By Ammara Naeem, Senior HR Auditor, Top Employers Institute
By Ammara Naeem, Senior HR Auditor, Top Employers Institute

Employee mental health and well-being: Next practices from Top Employers

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a different twist on what it means for us to “work together”. This global crisis has become far more than a logistical and technological challenge as most of us move to working from home.

In the process, businesses everywhere have become even more aware of the significance of their employees’ well-being; specifically recognising their own responsibility for mental health and well-being issues among those that they employ.

Mental health and well-being policies are under scrutiny as never before. Top Employers are doing all they can to mitigate the potential emotional impact of working from home for prolonged periods; like loneliness and anxiety. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, 78% of Top Employers already had in place an ongoing and active company-wide communication campaign to promote well-being.

Now great communications must be matched by great delivery for all. Fortunately the existing practices of Top Employers have left them in good shape to scale up and improve their offering during the current crisis. From ensuring employees receive accurate information and guidance to providing opportunities to ensure work-life balance, training employees and managers on compassion, resilience and encouraging team spirit in such times, our Top Employers are setting examples. So what measures are Top Employers now putting in place to safeguard mental health and well-being?

Deloitte (Brazil): Practical medical support

Deloitte’s business in Brazil has a clear focus on making sure that all those working from home have the relevant – and accurate – information about the outbreak. There had been a lot of concern around fake news, so the business wanted to guarantee that employees were receiving only that information confirmed by its health team. Therefore, its Health and Risk teams use email and intranet to offer accurate and relevant news around how to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. This is helping to lower anxiety levels among employees – as well as to handle inevitable questions asked of them in turn from Deloitte’s own clients.

Deloitte’s health team includes:

  •   Medical professionals – to support by answering questions about symptoms, how to respond and general reassurance.
  •   A telemedicine service – for 24-7 medical advice for those who can be treated without the need for a hospital visit.
  •   Social workers – for emotional support to those feeling anxious, depressed or lonely.

In addition, the business has used webinars and live Q&A sessions, as well as a meditation app, to help employees to reduce their daily levels of anxiety. The most important thing, says Deloitte, has been to share experiences to show employees that they are being supported by the business, are going through the same struggles as one another and need never feel alone.

ING (France): All about the balance

The emphasis of ING in France has been all about the balance struck between work and personal life in the face of dramatic change. To maintain its commitment to promoting the work-life balance of employees, it has made its remote wellness programmes freely available to all through its intranet. These programmes have included yoga sessions, sports classes, and information on nutrition. 

For the many parents taking care of young children and, in many cases, homeschooling, ING has offered the option of changes to their working hours to suit personalised needs. In addition, HR teams are providing distance learning for all managers around how to manage remote teams. This has included guidance on how to avoid your team members experiencing feelings of isolation - and how to maintain enthusiasm and commitment of all employees when you’re not working together in the same physical space as one another.

DHL Global Forwarding: Compassion, Optimism and Resilience

DHL Global Forwarding has set up a well-being initiative that includes online courses and information on COVID-19, as well as guidance and reassurance on mental health, stress management and working on their learning platform. Importantly, there is also special support given to people managers around great ways to demonstrate compassion, optimism and resilience to teams, peers and everyone else connected with the business. DHL Global Forwarding has introduced the ‘Well-being at DGF’ initiative accompanied by a campaign which includes tools to provide guidance, support and various resources for all employees, and especially for managers to help them inspire those around them in a time of crisis.

Saint Gobain: Normal hours please

Saint Gobain in China, also uses a technology platform (WeChat) to share information around remote working and managing work/life balance. One important distinction for the Saint Gobain approach has been that it is discouraging employees strongly from working without standard hours. This is something that can be easy to do when working from home, especially if an employee is understandably anxious about what the future holds. This is a really important action, one that more and more Top Employers are understanding is critically important. Reassuringly, a third (33%) of them already actively discourage use of email outside office hours.

JTI: Apart Together

Enlightened organisations know that a sense of togetherness and the use of humour can play their part in mitigating current anxieties. At JTI there has been a strong emphasis on the need for solidarity between team members. All are encouraged to connect on a regular basis in order to support one another. There has also been less form showings of solidarity between team members, through a series of catch-ups. Some teams are sharing morning coffee, or just checking in on each other individually while others are putting and emphasis on virtual drinks on Friday evening! This new experience allows employees to have some collective fun – and at the same time become more mindful of each other’s challenges in turbulent times.

The business challenges of the current global pandemic are severe, yet Top Employers are as well placed as they possibly can be to rise to the occasion around mental health and well-being issues. It is reassuring, for example, that at a time when so many of our most basic assumptions around the way we work together are being challenged, Top Employers worldwide are finding ways to underpin humanity in their organisations and fortify the mental health and well-being of their employees.


Now in its 29th year, the Top Employers Institute Certification recognises leading organisations around the world for their commitment to their employees and people practices.