Through Thick and Thin, Boston Scientific Makes Mental Well-Being a Priority
A key lesson of the pandemic is that we must keep mental health squarely on the workplace agenda. When employees take better care of their health, they're happier and more productive. The airlines have it right when they ask us to put on our own oxygen masks before helping fellow passengers don theirs in an emergency. We must look after ourselves before we can support those around us at work, at home and in our communities.
At the onset of the pandemic, as employees around the globe wrestled with disrupted schedules and increased caregiving responsibilities, Boston Scientific relied on what it was hearing from employees through surveys and open conversations they were having with managers and employee resource groups (ERGs) to fully understand their needs. Since then, the company has given employees direct access to well-being information and adjusted existing benefits to best support them.
Here’s a look at the steps Boston Scientific has taken to support employees and their families and ensure employee well-being remains a mainstay of the company’s benefits program going forward:
1. Listen to, hear and act on feedback
Leaders and colleagues throughout the company held intimate listening sessions, focus groups and surveys to identify and address priorities. This contributed to expanded coverage for behavioral and mental health services, increased out-of-network coverage and scenarios where cost-sharing was waived. “We have a very diverse workforce, so it was important to capture different perspectives and create an avenue for employees to have a voice,” said Holly Duvernay, senior manager, Corporate Benefits.
2. Create a safe space for honest conversation
It was important for employees to feel comfortable sharing their feelings and asking for help without being judged. During widespread lockdowns, ERGs, managers, and members of the WellBeing team—an employee volunteer committee dedicated to evaluating the ongoing needs of employees—kept their eyes and ears peeled for colleagues living alone or caring for children or elderly relatives. They provided emotional support and referred colleagues to coping techniques, including counseling services and a series of webinars led by caregiving specialists and licensed clinicians. These sessions covered everything from burnout and stress management to navigating childcare and elder care responsibilities. “We took advantage of the strong relationships ERGs and the WellBeing team have with our workforce to create an environment that allowed colleagues to make emotional and social connections and for us to get timely and historically lesser-known resources in front of people,” said Holly. “We found that employees were more willing to share their burdens when they heard from their manager or a group that they trust,” she said.
3. Help employees know and use their benefits
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) help people manage many major life moments, but they often go unused because employees don’t know about them. “At the onset of the pandemic, we reminded employees that EAPs cover things like relocation and caregiving support and counsel people on how to update or create living wills, appoint health care proxies and other important acts that safeguard assets and protect family members and their wishes,” said Holly. When Community Events Specialist Teri March lost a family member to COVID-19 while caring for her mother and working full time, she was relieved to find support in the company’s EAP. “I felt drained and too overwhelmed to find resources for my mom. It was good to get help from a licensed clinical social worker who knew the system and Medicare,” said Teri, who also reported that the counseling she received helped validate her feelings.
4. Equip managers to maintain productivity in new work modes
With most Boston Scientific employees working onsite before the pandemic, managers had to pivot quickly to lead their teams and maintain productivity as onsite, hybrid and remote work modes were introduced for many office-based employees. The company’s global and localized intranet sites include training sessions that have helped managers adopt approaches for successful collaboration across all three modes. Business and HR leaders will continue to identify coaching opportunities and resources for managers to continue supporting their employees.
In the first two years of the pandemic, Boston Scientific has seen an uptick in use of all benefit programs, but the work is far from over. The company plans to integrate employee well-being into one of its leadership development programs, continue to seek feedback from employees at all levels and functions, and identify ways to support them beyond their benefits package. “The pandemic has pushed us to be more creative and agile than we have been in the past,” said Holly. “It has taught us to be more human and pay closer attention to what is happening in our employees’ personal lives and within their communities.”
Boston Scientific was recently recognized with Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Best Places to Work in 2022. Go here to see more awards.
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