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Enhancing Mental Health Awareness at the Workplace

A conversation with Chris Meador, VP of Marketing at Wistia

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused employers and employees different kinds of challenges. For both, concerns surrounding employee productivity during a pandemic and overall Mental Health issues at the workplace have become two core workplace themes in 2020. In this conversation with TecHRseries, Chris Meador, VP of Marketing at Wistia discusses the importance of organizations implementing a strong two-way culture that allows a healthier employer-employee bond while ensuring business output.

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Chris Meador

Hi Chris! Tell us about yourself and what a day at work is like….

My passion in my work is team building. When I began my career in media, I discovered I love the challenge of taking a strategy with little structure and building focus to help power organizations.

Working in tech has shown me that one of my super powers is taking the obscure and creating structure and focus. I also have a passion for launching cool new products and have worked on some incredibly successful launches in my career — most notably the launch of Xbox One. I also helped launch important business features when I was at Facebook, such as premium video buying. Working on a launch from the beginning as an idea and seeing it through to fruition is incredibly rewarding and has been some of my favorite parts of my career.

When it comes to my role and day at work; if you ask my kids, they would say my day is just talking on Zoom. However, having been hired as Vice President, Marketing during the pandemic – a big part of my day is connecting dots between different teams as we all operate remotely. I sit at the unique position where I see all of the levers of marketing as well as opportunities across product, sales and strategy. I look at my role as making sure we maximize the value between those connections to deliver the greatest value to our customers and the business.

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As a business leader; you’ve been driving change to enhance mental health awareness at the workplace; can you share a few thoughts on why this is so crucial for businesses today especially given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the workforce; in what ways do you feel businesses and HR leaders should create better initiatives to support this?

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many business and HR leaders have recognized the importance in discussing mental health in the workplace. With remote work, there is less of an opportunity to “check your baggage at the door.” Personal and professional lives are merging in ways they haven’t before, and we’re getting a better understanding of our coworkers lives outside of 9 am – 5 pm.

This makes it even more important to discuss mental health in the workplace because really it is about checking in with our employees and giving them space to be real. People have always had mental health challenges, but remote work has lessened our abilities to compartmentalize our personal lives with what we face at work. As a result, business and HR leaders need to prioritize mental health in the workplace. A big way to do this is starting by improving company culture and making sure workplaces are inclusive communities. This means being available for employees with empathy, not just sympathy. As humans, we naturally want to solve problems. Currently, we’re all experiencing an unsolvable problem with COVID-19, but we’re expected to work through it. Mental health can be similar. It’s important not to approach a coworker’s struggles by trying to solve them, but to be available for them to talk to or to send them encouragement to take vacation time. Reminding employees to take time off – even if travel is limited – is a small step that can increase a sense of community while supporting one another.

It’s also important to mention that improving mental health in the workplace is a good business practice. If employees are not able to bring their whole selves to work every day, they won’t be as productive. Fostering a supportive environment increases productivity because employees are empowered with the tools they need to meet challenges as they arise.

What best practices would you share with teams / HR leaders who are looking to revamp how they view and address challenges related to mental health troubles / concerns among team members? How can team members support each other better when it comes to mental health?

At Wistia, I start every meeting by asking my team members, “How are you?”. I’m not asking to hear about how they’re progressing on a task — although I welcome those updates later in a meeting — I’m asking because I want to set the example that it’s okay to share personal challenges with coworkers and because I want to connect more closely with my team. It’s important to me that team members know they can come to me with any challenges, whether or not they relate to work. Asking my team “How are you?” helps break down barriers to discussing our personal lives, and can help to normalize talking about mental health.

Another initiative we recently introduced at Wistia that HR leaders could consider is an optional review process. Typically, we utilize full 360 reviews (peer reviews), but we opted for a lighter lift cycle this time, consisting only of a self-review and manager response. We also made this review fully optional, as we understand not everyone is in the right headspace for feedback at the moment. Employees were able to opt-out of the review completely, or skip over specific questions. Managers were also given extra time to provide feedback.

We made this decision out of respect for our employees, each of whom has experienced the COVID-19 pandemic in different ways. Whatever the case may be, Wistia is focused on supporting employees in any way possible.

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As a parting thought; a few tips for business leaders to keep in mind when adjusting to the new normal

It’s important to keep in mind that we all have a lot going on outside of the office. Check-in on your coworkers who are buying their first house, adjusting wedding plans because of the pandemic, attempting the second season of remote learning, or embracing life’s new challenges in some other way. Work is how we spend the majority of our time Monday-Friday, but it’s important to remember that your coworkers have lives outside of that, and you should do your best to get to know them in that way as well. Who someone is outside of 9-5 should be just as important to you as who they are during the workday.

 

Wistia is a friendly neighborhood video-software company. They help businesses add their videos to the web, track their performance, and build and engage with their audiences in meaningful ways. From video marketing solutions to video creation and editing tools like Soapbox, Wistia’s suite of intuitive and powerful products reduces the barrier to better business communication. With Wistia, anyone can create, host, manage, distribute, and analyze great-looking video content that builds human connections, regardless of experience level. More than half a million businesses across 50 countries depend on Wistia’s products to power more creative and authentic communications.

 Chris Meador is VP, Marketing at Wistia.