As a health-focused company, we’re passionate about ensuring the mental health of our employees. Almost 20% of adults suffer from mental health issues each year, and more than 70% experience at least one symptom of stress. Worldwide acknowledgment of these concerns has increased in the past few decades, but there is still a stigma surrounding mental health issues that discourages people from seeking help. Mental health issues can affect every part of a person's life, both in the workplace and outside it. It can also impact everyone and everything they interact with, from family and friends to colleagues and clients, and even the companies they work for. When employers fail to acknowledge mental health in the workplace, not only do employees suffer, productivity suffers as well. According to the WHO's estimates, mental health issues in the workplace are responsible for $1 trillion in productivity loss annually worldwide.
The current pandemic only exacerbated mental health issues, both at home and in the workplace. For some, working from home has blurred the lines between their personal and professional lives—it's harder to leave work in the workplace at the end of the day when your home and workplace are the same. On the other hand, physically going into work raises concerns about catching or spreading a potentially deadly virus, which is also detrimental to mental health.
What BenchSci is doing to help
At BenchSci, health is our top priority. We extend our health-focused approach beyond our products to our daily operations and culture. Part of that is ensuring our team is healthy mentally as well as physically. We're committed to creating an inclusive environment that is understanding and supportive of mental health. For proof of this commitment, look no further than our CEO, Liran Belenzon. Liran credits counseling with changing his life and his outlook as a startup founder and CEO. His leadership and passion for this issue guide us in creating the best working environment for everyone. In fact, BenchSci has been named one of Best Workplaces™ for Mental Wellness 2021 and is ranked tenth on the Best Workplaces in Canada (100-999 Employees) list!
To provide team members with the support they need, we ensure everyone has access to:
- A transparent and open culture: We encourage an environment where people can be comfortable enough to talk about mental health issues, admit their vulnerabilities, and seek support without the fear of being stigmatized.
- Why: Because being open and talking about these issues helps to normalize them and shows others in similar situations that they are not alone.
- One-on-one coaching: Kari Sulenes, Independent Director of Leadership, and Jomar Gomez, Independent Leadership Coach, are available to provide confidential one-on-one coaching for employees who want to discuss and work through the challenges they face, both in and outside the workplace.
- Why: Because talking through your personal issues with a trained professional can help you understand yourself in new ways and see your challenges from a different perspective.
- Espresa: Whether it is working out, getting better sleep, calming the mind, or eating right, employees can use a lifestyle spending account for eligible expenses on the wellness, lifestyle, and productivity products or services that best meet their needs.
- Why: How we think about well-being is different and personal for everyone. This program allows flexibility and freedom for employees to decide how they want to utilize this program and when.
- LifeWorks: Employees have access to a network of clinical counselors and certified coaches via phone, chat, video, or in-person through LifeWorks to support them through their work and personal challenges 24/7, 365 days a year.
- Why: Because life’s challenges don’t wait until it’s convenient, and if a crisis strikes at 3 a.m. on New Year’s Eve you still deserve access to the support you need.
- Remote-first workplace: BenchSci became a remote-first company after seeing how working remotely during the pandemic benefitted our employees both professionally and personally. It wasn’t originally the plan, but after consulting with employees, seeing the data, and following our leadership principle of strong convictions loosely held, we made it official.
- Why: Because when employees are given the freedom to work in the environment that suits them best, they can do their best work. Inclusion always benefits everyone.
- Roam Like You’re Working From Home: As we are a remote-first workplace, we’ve also enabled employees to work outside of their country of employment for a maximum of 90 days over a rolling 12-month period.
- Why: We believe in giving our employees the flexibility to integrate their love of travel or personal obligations with meeting the daily responsibilities of their role.
- Unlimited Flex-Time: We know life doesn't always go as planned. We've given unlimited “Flex-Time” to all of our team members so that, they can handle the unpredictable things life throws their way without dipping into their vacation time. Whether it’s taking a day off to recover, compassionate care, running errands, or even volunteering.
- Why: Because “time off” looks different for everyone, and we want our team to use it in a way that enables them to do their best work without red tape getting in the way.
- Extended vacation time: We start all team members with three weeks of vacation to schedule as they wish, plus two weeks off for the winter holidays, and every other Friday off in July and August. The entire company gets time off in the summer and winter so that team members can truly relax without worrying about work.
- Why: Because people are happier when they are relaxed and refreshed, and happy people are more productive and enjoyable to work with.
- Base Camp 5: After completing their fifth year of service at BenchSci, employees are eligible to take a one-time paid sabbatical leave for four consecutive weeks.
- Why: After working hard an extended break can be needed from work to properly recharge and for self-reflection, personal projects, volunteering, traveling the world, or spending more time with family.
- Internal training: We launched a 60-minute online course for people managers to help them understand different mental illnesses and concepts, including how to talk to their direct reports about it and what BenchSci support programs are available. For all employees, there are articles about how to measure, talk about, and prevent burnout developed by Kari.
- Why: Because acknowledging and understanding the personal problems of others as well as ourselves doesn’t come intuitively for everyone, but everyone can learn to be better at it.
- Mental health benefits: We've expanded our mental health benefits to cover up to ten counseling sessions.
- Why: In a time when mental wellness is being tested on a daily basis, we wanted to ensure mental wellness coverage (Registered Psychologist, Registered Social Worker, or Registered Psychotherapist) is accessible for all employees and their dependents.
- BenchSci Forward: We're leveraging our business as a platform for meaningful change. One component of this is working with third-party organizations to increase mental health awareness at work.
- Why: Because while mental health issues affect many people, their loved ones, and society at large, it remains stigmatized, and we want to do something about that.
With these measures, we help our team develop valuable coping skills, build resilience to adversity, and show compassion and empathy for the people around them. Our goals are to do even more for our employees, help destigmatize the conversation about mental health, and inspire other organizations to do the same.
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