Workplace Inclusion: Supporting Mental Health in the Workplaces
Find out the business case for hiring persons with mental health conditions and how Oracle Singapore supports its employees.
Social inclusion was found to be a key factor to improve the quality of life of persons with mental health conditions. Employment is a way of inclusion and while many persons with mental health conditions expressed the desire to be employed, stigma and misconceptions are barriers to them achieving employment.
These were findings in a research conducted by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) in 20161 to understand the needs of persons with mental health conditions across six domains of the World Health Organisation's Quality of Life measure (primarily, physical, level of independence, social relationships, environment, psychological and personal beliefs).
A 2017 NCSS survey of 505 companies2 found that every $1 invested in workplace adjustments like access to counselling, flexi-work arrangements and job re-design, generated an average return of S$5.60. Benefits included reduction in absenteeism, reduction in medical claims and increase in average working hours per employee per week.
As an employer, you can set the tone and build an inclusive culture to support employees' mental health through three areas - knowledge, practice and environment. Some examples of how this can be done are to conduct talks for employees on mental health, supervisor training, encouragement of dialogue on mental health and provide employees with access to support and resources. You can also review your company's HR policies and hiring practices.
Let's find out how Oracle Singapore* does some of these to support its employees' mental health and include persons with mental health conditions in their workplace.
(*a wholly-owned subsidiary of the world's second largest software company, Oracle Corporation, and a pledge signer of the Beyond the Label Movement that aims to reduce mental health stigma)
At Oracle, we foster an inclusive environment that leverages the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of all our employees, suppliers, customers and partners to drive a sustainable global competitive advantage. Individual differences present us with opportunities to examine business issues from varying perspectives. Incorporating these different viewpoints gives us greater agility and creativity. The result is a workforce unified by common goals yet strengthened by uncommon outlooks.
We have employee resource groups for various communities and interest groups and that includes one for employees with mental health conditions and others who are interested in the topic. This way, we can enable and support fellow employees to bring their whole true selves into the company and in turn excel in meeting their aspirations.
Oracle Singapore supports our employees with mental health conditions in three ways - Recruitment & Career Development, Awareness, and Workplace Enablement.
Firstly, once a year, a training on unconscious biases is organised for our management and talent acquisition teams. This is to ensure that we upkeep with our intention of being a fair employer for candidates' selection and employees' career development.
Secondly, we reach out to employees on the ground to raise awareness on the resources we have available for both employees with mental health conditions as well as colleagues who work closely with these individuals. We recognise that mental health conditions do not only affect individuals but also their family, friends and colleagues. Managers are mandated to participate in a mental health workshop that helps them understand the basics of the topic, recognise personal biases, and look out for potential signs of conditions in employees. Separately, about twice a year, we invite speakers who are mental health specialists to speak with interested employees in our office. On a larger scale, mental health is a key segment in our annual Corporate Wellness event. For instance, in the recent Corporate Wellness event, we invited professions in the field to share on topics such as Embracing Happiness, Emotion Regulations, Maintaining Balance in Life and Beyond the Label: Understanding Mental Health. The last topic was co-facilitated by a Psychologist and one of our employees who shared on her recovery journey. As an ongoing initiative, we're looking to restart our bi-weekly Mindfulness sessions to help our employees cope with their daily stress & anxieties and build a supportive community internally.
Lastly, Workplace Enablement. Due to fast-paced environment and frequent overseas engagements, our employees are empowered to manage their time and wellbeing, with flexible work hours and remote working arrangements that they can agree with their managers. As part of our Employee Assistance Program, Oracle engages a third party which offers confidential 24/7 professional counselling to all employees and their family members. Finally, our flexi-benefits program allows for employees to reimburse their counselling, psychological and psychiatrist treatments. As a pledged company behind 'Beyond the Label' campaign, Oracle's culture as a whole is one that is accepting and versatile. We appreciate that every individual brings something valuable to the table and that is often as a result of their life experiences. Personal experiences such as managing existing mental health conditions or the journeys recovering persons have taken are assets that can be utilised to build relationships with internal stakeholders and provide quality service to our customers.
It's a continuous journey for us to deepen our understanding and provide an optimal environment for our employees with mental health conditions. With collective efforts across the organisation, we have seen successful cases of employees who thrive in their roles. For example, we have the pleasure to have one of Beyond the Label's ambassadors, Deborah Seah, as part of our Marketing team.
Deborah is an excellent performer. Within one year, her job scope has expanded significantly. This is a testament of the amount of trust she has gained from her team members and her capabilities that help her excel at her job.
We aim to provide employees like Deborah the environment for them to feel completely comfortable in their own skin and in turn be able to dedicate their strengths and focus in their role.
With the prevalence of 1 in 7 persons having experienced a mental health condition in their lifetime3, employers have a role to play. You can start conversations about mental health so that employees can feel psychologically safe and seek help early. To find out more about the resources and support available to facilitate the creation of an inclusive workplace and to hire persons with mental health conditions, please refer to the Mental Health Toolkit for Employers.
You can also consider pledging to support Beyond the Label, a nation-wide mental health anti-stigma movement led by NCSS. For more information and how you can pledge your support, please visit Beyond the Label or contact the Mental Health Services team at NCSS_Mental_Health@ncss.gov.sg.
This article was contributed by NCSS and Oracle Singapore in conjunction with Global Mental Health Day.
1NCSS's Quality of Life Study on "Understanding the Quality of Life of Adults with Mental Health Issues (2016)".
3The Institute of Mental Health's "Singapore Mental Health Study (2016)".