While March 2020 may be in the rearview mirror for many of us, today’s employees continue to endure the long term impacts of the pandemic. From the psychological effects and exacerbated chronic conditions to burnout and economic pressures, employees are facing challenges that are affecting their overall mental health and wellbeing. The recent TELUS Mental Health Index, found that the mental health of Canadians is still declining, with 74% having a high or moderate mental health risk.
These challenges can have a dramatic effect on health and productivity. As such, Canadian employees are turning to their employers for resources to help manage these challenges. In increasing numbers, employers are answering this call and searching for solutions that can address the needs of their workforce. In that search, they are recognizing the importance of having one point of access for those solutions, personalized services, and compassion and empathy to help employees navigate to the right specialized healthcare professional at the right time.
Walmart Canada and TELUS Health came together at the Toronto edition of the 2022 CHRO Executive Summit to showcase how they were able to align on an innovative vision of health and wellbeing for Walmart associates.
After carefully identifying gaps in their current offerings, Walmart was able to enhance their employees’ experience by streamlining digital access to wellness solutions, increase awareness of offerings to help boost effectiveness, and diversify their services while ensuring associates can easily navigate programs to get support when and where they need it. Here’s how.
Recognizing workforce needs.
With retail, grocery and e-commerce services remaining open, Walmart Canada’s diverse workforce of 100,000 associates were on the frontlines of the pandemic. During this period, the company was dealing with similar challenges that other employers were facing: employee absenteeism, declining mental health, decreased access to healthcare and overall fear of the unknown. While the company actively adopted services to support their workforce, including TELUS Health Virtual Care, to help ensure continuity of business, Walmart recognized an opportunity to further support the overall wellbeing of their associates.
This included the importance of overall workforce wellbeing, and that it was imperative they find accessible solutions to support the physical, mental and financial wellbeing of their associates and their families.
What’s more, they acknowledged that the pandemic wrote a new social contract between employers and employees. “The expectations of the workforce are changing and the expectations across all aspects of the support provided by an employer has increased - specifically as it relates to wellbeing ” says AnnMarie Mercer, Walmart Canada’s Chief People Officer. “We take that very seriously and want to ensure our associates have what they need when they need it.”
Solving for wellbeing.
Walmart adopted wellbeing as a core tenet of their people strategy across the organization, and committed to ingraining it in their company culture. In approaching wellbeing as a catalyst for growth and not a trade-off, the company was able to establish a vision and set goals that placed wellbeing at the center of every associate interaction, ensuring it was felt by communities and recognized externally.
To address the needs of their associates—and inspired by their mission for customers and associates to “Save Money. Live Better”—Walmart ran a series of surveys, listening sessions and mini pulses to identify the challenges their employees were facing. While the research revealed opportunities with the company’s current benefits and wellbeing offering, their associates were asking for more support to improve mental and physical health, financial strains, struggles with work/life balance, the need to minimize out of pocket costs, and the need for simple tools and access .
With this in mind, Walmart modernized their current offering to provide a comprehensive virtual wellbeing solution (virtual care, EAP and wellbeing services) that was relevant to their diverse workforce, easy to navigate, mobile-led, and delivered in the language of their choice.
Personalized health solutions across the care continuum.
Walmart chose TELUS Health as a partner to help support the health and wellbeing of their associates and eligible dependents. A key part for the company in this strategic partnership is TELUS Health’s ability to grow and pivot as the needs of Walmart and their associates evolve across the care continuum.
“We feel confident in the partnership we’ve built with TELUS Health,” says Mercer. “We’re making the experience of accessing health and wellbeing support easier and personalized; helping to ensure our associates' needs are met at the time they need it most, without having to remember ten different phone numbers, or ten different points of access.”
With TELUS Health’s suite of digital solutions, Walmart associates now have access to one source for all of their health and wellbeing services. Additionally, the clinically appropriate counseling model ensures associates receive the personalized care they need at no cost.
TELUS Health Virtual Care provides Walmart associates with 24/7 access to on-demand virtual consultations with dedicated clinicians who can address their primary physical and mental health needs through encrypted text and video. On the same platform, associates can use TELUS Health EAP, an enhanced employee assistance program, to access mental health support and work/life services for themselves and their immediate families. To meet the need for an organizational wellbeing and engagement platform, TELUS Health Wellbeing was implemented to help associates build and sustain healthy habits in an engaging way with assessments, challenges, videos and more.
Alongside these enhanced benefits, Walmart will be supported with a communications strategy to help with associates’ understanding of the services and ultimately encourage account activation and utilization. Using TELUS Health’s comprehensive reporting, Walmart intends to closely monitor aggregated performance and utilization data, and solicit associate feedback for these services to help measure success and adjust as needed.
In sharing a philosophy for employee health and wellness, Walmart and TELUS Health can build out solutions for associates and their loved ones at every stage of their health journey. Because when associates are proactively managing their health, it can help them be happier and more productive both at home and work—and ultimately live better.