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Elevate 2022: Seamless Support Across Culturally Diverse Workforces

Lydia Wright, Senior Manager of Global Benefits at Atlassian, and Emma Woodburn, Benefits Specialist at Intel, join Modern Health at Elevate 2022 to discuss how culturally centered care and engagement campaigns in preferred languages and time zones significantly boosts employee benefit utilization.

Elevate is Modern Health’s annual mental health event that brings together thousands of HR and Benefits professionals and shares insights from mental healthcare thought leaders, experts, and advocates. This Q&A is excerpted from a conversation between Lorna Henri, SVP of Customer Success at Modern Health, Lydia Wright, Senior Manager of Global Benefits at Atlassian, and Emma Woodburn, Benefits Specialist at Intel, during our 2022 Elevate. You can watch the full session on-demand

Modern Health: Diving into the topic of global populations: there are several factors like primary languages and cultural nuances that come into play when considering support for employees. How do these factors play a role in supporting your people, and how do you account for varying approaches to mental health from country to country?

Lydia Wright: We start with a global strategy, but we also appreciate that there isn't a one size fits all. So using the global philosophy or strategy as your baseline or your starting point is so helpful. But then being really considerate and understanding what's applicable for localizing and what makes sense in each country.

Emma Woodburn: We'll have a global strategy, but realize that maybe if we implement a benefit in one country, it's not going to be a copy-paste implementation into another country. It's really important for us to involve the local stakeholders early in the process and understand what might be affecting that region–specifically what communication channels employees are typically using and what local languages people are communicating in. I think one of the unique things when it comes to mental health benefits is understanding the language that folks in that country might be using to discuss mental health. So for example, we launched Modern Health to India recently and understood that their umbrella of terms when it comes to mental health might incorporate spirituality as one of the things they discuss. So understanding the cultural nuances and talking to local stakeholders is really important for us when we are designing a localized benefit strategy.

MH: Tell us how global coverage impacts your population today. What is the primary must have?

LW: Atlassian was one of the first organizations to announce a distributed workforce during the pandemic. We call it Team Anywhere. Given the workforce and global footprint, it was really important that we started with a consistent and equitable approach. In my opinion, the primary must-haves for a mental health solution would be something that's easily accessible to the employees wherever they may be, especially when working from home–a care that is tailored and personalized. We love that Modern health allows employees to take it upon themselves and do a self check-in or pick the therapist that they wish to continue this journey with and seek support. No matter the situation they might be facing, there's always that continuous support loop available to them.

EW: I think when it comes to mental health there are going to be these barriers or stigmas to accessing care. Once someone decides they do want to access care, we want to make sure there aren't any barriers to the right level of care they need. Accessibility is huge for us. And I think, again, when it comes to a distributed or global workforce, having something that's culturally accessible is also really important.

MH: How have you seen attitudes towards mental health shift or evolve across your employee population?

LW: This is something we're quite proud of. We're consciously trying to shift the view around stigma and mental health, so we make an concerted effort in every announcement and wellbeing initiative to construct messaging that is open, educated, and compassionate. Circles play a great role in opening up the dialogue and enabling Atlassians to take away tangible tools they can use in their everyday work or personal life. We are also so fortunate that internally we have sponsors and advocates around mental wellbeing and mental health. They're willing to openly share their personal stories or mental wellbeing journeys, and I think sharing that vulnerability allows our employees to relate and, in turn, further breaks down the stigma.

MH: How has Circles impacted stigma within Intel's employee population? Have you observed any regional differences?

EW: Circles is definitely something we are using at Intel quite a bit. For example, we hosted a Circle with the network of Intel employees of African ancestry. It was led by three Black Modern Health providers, and it was a discussion based Circle–it was probably the most well-attended and engaged circle I've ever been to. It really felt like it was a safe space for folks to share their lived experiences, questions, and struggles. Having these pockets of community building tied to either an identity or a specific situation that might be going on in the world within working hours has been really effective for us. We recognize when we host Circles for our employees, it's important to connect it to some sort of event or something that may be impacting a certain region–like the war in Ukraine or Roe v Wade getting overturned. It makes the Circle feel like it's addressing this community concern, and we tend to see really positive outcomes from that. We see people signing up for the various mental health resources we have–which the ultimate goal in breaking down that stigma is seeing people access the things available to them.

MH: I wanted to mention that just driving engagement can really be a challenge globally. Is there a particular technique you found effective to drive engagement with your employees?

EW: We have employee resource groups or ERGs, such as Women at Intel Network or Pacific Islanders of Intel. I try to partner closely with the leads of those ERGs to understand what might be going on or affecting them, and then understanding how we can partner with our mental health providers to leverage things like community Circles with Modern Health on various topics. We've seen that work really well because it's very personalized to that group, and it makes them feel like the care they're receiving is culturally relevant.

LW:  The things we are doing to ensure we're communicating and providing education around the benefit tying in Modern Health to our wellbeing benefits and with our wellbeing weeks. The other thing we’re doing to drive engagement is making sure that employees know what types of benefits they have. We have a strategy where every month we have a theme for the Circles and then allowing them to be in each time zone so that our employees can attend and engage with a different topic if they wish to.

Elevate 2023 is October 4. Please register and join us for more insightful conversations with industry leaders and experts.