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01 Apr 2022
by Dawn Lewis

Elle Hopkins on Medallia’s global mental health approach

Medallia's senior director, global total rewards talks to REBA about how it has been improving its global mental health offering to ensure consistency in its approach across its global workforce.

Two women talking to each other - one looking sad and the other supporting


Elle Hopkins, senior director, global total rewards at Medallia, the pioneer and market leader in experience management for customers, employees and citizens, spoke to us about how the business has been improving its global mental health offering to ensure consistency in its approach across its global workforce.

Feedback from employees worldwide indicated that they wanted the same level of support, such as personal therapy (already available to US based colleagues) and counselling sessions, available through the employee assistance programme (EAP). Under the US offering, members had the ability to filter providers to support them as individuals, or to seek “a therapist who looks like me”.  

It is really important to the organisation that its benefits are inclusive, and this is one of the first requirements it discusses with any new provider.

Global mental wellbeing approach
Medallia already offered a range of global wellbeing tools, including an EAP and a mental health support resource, plus access to a fitness benefit with live and on demand classes, activities and challenges online. 

Although the organisation already had mental wellbeing support in place, feedback from employees highlighted that more global parity was needed.

“This really came from the surveys that we run,” says Hopkins. “We run a quarterly employee survey - using our own employee experience software - called ‘Voice of Medallia’, and some of the feedback from it was: I heard from colleagues about this great therapy support and counselling support that’s available in the US. But I’m in xx country, and we don't have the same help. 

“So what we really wanted to do was look for a provider that offered therapy and coaching support, to all of our employees, regardless of their location” says Hopkins.

Often, she says, when accessing a therapist through private medical insurance, for example, you don’t get a choice of provider or therapist, particularly for online counselling. In the UK it will usually depend on your location, an experience often replicated in other countries. 

Finding a new provider
“We had a programme in the US with the facility for someone to say, ‘I want a therapist who has this specialism’ or ‘I want a therapist who looks like me’,” says Hopkins. “It was very well utilised and we received consistently great feedback from members, so this is what we really wanted to extend.”

The benefits team began exploring different options with a variety of providers to find out what was available. 

“We really dug down into ‘when you say you’re global, what do you really mean? Which services are available, to the same standard, in X country? What about Y?’ We often find with providers that they say they have a global offering, then when you dig a bit deeper, it’s much more limited outside of the US or UK,” says Hopkins. 

The provider it chose for its global mental health solution was able to demonstrate provision across international locations, and the range of support on offer impressed the team. From wellbeing assessments to community-led workshops and webinars, and short courses or meditations, the provider aims to support holistic wellbeing. In addition, some webinars are held in Spanish as well as English, and at different times to cater for different time zones, which was a big plus for the team.

Importantly, the new benefit provides up to six sessions with a coach or therapist on a one-to-one basis, available to both employees and their dependents. In particular, employees can select a therapist or coach from a list of qualified professionals, which includes their biographies. That means they can select the person they relate to most or who has the most relevant experience to their circumstances, supporting inclusivity.

The scheme was rolled out across Medallia’s global population at the beginning of January and, so far, about 30% of the workforce has signed up to the platform.

Inclusive workplace support
The pandemic has undoubtedly had an impact on the take-up of mental health support and visibility of services within the virtual workplace. However, Hopkins believes that the need for greater support was already there, but more open conversations about mental health are happening, making people more comfortable in asking for, or speaking up about their need for help.

The organisation’s Voice of Medallia and Pulse employee surveys are incredibly important to help      Medallia shape benefit offerings, as well as how the benefits themselves are communicated.

“We want people to feel that they have been included in the conversation and that their individual needs are being met. And we also never want to assume anything, other than that everybody is different, and everybody should feel supported,” says Hopkins.

Inclusive benefits are increasingly at the forefront of employers’ minds to ensure consistency in approach for any employee regardless of location, language or any other characteristic.