And it’s why being named for the first time to the 2021 list of Best Workplaces™ for Mental Wellness – amidst a global pandemic – is both humbling and an honour.
"Being on this list is a tangible way of knowing we're walking the talk," says Audrey Wedewer, CWB Brand Manager.
“This isn’t something we submitted an award application for, and we still have lots of work to do, but it reflects what our employees are saying and what they’re feeling during a time that hasn’t been easy for anyone. And that makes it even more meaningful.”
The 2021 list of Best Workplaces™ for Mental Wellness is based on direct feedback from employees of the hundreds of organizations that were surveyed by Great Place to Work®., the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures.
To be eligible, organizations must be Great Place to Work- Certified™ in the past year, and at least 80% of employees must agree their workplace is psychologically and emotionally healthy. The ‘best’ list is then determined based on the overall Mental Wellness Index score from employees.
As CWB pivoted with the pandemic, employees were often asked to adapt or do more during a time that was not just difficult professionally but sometimes in their personal lives as well – with the two worlds often blending as many employees transitioned to working from home.
“When you’re in the office and engaging with people, you can really feel the culture, feel the value we place on people and relationships, so the challenge has been ensuring employees still feel connected, supported and heard when we can’t all be together in the same physical space and need to shift to bringing the office into the home,” says Kari Bilyk, CWB Senior Manager, Organizational Effectiveness. “And that’s where continually listening and checking in are so important to make sure we’re on top of how people are really doing.”
Bilyk says regular pulse check surveys throughout the year help the organization tune into how employees are feeling and inform mental wellness plans and strategies. And while mental wellness was certainly brought to a major forefront over the past year, it’s also a cornerstone of CWB’s employee experience, aligning with the concept of being supported in bringing your whole self to work.
An example of this in action is its numerous Employee Represented Groups (ERGs). Grassroots and employee-led, ERGs are meant to connect employees with like interests and mindset and can represent any kind of unique collective or topic areas within CWB. These include LGBTQ2S+, Indigenous employees, people with disabilities (visible or invisible), and mental health and wellness.
In November 2020, a Health 360 ERG was launched to complement the bank’s mental health and wellness programs. It aims to connect employees, raise awareness around self-care and mental health, and offer mental health supports and resources for both the urgent and everyday needs of employees. Over the past year, Health 360 has led initiatives like Freedom Fridays (facilitating conversations about different mental health-related topics in a judgement-free forum) and Mental Health Week activities such as meditation and gratitude practices, as well as stress management skills and strategies.
While there’s always more work to be done, being named to the 2021 list of Best Workplaces™ for Mental Wellness offers reassurance that you’re journeying together down the right path, says Bilyk.
“This year I think was unchartered territory for everyone, and so we really just leaned into our values to help guide us. Those values have people at their core and the desire for a culture that makes a difference to people.
“And when we can make a difference in our employees’ lives, that’s something that also translates to our clients and our community.”