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From Stress to Success

Fostering a culture of well-being in the workplace


Calgary’s corporate community continues to be a dynamic and fast-paced environment. As such, an emphasis on employee well-being has become a top priority for companies. Recognizing the profound connection between mental, physical and emotional health, they are seeking innovative ways to foster a culture of health, wellness and rejuvenation. Supporting employee wellness is key to creating a thriving and productive workforce.

One such company that is investing time, energy and money into employee wellness is Enbridge. The energy company provides a compelling example of how companies can proactively promote the holistic well-being of their employees. Through a multifaceted approach that encompasses mental health initiatives, well-being rewards and leadership support, Enbridge strives to create an environment where employees flourish both personally and professionally.

Enbridge senior vice president and chief human resources and inclusion officer Melissa Moye says, “Our employees are encouraged to maintain their physical, mental, social and financial well-being to help support their success at home, work and in the community. As the mental health co-chairs, Matthew Akman, Enbridge executive vice president, and I help raise awareness and reduce stigma related to mental illness and encourage ongoing conversations about mental health and total well-being.”

Online campaigns such as #Askedforhelp, Employee Resource Group events, and Managers Well-being Webinars, provide platforms for Enbridge employees to share their stories and encourage open conversations about mental health.

“We also provide employees up to $350 annually in wellness rewards for participating in activities that boost self-awareness of health risks, highlight support resources, address well-being barriers or drive positive behaviour change. Employees can choose activities that are aligned with their personal well-being goals whether it’s improved nutrition, reducing stress, building social networks or addressing their financial priorities. Quarterly campaigns promote rewards and the resources available while encouraging employees to make their well-being a priority,” says Moye.

To successfully promote mindfulness, Moye suggests that companies embed well-being into their culture and daily practices. Enbridge achieves this through a combination of employee feedback, leadership support, and the integration of well-being goals and check-ins into the work environment.

“For example,” says Moye, “employee feedback was used to help develop our new online mental health training, and leadership teams encouraged participation. To date, the more than 6,500 employees who completed the survey have earned rewards and report being better prepared to take care of their own mental health and support others. Well-being goals, for individuals and teams, and well-being check-ins, on ourselves and others, are two other ways we help encourage employees to be mindful of their own health and support a healthy workplace culture.”

Many companies are now bolstering their employee health benefits and introducing employee and family assistance programs to provide greater mental health support. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, in any given year, one-in-five people will experience a mental health problem or illness.

Calgary-based therapist and owner of Honeycomb Therapy Cailey Clark says, “Mental health and physical health are inextricably linked; when we aren’t taking care of one, the other suffers as well. When we aren’t taking care of our mental health, it can result in physical health problems, such as chest pain, exhaustion, brain fog, nausea, etc., and these physical symptoms can have a huge impact on our job performance.”

She adds, “When people pursue therapy for workplace issues, they commonly come to address feelings of anxiety or stress. When they ignore the anxiety and stress to just ‘push through,’ this can quickly lead to burnout, which impacts all aspects of life (job, home, relationships, etc.), and it can take much longer to get out of a state of burnout than to get into it.”

From a therapist perspective, one of the main reasons many people do not prioritize their mental health, according to Clark, is due to a lack of inclusive psychotherapy benefits. “If companies want employees to take care of their mental health and wellness, providing psychotherapy benefits as part of their benefits package can make a big difference. Although internal company activities that promote mindfulness can be good places to begin the conversation about mental health, they do not replace individual therapy.”

Though Clark believes individual therapy is critical for many individuals and can have a profound impact on one’s wellness journey, she acknowledges that company wellness programs and initiatives are essential and play an important role in employee health, wellness and rejuvenation. “A company culture that encourages internal growth and reflection is promoting mindfulness, which comes from understanding oneself, one’s values, and believing that they deserve peace, love, and all the beautiful things in life.”

Clark recommends that managers and supervisors encourage employees to use their paid time off to rest, for example, and to be understanding and empathetic towards those who are struggling with relationship issues, family stress, burnout and any other external issues that will inevitably impact their job performance.

“Generally, the best thing companies can do to promote individual health and wellness is create a corporate culture that respects and acknowledges people’s lives outside of work. If people have healthy work boundaries, sufficient compensation, fair benefits and realistic job requirements, then this will give them the space to make their own healthy choices and not have to compromise their health for work.”

Eleanor Culver, president of Real HR Inc., agrees with Clark and acknowledges the sometimes-blurred boundaries between work and personal lives. She also echoes Clark’s comments on the value of companies recognizing the importance of supporting employees’ mental and physical health.

“Gone are the days when people could keep their work and personal lives separate. Boundaries between work and personal lives are fuzzier than ever. So, how does a company encourage practices that support employees’ mental and physical health without overstepping? This is potentially a minefield of privacy and human rights, but the effort is worth it. Companies intuitively understand that happy, healthy employees are good for business. Employees who are physically and mentally healthy are more productive than those struggling with health issues,” says Culver.

She applauds companies who adopt a less-is-more approach, citing successful trials of four-day workweeks in various countries. As well, recognizing the struggles employees face and providing practical support, such as bite-sized wellness training, access to wellness apps, Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), and reevaluating policies such as “unlimited” paid time off all contribute to a healthy workplace environment. It also demonstrates a company’s commitment to employee well-being.

Culver points out that physical wellness is just as important as mental wellness – they go together. “Companies should also embrace some physicality at work; convert a large boardroom into a yoga studio, start a weekly group meditation class, host tai chi classes – get creative. Model the behaviours you wish to see your employees adopt at work. At the end of the day, if they see you continuing to burn the midnight oil, not only will they ignore your requests, but your credibility will take a hit, employees will quiet-quit, or you’ll be dealing with presenteeism (here, but not working), all costly for the company.”

As corporate Calgary continues to grow and evolve, ensuring and supporting employee health, wellness and rejuvenation becomes increasingly more significant. Companies like Enbridge set a powerful example, demonstrating the tangible benefits of comprehensive well-being initiatives.

By fostering a culture that values mindfulness, supports healthy choices and acknowledges the interconnected nature of mental, physical and emotional health, companies can create environments where employees thrive, leading to increased productivity, creativity and overall business success in the long run.