For workplaces to break down barriers around mental health support, they need a champion. At Dundee 360 Real Estate Corporation, that champion is President and CEO Brad Henderson.
As a member of CivicAction’s Mental Health in the Workplace Champions Council, Brad believes making workplaces more conducive to mental health and wellness will yield benefits in increased well-being, loyalty and productivity.
After taking over the helm in 2016, Brad ushered in a year of change for Dundee 360, a small but mighty team of 12 real estate development management professionals based in Toronto and Montreal. Under Brad’s leadership, Dundee 360 seized the opportunity to take a fresh approach by talking about mental health and integrating more mental health-supportive activities into the organization.
“The biggest threat to a company’s bottom line isn’t rejection, but rather indifference” says Brad.
Knowing that current mental health issues will account for $17 billion in lost productivity in the Toronto region alone, Brad cast aside indifference and took action for his employees and his organization.
Shortly after his arrival, Brad signaled mental health as a priority, talking about it with employees and launching a survey for staff – one as a baseline in the spring of 2017, with a second in February of 2018. His message resonated. The level of staff awareness around mental health supports skyrocketed from 28% during the original survey to 85% this February.
The key to raising awareness was taking action to strengthen mental wellness supports and to highlight what’s available through a new HR platform in addition to periodic reminders from HR, and messages from Brad.
Dundee 360 re-allocated $500 from each employee’s annual training budget into a wellness subsidy fund. The fund can be used for activities that promote and engage employees in physical and mental wellness like health club memberships and fitness programs. This initiative gained a stellar 100% in employee interest.
Dundee 360 also implemented a weekly outdoor yoga program to bolster team building and mindfulness which lasted all summer in 2017. In combination with yoga, Dundee 360 employees gained access to a library known as Lifespeak, a health and wellness professional development program including action plans, podcasts, and videos designed to help employees overcome challenges and achieve their goals.
But Dundee 360 discovered that introducing supports isn’t necessarily enough. Employees might resist making use of workplace supports due to stigma or a lack of prioritizing their own self-care.
After Dundee 360 implemented a Summer Hours policy to boost productivity and contribute to a healthier work/life balance, some employees shared that they didn’t feel they were in a position to leave early on Fridays. Dundee 360 realized they needed to think about how to convey the importance of taking advantage of summer hours and other self-care opportunities.
To ensure self-care initiatives will stick, management is adopting a lead-by-example approach and communicating that mindset on a regular basis. Dundee 360’s team has started circulating internal newsletters to reinforce initiatives and aiming for continuous self-improvement through training and workshops.
Two years into his mandate as President and CEO, breaking down barriers for employees to improve their mental health is still Brad Henderson’s personal call to action. “From awareness raising to knowledge sharing, I want to empower employees through my leadership to assess, address, and improve mental health in our workplace.”
An estimated 1 in 2 people in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area’s labour force have experienced a mental health issue. Ignite mental health support in your workplace by taking the MindsMatter Assessment today.