GE Canada is embarking on the third stage of its mental-health strategy with a focus on leadership behaviour and helping employees to better cope with stress.

“We’ve talked about the fact that we’ve done the hardware and now we need to do the software,” said Diana McNiven, manager of compensation and benefits at GE Canada, at Benefits Canada’s 2016 Benefits and Pension Summit last week.

“The hardware is all the policies and procedures and the like, and now we need to do the software, which is the ongoing, sustained culture change.”

Read: PowerStream offers employee resiliency workshops

The focus on leadership behaviour, according to McNiven, reflects the influence of the company’s leaders on its culture. “So, we are focusing in particular on how they build trust, how they build appreciation and how they help employees with their workload demands,” she added.

GE Canada has solicited best practices from its Canadian leadership council and is in the middle of putting together a playbook for its leaders on specific topics.

On the employee side, the company has done a lot of work around creating awareness and reducing the stigma around mental health. “The reality is there’s a lot of stress in our world and there’s going to be more stress, so we have to be able to cope with it,” said McNiven.

“How do we expand their coping skills? How do we evaluate where they’re at on an ongoing basis, identify their personal risk factors and what they can do about it? And really, broaden this back out to a total health view and tie it into the global programs that are going on.”

To help its employees, GE Canada is piloting a mental-health ally program, which McNiven described as being similar to the peer support programs that are commonly available to crisis workers.

Read: ArcelorMittal Dofasco reinforces focus on employee mental health

“These folks are going through training on all the resources we have available to employees,” she added. “They are getting trained on how to have conversations and listen when someone wants to talk and then how to help advise that person on where they might go based on the issue they’re raising.”

The company is piloting the program at two sites: its headquarters and its water business. So far, it has garnered a lot of interest and brought in a large number of volunteers. “It’s a topic that people are very engaged in and want to be engaged in,” said McNiven.

Read: 57% of workplaces have no mental health strategy

GE Canada introduced its mental health strategy in 2013. It was a finalist in the mental health category at Benefits Canada‘s 2015 Workplace Benefits Awards.

Is your company making strides in employee mental health? Nominations are now open for the 2016 awards.

Copyright © 2022 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on
See all comments Recent Comments

Harold A. Maio:

—reducing the stigma of mental health

??? I was not aware there was a negative to health. You will have to explain that one to me.

I was not aware one offered respect to someone directing a “stigma”. You will have to explain that one to me.

You educate people who hold prejudices, not emulate them.

Thursday, April 07 at 2:28 pm |

Add a comment

Have your say on this topic! Comments that are thought to be disrespectful or offensive may be removed by our Benefits Canada admins. Thanks!

* These fields are required.
Field required
Field required
Field required