Here at Strawberry, we have always placed great emphasis on the mental health and wellbeing of our employees, and now we are going to raise our game even further! Find out about what we are doing to support Marius, who is returning to work despite his mental health challenges. And what we are doing to enable Johanna do great things as a hotel manager even though she is facing challenges as a new mother. Perhaps you'll get some new insights about mental health too?
The goal is for all our employees to feel good at work and be open about their mental health, while also being able to say they experience a good work-life balance. Happy employees, happy guests! (It doesn't rhyme quite as well as "happy wife, happy life", but you get the idea, right?)
”We don’t just want our employees to cope with everyday life – we want them to blossom.”
It sure sounds fantastic for companies to aspire to that, but it is by no means a given for people to feel 100% safe in their workplace, regardless of their particular situation. So, what is it that we do at Strawberry, to achieve a mental health score among our employees that is gradually increasing according to surveys conducted via the Peakon system? And why don’t we just sit back and pat ourselves on the back? Why are we still pushing for our employees’ mental health and wellbeing to keep improving?
Strawberry should be a great place to work, which is why we are increasing the focus on mental health and wellbeing among our employees.
We’re never going to settle for something that is “good enough”! With more than 18,000 employees, we will of course continue to build a solid foundation – brick by brick – of competence, openness, support, tools and knowledge regarding mental health. Our employees should not just “cope” with everyday life – they should blossom! Perhaps it’ll mean that our guests will experience this great energy at our hotels too? So, what is the secret to ensuring that 18,000 employees blossom all the year round?
Committed to a psychiatric hospital
First and foremost, we believe that “constructive openness” is key. Mental health and wellbeing can be many things, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. For people facing issues relating to anxiety, depression, burnout, loneliness, cultural differences or integration – some of our key themes – it is not like managers at Strawberry can just open a book and find the right solution for Maria, Ahmed, Daniel and Aisha. You have to communicate. You have to be open about your challenges and your wishes.
“I ended up being committed to a psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt.”
It all begins with openness – open communication always allows us to help even the most vulnerable. Marius Pedersen’s manager is a good example of this:
“The state of my mental health today is closely linked to my working conditions at Clarion Hotel® Trondheim](https://www.strawberry.no/hotels/norway/trondheim/clarion-hotel-trondheim/). My boss has supported me and given me opportunities along the way, even though I have faced a lot of mental health struggles and I’ve been given many chances. I ended up being committed to a a psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt. After a few days, when I could call someone, I contacted my mother and then my boss. The response I got meant everything – I was told to get well, find the help I needed and not give up, because I contributed so much at work. And I found out that I had a place to come back to when I was better,” says Marius, who came to realise that he did have something to lose.
Thanks to Marius being open about his challenges and getting good support from his manager, he is now back at work and in a good place mentally.
Marius explained how critical these words were for his motivation to come back to work. He was already a “wreck” as he puts it when he started working. Yet the fact that he always dared to be open about the challenges he faced meant that he was able to get the support and help he needed – both at work and privately, and not least after he was hospitalised. His main advice to people struggling is to open up to someone about what you’re going through, including one or more of your colleagues, and to admit that you need help.
“That’s precisely why we have a long-term plan and strategy to help our managers help others.”
Help to help is essential
The support Marius received from his manager at Clarion Hotel Trondheim is an example of how we want things to be “across the board”. That’s precisely why we have a long-term plan and strategy to help our managers help others. This includes a digital workshop for all managers at Strawberry, which focuses on how to support employees facing various challenges, how to recognise when someone is struggling, and how to ensure that your employees maintain good mental health and wellbeing.
We have several targeted plans of how we can make our employees smile and achieve a good work-life balance, even when they are faced with challenges, however big or small.
A good workplace is not just about good managers – it’s very much about your colleagues too. Therefore, in the longer term, we will also make a digital toolbox available to our employees with all the information you need about mental health and wellbeing at Strawberry, including what colleagues or managers can do to support employees who are struggling. We are also planning to hold regular seminars for our employees. With even greater openness and focus, we hope that the threshold to dare to open up will gradually be lowered. It should feel great to work here – simple as that.
“I’d still be good manager, just in a different way compared to before.”
Work, baby, balance
Talking about mental health at Strawberry is already easier now than it used to be according to Johanna Furenbäck, General Manager at Comfort Hotel® Grand Central:
”It has become much more normal to talk about things you’re struggling with than before, and I think the pandemic has taught us a great deal. Mental health was put on the agenda, and I see many examples at hotels within Strawberry where mental health is being talked about more. More and more hotels, including Comfort Hotel Grand Central, are collaborating with external partners to provide people with the support they need to stay in work,” Johanna says.
Johanna Furenbäck, General Manager at Comfort Hotel® Grand Central struggled to find a balance between work and her private life when she became a mother for the first time, and she is glad that she talked about it openly.
Johanna believes that it’s all about balancing the good things. She thinks you need to focus on all the good things in your life at the same time – work, hobbies, family and other things. She believes that her colleagues helped her find a good balance when she returned to work after her first maternity leave.
“When I came back from maternity leave, I was suddenly no longer able to just focus on work, so I spoke openly to my colleagues about having to prioritse differently. I’d still be good manager, just in a different way compared to before. And I was able to vent about how tough motherhood was to other colleagues with young children. It all feels so much better when you open up and talk to each other,” Johanna concludes.
Openness is important to get the help and support you need – but the response and encouragement from managers and colleagues is just as important.
Collaboration with The Human Aspect
We work together with our partner The Human Aspect, in order to help us focus on mental health and wellbeing. The Human Aspect provides a lot of good insights through a series of interviews conducted with all sorts of people who have faced various challenges – be it anxiety, depression, loneliness, cultural differences or general life challenges.
On their website, you can listen to interviews with people who may be facing similar challenges as you, and you can find out how they got through it. Well worth a look, we say!
P.S. There are several jobs available for you to explore if you like the idea of working at a company where mental health is high up on the agenda!