Having already experienced the impact of Dialogue’s primary care services, IATA implemented Dialogue’s mental health services in 2019. This gave employees access to a full range of practical, hands-on mental health resources that allowed IATA’s staff to seek help with stress management and other mental and general health concerns. IATA saw high levels of satisfaction and utilization among staff, resulting in an incredible ROI and positive experiences among employees.
Founded in 1945, International Air Transport Association (IATA) supports aviation with global standards for airline safety, security, efficiency, and sustainability. Its mission is to represent, lead and serve the airline industry. With offices all around the globe including Geneva, Madrid, Singapore, Miami, Beijing, and Montreal, the organization has around 1400 employees worldwide, including over 280 employees in their Montreal office.
IATA already provided corporate wellness resources to encourage good physical health – including gym membership reimbursements – but the issue of mental health in the workplace remained unaddressed in their list of offered benefits. “We would often talk about mental health to create awareness, and would even host events or invite a guest speaker to present in support of World Mental Health Day, but we still did not have any concrete programs in place to help our employees on mental health matters,” says Rodica Crasnic, IATA’s People, Performance & Development (PPD) Manager in Montreal.
Dialogue’s stress management and well-being program was the first resource that gave IATA the ability to offer a tangible solution for employees to manage their workplace stress, anxiety and overall well-being. The program is designed to help employees build coping mechanisms and proactively manage early distress signs to prevent mental health issues from getting worse (ex. burnout). This is accomplished with educational resources, counselling sessions, and more to help employees be their best selves and, in turn, do their best work.
Having the mental health program allows IATA’s HR team to monitor utilization trends. This ability provides an opportunity to make proactive data-driven decisions to determine how successfully the program is resonating with employees.
During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, IATA’s HR team was able to measure and manage employee well-being by meeting with their Dialogue account manager and evaluating the level of mental health support requests. This ensured that there weren’t any significant or alarming utilization spikes. However, there are a few ways of looking at usage spikes:
Good adoption of the services means people are turning to the resources in their toolkit to proactively manage workplace and general stress, anxiety and other mental health challenges
Initiatives IATA is doing in conjunction with the Dialogue services are effective (reduction of stigma, frequent communication about resources available)
Although 86% of Canadians report having a family physician, securing an appointment with one when you don’t have a family doctor can be challenging. For organizations like IATA where nearly 50% of staff are expatriates, Dialogue is an excellent option for the following reasons:
Allows employees to get the help they need when they need it, regardless of whether or not they have a family doctor.
Provides a resource to manage the unique stressors expatriates may be experiencing by being physically distanced from their friends and family, which can be essential to their well-being.
“Dialogue’s virtual care and mental health services give me peace of mind because many people on our Montreal team moved here from abroad specifically to work at IATA,” says Crasnic. This typically means they do not have family physicians and their support networks may be located far away.
The time that was typically taken up by IATA employees taking time off work for a doctor’s visit was significantly reduced by using Dialogue’s services and employee productivity was boosted. According to Crasnic, Dialogue eliminates the anxiety of thinking, “I need to see a doctor, how do I find one?” Dialogue’s app is always accessible with a healthcare professional to help with your concerns, and IATA is certain that Dialogue had a very positive impact on workplace morale.
Certain things like disability cases are unavoidable in a large group of over 300 people, particularly during unpredictable years. But thanks to Dialogue’s mental health program, IATA believes that they may have prevented a number of disability cases among employees in their Montreal division. In fact, calculations show that IATA has saved an estimated $73,846.00 in disability prevention through Dialogue’s services.
“In a year like this, I would have expected the mental health crisis cases to skyrocket – but they did not,” Crasnic reports. Anecdotally, she believes this may mean that people have been turning to Dialogue to cope and have become more resilient. According to a survey, 100% of IATA members who have used Dialogue’s mental health services were very satisfied and would be very likely to recommend the platform to others, while 88.8% believed that the program met their full needs.
The mental health services provided by Dialogue are there to help members understand the issues they’re experiencing and the next steps to take and get better. “The people at Dialogue are helping our people make the right decisions for themselves,” says Crasnic. “I am sure that Dialogue has made a difference for our team in a proactive way.”
Communicated Dialogue’s services and updates through their internal communication network. Employees can ask questions freely and start conversations related to services, among other subjects.
Repurposed content communicated by Dialogue to employees through email, from newsletters to simple updates.
IATA’s learning academy offers plenty of courses that revolve around mental health awareness, including how to be resilient in the face of uncertainty, which complimented Dialogue’s stress management and well-being program.
For the first time in 2020, IATA created a new project intended to help employees called the RUOK initiative. Certain employees volunteered to be RUOK program champions and were provided with mental health First Aid training with a certified coach. Program ambassadors were instructed on how to listen to the issues voiced by others and identify ways to help them cope. This program initiated the conversation on mental health in the workplace and helped promote Dialogue’s mental health program throughout the company.
Mental health is an increasingly important issue that affects our daily lives. COVID-19 has significantly highlighted the issue of mental health, with 50% of Canadians having reported worsening mental health since the beginning of the pandemic. For Crasnic, she thinks that if you're an employer and you're serious about providing your employees with the right tools to be the best version of themselves, then it’s your responsibility to provide them with a tool related to mental health. “I would go ahead and say that mental health is actually probably the most important thing,” she says.
The role of employers within employee mental health is vital, Crasnic says. “We can not only leave it up to employees. Employers have more power and more financial resources.” Maintaining mental and physical health alike falls on each person individually, but they need to have access to the appropriate resources to be able to do so.
By providing access to mental health services, IATA recognized that their employees may have mental health struggles and that what employers see at work is just the tip of the iceberg.
From an employer standpoint, it can be challenging to see the whole picture of what goes on behind employees’ closed doors. With a 19% utilization rate among IATA staff, it became clear that while not all employees were using the service, there was a significant number of employees who clearly found mental health resources to be beneficial.
Back in March 2020 when COVID-19 became a concern, IATA, like many other companies, transitioned to working from home. Prior to the pandemic, their company culture wasn’t one whose DNA was composed of working apart, remotely; they’re an organization that revolves around travel and being physically present in spaces. To all of a sudden be separated and not be accustomed to working remotely changed the dynamic entirely and impacted the routines and mental health of all involved.
“If there is a resource in place, it means that there is a need for it,” Crasnic says. “Even if some employees do not have an immediate need for it, you can simply be proactive about maintaining your mental health. Dialogue is a great resource to have.”