Digital resources help Medtronic employees with stress management
COVID-19 has taken a toll on Linda Karaian.
Her suppressed auto-immune system forced her into self-isolation when the pandemic began raging in her home state of Massachusetts back in March. The Mansfield-based Medtronic employee was losing sleep and feeling stressed as she tried to care for her elderly parents. Then, tragically, COVID-19 claimed the life of her mother in early September, just ten weeks after the death of her father from an unrelated illness.
Linda needed help coping with her stress, and she says she found it in Whil — a digital well-being and mindfulness training program offered free to all Medtronic employees.
“You wouldn’t think an app would be able to assist with something like this, but I can honestly say this has helped me cope with the stress I’ve been going through,” says Linda, who began using Whil to help improve her sleep, reduce stress, meditate, and improve her overall health. “Whil has become a go-to for me. I use it all the time.”
FINDING BALANCE DURING TIMES OF UNREST
Through a smart phone app or website, Medtronic employees can browse hundreds of Whil sessions that range from one-minute mindfulness breaks to longer, science-based mini-courses — all designed to contribute to mental health and well-being. There are programs on a wide range of topics from building emotional intelligence to sleeping better and reducing stress and anxiety.
Prior to the pandemic, Medtronic offered a limited selection of Whil offerings. As the pandemic ramped up, though, that changed. From March through June, Whil launched a COVID-19 pandemic support program — offering free access to their full-suite of well-being resources to companies around the world, including Medtronic.
“Right away, we saw a three-fold increase in use of the Whil programs,” said Gen Barron, a Medtronic HR Program Manager. “We could see the need and the thirst for these types of tools and resources during the beginning of the pandemic, and it continues. People are really finding a benefit in using them. So now we’re excited to include that as part of our core offerings for employees around the globe.”
MINDFULNESS HELPS EMPLOYEES THRIVE
In addition to Whil, the Medtronic Employee Assistance Program (MEAP) plays a critical role in supporting employees’ mental and emotional well-being. MEAP provides employees and household family members free, confidential mental health counseling through a 24-hour phone line. It connects employees or their family members to licensed, professional counselors and psychologists who can help talk through the grief, challenges, and stress resulting from the pandemic or any other life situations.
As a mental health clinician and MEAP Program Manager, Amber Cardinal appreciates the value of tools like Whil to help employees thrive.
“We’re known for our high performance at this company,” said Cardinal. “It’s important for us to give employees the resources that they need to really take care of themselves so they can continue to contribute at that high level.”
MAKING SELF-CARE ACCESSIBLE, AND EASY
Elizabeth Esquivel appreciates the quick, one-minute Whil sessions.
As a clinical specialist, Esquivel spends her working hours going from one hospital to another in Mexico City to meet with patients and physicians. At times, she says she’s struggled to find balance between her work and her personal life. Then she came across Whil. She calls it practical and easy-to-follow, especially since English is not her first language.
“I wasn’t sleeping well, wasn’t always eating enough, and I was sometimes feeling anxious,” she said, adding that she uses the techniques she learned through Whil several times throughout her busy workday. “The Whil programs helped me put some order and balance in my life. It showed me that even if I’m waiting for a physician or waiting for a patient, I can use those times to help myself. And naturally, I started to organize my life and take better care of myself.”
When working with Medtronic employees, Cardinal often refers them to similar one-minute Whil practices as a short introduction to taking better care of themselves. She says that’s what she – and many employees – value most about the tools.
“Whil makes taking care of your mental health really easy,” she explains. “It’s not a huge commitment. There’s something for everybody at any stage or any skillset.”