Focusing On Employees' Mental Wellbeing

During turbulent times, stressors can easily mount. Mental wellbeing becomes an increasingly important factor for people as they navigate through challenges. This has been evident in recent weeks as the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of people’s lives.

Avenue Living, a private apartment building owner and operator headquartered in Calgary, recognizes the need for its employees to have access to tools and resources to help guide them through stressful moments. As an organization with frontline employees, Avenue Living has focused on delivering services to its team to help with their mental health.

Andrea Bherer, SVP, People and Culture for Avenue Living, said the company is providing tools and resources for employees to help with all facets of what they are experiencing.

Bherer said Avenue Living also has a very “fulsome” Employee Assistance Program, which is part of the company’s benefits program. The company has been communicating to its employees to ensure they know how they can access these resources, particularly now when the stress of COVID-19 is difficult for everyone.

“Mental health is top of mind for everybody at Avenue Living. We felt it was our duty to develop programs that will help people across the organization with both their professional and personal situations. As we roll into recovery, that includes being mindful of the long-term impacts that this pandemic may have on individuals. By providing this support now we hope employees are more equipped to succeed long term.”

Mental Health Week in Canada is May 4 – 10, an annual event that raises awareness of the issue in the country.

“This is a period of collective stress, and with that comes strong emotions. Avenue Living has been proactive about ensuring our people, partners, and residents are taking good care of themselves and their loved ones,” said Bherer.

Bherer stated that Avenue Living’s employees are one of its most important assets and having employees that are healthy, safe and engaged is vital. One of the initiatives the company has embarked on is Avenue Living University, which is providing resources to those employees in a unique and innovative way.

Recent and upcoming webinar topics include:

  • Supporting Your Own Mental Health
  • Supporting the Mental Health of Those Around You
  • Mental Health in a Crisis
  • Managing Emotions (Yours and Those Around You)
  • Coping in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous World
  • Adjusting Your Mindset

Some of the courses were developed with the support of Nina Hornjatkevyc, a Registered Psychologist/Practice Lead with Calgary Career Counselling and Synthesis Psychology. “Avenue Living reached out to let us know that they wanted to support their employees. The organization has a unique situation where a large portion of their staff are providing essential services and have continued their front-line service work. The remaining employees were required to suddenly make great changes to how they work, such as working from home – the first time for many of them,” said Hornjatkevyc. “Both groups are facing interesting challenges, so they wanted to provide a series of webinars to support their staff.”

Hornjatkevyc believes it is incredibly important, especially at this time, for companies to invest in initiatives like Avenue Living has done to help their employees. “It’s admirable that Avenue Living is doing this. There’s widespread acknowledgement that mental health is important but not every organization is putting into practice this type of support,” said Hornjatkevyc. “It’s truly a demonstration of how seriously Avenue Living takes the wellbeing of their employees, the people their employees are connected to and the residents within Avenue Living Communities. They want people to have as much support as possible.” she added.

“We talk a lot about supporting and providing tools and resources to our residents. While we are continuing to do that, it’s critical we also do the same thing for our employees. They are face-to-face with our residents, creating an experience and providing support.”

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