May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we’re excited to share that BenchSci is being recognized as a 2024 Best Workplaces™ for Mental Wellness by Great Place to Work Canada! 

This recognition underscores our commitment to fostering a workplace where mental health is not just a priority but a fundamental aspect of our culture. We believe that a successful and engaged workforce thrives when employees feel supported and empowered to address their mental well-being. As someone who's been deeply involved in building our mental health community at BenchSci, I want to share some of the initiatives we've implemented regarding mental health and how they've made a positive impact.

At BenchSci, our commitment to mental health awareness and support stems from our dedication to our team members' overall well-being—because mental health is simply health. For me, the importance of prioritizing mental health became even more evident in my personal experiences and the challenges we faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

When I think about the importance of mental health in the workplace, it’s critical to recognize the significant role a supportive work environment plays in an individual's motivation and overall productivity.  While this work never ends, the daily strides we make are positively impacting our workplace. One of the key initiatives we've implemented is the #chatter-mentalhealth Slack channel, which serves as a dedicated space for everyone in the company to discuss topics around mental health and mental well-being, share resources, and connect with others who may be going through similar experiences. It’s hard to believe we started this in July 2022, and now more than 40% of the company has joined the channel. In this community, we also encourage individual efforts to promote mental health, as we believe that keeping the conversation going is essential to destigmatizing mental health. 

It's been encouraging to see BenchSci's commitment to promoting employee well-being, which is demonstrated through the concrete steps we've taken across the organization.

We provide peer support groups and are in the process of establishing mental health champions within the company. Our goal is to create a space where employees feel comfortable to openly discuss their challenges, should they choose to do so. This type of open communication and space is immensely valuable, particularly for those who may be navigating mental health challenges.

One of the benefits I often see team members take advantage of is BenchSci’s flex time policy. This policy empowers employees to take time off as needed for personal reasons, including mental health, without having to use vacation time. We understand that sometimes, a day off can be the difference between feeling overwhelmed and feeling refreshed and ready to contribute. By removing the pressure to use vacation time for personal well-being, our flex time policy acknowledges the importance of mental health and encourages employees to prioritize it without guilt or fear of judgment. We understand that taking time off for mental health can sometimes be accompanied by feelings of guilt, but it's crucial to recognize that prioritizing one's well-being is a sign of strength, not weakness. Through education and fostering a culture of empathy, we aim to create an environment where mental health and wellness are seen as a critical component of our shared success. 

We also provide employees with a robust benefits program, which includes generous coverage and resources for mental health and therapy, as well as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that offers a comprehensive range of support services. These include confidential counseling and therapy sessions, access to online resources and self-help tools, and guidance from lifestyle and specialty coaches. By offering a substantial financial contribution towards mental health services as part of our total rewards package, we’re making support more accessible and allowing employees to choose the best fit for their individual needs.

At the same time, we are always striving to expand our efforts by creating spaces and opportunities for mental health workshops, training sessions, and resources, in addition to our existing programs and offerings that we know make a significant impact. Employees have expressed appreciation for the supportive community at BenchSci and, in some cases, have highlighted that this is something they have not experienced elsewhere.

We understand that individuals may have unique mental health needs based on their experiences and identities. We strive to design our initiatives to support employees from all communities. By acknowledging and addressing the diverse needs of our people, we aim to create an inclusive environment where everyone feels supported and valued.

At BenchSci, we recognize that fostering a mentally healthy workplace is an ongoing journey. While our programs,  initiatives, and community have laid a strong foundation, we acknowledge that there is still much work to be done. We remain committed to engaging in continuous conversations, learning from our employees' experiences, and evolving our offerings. 

To other organizations embarking on their journey towards prioritizing employee mental health, I encourage you to start small but remain consistent in your efforts. Make mental health a core part of your company’s culture and commitment to health more broadly, and remember that everyone's story matters. As we continue to discuss and address mental health openly, we build a foundation of empathy that is essential for a workplace where each person can experience psychological safety, regardless of their background. 

Written By:
Fernando Suarez