per year to a mental health professional. Employees can even bring their family if they want to and have a family therapy session. In addition to this, they have unlimited telephone counselling with the pros all year long.

Lead by Example

Hopefully, these mental health initiatives by some of the biggest companies around can inspire you to do something similar. 

Remember that it all starts with you. Before you offer paid sessions or mental health breaks, you have to create a friendly atmosphere. An environment where your employees feel free to talk about their struggles.

And if you need a hand, we’re here to help you. 

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