Accenture is a global management consulting and professional services firm with 435,000 employees world-wide, 75 per cent of whom belong to the millennial generation.
In early 2017, Accenture launched the Mental Health Ally Network (The Network) as part of a global commitment to being “truly human” which focuses on improving how people work and live.
Accenture responded to workplace health assessment results that indicated a need for further training, education and support for mental health.
Randy Wandmacher, Australia and New Zealand HR Lead said the high rates of depression and anxiety in the general population were part of the reason mental health was prioritised at Accenture.
According to beyondblue – 1 million Australian adults have depression and more than 2 million have anxiety in any one year.
Currently, the Mental Health Ally Network has 295 members and more than 90 participants attend monthly meetings, consisting of a mix of leaders and peers. Members provide support to employees who are struggling and raise awareness about mental health challenges.
Wandmacher said that anecdotally, he has noticed a shift in employee mindsets regarding mental health. The taboo around practices like seeing a therapist have started to break down.
The Network runs programs around four main areas: heart, body, mind and soul. One training program in the area of “mind” teaches employees effective techniques on how to focus. Although most employees are multi-tasking at work, Wandmacher said the practice could be more detrimental to work productivity.
Accenture have encouraged employees to eliminate distractions – Wandmacher said research has shown that after the “proverbial ping” of a distraction, it takes 20 minutes of concentration before being able to fully return to a task.
Sleep is another area of wellbeing that Accenture is addressing – its Australian offices have new quiet multi-purpose facilities that allow employees to take naps if they need to.
Accenture also take in account their office space, making sure there is greenery in the office – which research shows helps to alleviate stress and create a more positive emotional state.
More broadly, Wandmacher said ultimately it is difficult when employees are not able to be their true authentic self at work and therefore the organisation encourages employees to, “be yourself and make a difference.”
For organisations facing similar challenges, Wandmacher said although the process is not always a linear one, it is important to keep moving forwards and, “be prepared to make mistakes.”
Accenture’s own initiatives were born out of proactive listening and creating an environment that fosters creativity and curiosity – “all the things that robots can’t do,” Wandmacher said.
DID YOU KNOW?
Two in five Australian workers (42%) define wellbeing as, “when I have found balance across my physical, mental, social and spiritual life”. One in three (33%) see it as, “when I feel physically and mentally fit and well”. (Workplace Wellbeing Report)