Benefits Strategy

Employee Wellness

5 Ways Zendesk Builds a Mental Health Community for the Whole Person

Jen Bergman, Global Benefits and Well-Being Program Manager at Zendesk, shares how the company takes a holistic approach to taking care of its employees.

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Jen Bergman, Program Manager for Benefits and Global Well-being at Zendesk

4 min read

Over my years in the health & wellness benefits space, I’ve seen well-being programs gradually expand to support more than physical health. We’ve come so far, and the concept of caring for the whole person has become widespread. At Zendesk, a service-first CRM software company, our benefits are designed to care for the whole person. We recognize the connection between physical and mental health. Mental health used to be a taboo subject, but as employers, we’ve made great strides in talking about mental health and providing access to benefits to treat it.

Recognizing that employees’ mental health stressors come from all areas of their work and life, Zendesk implemented a multifaceted approach to addressing its 6,000+ global workforce’s mental health needs. For example, stress reduction is critical to reducing anxiety and burnout—key challenges in the workplace right now—and Zendesk’s preventive programs tackle all the different elements that might be contributing to its workforce’s stress.

Caring for the whole person by connecting the dots

Employees aren’t always connecting the dots on how their mental health might be affected by different parts of their lives. Employers can help connect the dots by providing a more comprehensive and multifaceted approach to mental health benefits.

Zendesk’s benefits strategy views mental health through the lens of caring for the whole person across multiple well-being pillars. Because of the connection mental health has with physical health and other aspects of an employee’s life, the company’s holistic approach includes the following pillars:

  • Physical well-being: Movement and mindfulness through Calm Business as well as virtual yoga, fitness, and meditation classes.
  • Mental well-being: Access to therapists through its mental health platform and EAP, combined with Calm Business as a preventive mental health benefit to reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Financial well-being: Financial education and coaches through the mental health platform help reduce anxiety stemming from financial issues.
  • Community and social well-being: A wide range of programs that promote work-life harmony and strengthen social connectedness, including flexible scheduling, support for caregivers, manager training, DEI programs, and opportunities to volunteer and connect with coworkers regarding non-work-related interests.

5 ways to build a mental health community for the whole person

As part of our prevention strategy, Zendesk focuses on building a community to support the whole person and their mental health. Here are five ways we build a mental health community at Zendesk.

  1. The Whole Self: We’ve created a virtual community around mental health, neurodiversity (i.e., ADHD, OCD, ASD), and persons with disabilities (PwD). Over 600 employees are in the Whole Self Slack channel, all encouraged to share their stories, ask questions, or share things important to them. Programming and events include the following:
    • “Dealing with Imposter Syndrome” presentation
    • “Autism Awareness and Acceptance” session
    • Partnered with Modern Health for an “RUOK? Day” in our Asia Pacific offices
    • “Standing up for yourself” session as part of International Boost Self-Esteem month.
  2. Empathy Circles: These are safe spaces uniquely by and for employees, with a singular goal to hold time and space for each other. Empathy circles open up the discussion for members of underrepresented groups to share their experiences and stories and ask for support from their colleagues.
    • To date, we’ve hosted six global empathy circles covering topics of racism and intersectionalities across America, LATAM, EMEA, and APAC.
    • More than 900 employees have joined these conversations, including strong participation from Zendesk’s senior leadership.
    • Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, including a 95% approval rating for the overall experience from survey respondents.
  3. Leadership training: Leaders play a critical role in employee mental well-being by creating a psychologically safe environment that enables their teams to thrive and flourish. We launched a leadership development program to ensure that managers promote work-life balance, a sense of belonging, and a supportive culture. We train managers to be empathetic and mindful leaders. As part of this training, we integrate Calm Business to help our leaders become more mindful and aware of their own emotions.
  4. Integrating Calm Business in the workday: Zendesk integrates Calm Business resources throughout our Whole Self community, Empathy Circles, leadership training, and daily workday. Calm is included in Zendesk’s benefits communications as part of our digital-first environment. This includes calendar reminders about daily meditation, mindfulness tips, and well-being events. Employees started using Calm during the pandemic and now it’s very much part of our daily lives.
  5. Recharge Fridays: Finally, one of our most popular initiatives: we give our employees the time to take care of themselves with one paid Friday off every month.

Zendesk employees provide positive feedback on our well-being benefits

Zendesk’s employees gave the company’s well-being benefits high scores in a recent employee engagement survey, reflecting a high level of satisfaction with the company’s well-being benefits, which include Calm Business.

Our employees, highly engaged with Calm Business (86%), also had great feedback on Calm:

“Calm helps me de-stress at the end of the day, keep focus while working, and also makes me feel that Zendesk cares about me and my well-being.”

“This is one of the key benefits Zendesk gives me that I actually use. Having this on hand is critical to keeping my practice up and my stress levels down.”

“I love having access to this app. I find the daily meditations really soothing and helpful in managing my mental/emotional health through this stressful time. It also means a lot to me that the company provides resources like this.”

“It’s been integral to helping me get the sleep I need.”

To me, this is what it’s all about. With Calm Business and our mental health community programs targeting the whole person, we’re making a difference in improving our employees’ well-being, whether by improving their sleep or reducing their stress. As a benefits leader, I know we still have more work to do, but it’s heartwarming to know we’re having a positive impact on our employees’ whole health.

Help employees stress less, sleep better, and build more resilience with Calm Business

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