Schneider Electric encompasses mental health in wellbeing focus

Schneider Electric encompasses mental health in wellbeing focus

 October 05, 2021

Paula Aitkenhead began her career in her homeland, New Zealand, and then moved to France in 1992 with the intention of travelling Europe for 3 years. Almost 30 years later, Paula is still in France.

In 2003, Paula joined Schneider Electric and if you ask her “why Schneider?” she will simply respond “because I was attracted to the values of the company.”

Her roles within the organisation have been diverse and varied, including executive assistance, communication, industrial design support, company-wide project management, and today she is the Global HR Well-Being PMO. 

Passionate about the people agenda in Schneider Electric, Paula integrated the global Well-Being team at the time of its build phase in 2015.

She is also a Mum, a runner, and an avid showjumping competitor.

Paula graduated from l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle (ENSCI) in 2013. She holds a Specialised Masters degree in “Innovation by Design”, a diploma in Positive Psychology and Wellbeing, and she is a certified Mental Health First Aider.

Paula explains how mental health plays a key role in Schneider Electric's well-being strategy, and how the company is aiming to empower its #SEGreatPeople to invest in more inclusive and trust-based ways of working.


Receiving support from Schneider Electric leadership 

Paula starts with a personal anecdote where, after being formally diagnosed with depression, she spoke with her Schneider Electric manager. 

Althought it was what she describes as a "frightening conversation", her manager, a "true leader", was incredibly supportive and understanding and knew exactly what to say and what not to say. Paula's manager encouraged her to get back on track and find the right strategies, paving the way to good mental health.

Following this conversation, Paula started by focusing on a challenging personal goal and ran my first marathon. "A key enabler to bouncing back to a new me," she adds.

Well-being journey at Schneider

In 2015, Paula had the opportunity to join the team co-creating Schneider Electric’s well-being strategy and philosophy along with 130,000+ employees through a crowdsourcing campaign, taking a holistic approach and addressing well-being from a physical, mental, emotional, and social perspective.

Today, in addition to Schneider Electric's holistic approach to well-being, the company is paving the way to hardwire recovery and care into the organizational structure and accelerate the adoption of New Ways of Working, an initiative empowered by the Global Flexibility at Work Policy, an enabler to hybrid working and to managing employee lives.

Making mental health matter

Schneider Electric wellbeing strategy

2019 was the first year that Schneider Electric globally addressed Mental Health during the United Nations World Mental Health Day (Oct 10th) using the theme 'Mental Health in the Workplace'. "We smashed the stigma of mental ill-health, acknowledged that we all have mental health and that it’s ok to be not be ok," Paula explains.

In 2020 Schneider Electric addressed 'Mental Health for All', and in 2021 'Mental Health Matters'. "A way to acknowledge these are extraordinarily challenging and unique times that impact each of us differently. Recognizing that #OurMentalHealthMatters is key to achieve our ambition and fostering an inclusive company culture where everyone feels safe to be their unique self, even at the hardest moments like when we are distressed, anxious, or unable to cope," she adds.

"Leaving our “problems at home”, especially in a world of working from home is a thing of the past. We must acknowledge that everyone faces their own unique challenges throughout a lifetime. Those curveballs get thrown at us and bad stuff happens!"

Tackling the mental health agenda

Schneider Electric mental health

Schneider Electric tackles the mental health agenda using 3 key avenues:

  • Understand: We all have mental health, what drives our mental health?
  • Recognize: What are the signs of challenges in self and others. What biases accompany mental health, and recognize the fear of discrimination that accompanies those biases.
  • Act: As individuals, colleagues, managers, and leaders, to make a difference and take courageous steps to self-care (building resilience strategies) and support others. Asking “how are you feeling today” sincerely and non-judgmentally is becoming an embedded ritual at the beginning of all exchanges (meetings, town halls, global events).

Developing training and learning initiatives 

Schneider Electric has also developed internal training sessions to address these three key avenues “Spot the Signs of Mental Health Challenges”. The company also holds live talks with leaders addressing mental health; it invites external experts with whom it has partnered to openly discuss mental health and resilience strategies; and Schneider Electric is developing mandatory mental health e-learning for all employees worldwide, from shop floor to C-Suite, as well as nominating one well-being team member to be a dedicated full-time to mental health.

"Personally, I have built a bucket load of Well-Being and resilience strategies to help me through the tough times and enlighten the good. I am proud to be a Schneider Electric employee, and grateful every day for the opportunity this organization has given me over the past 18 years of my working career within," Paula concludes.

"And you? How are you feeling today? What’s right in your life right now? What are your strategies for good mental health?"


Work for a company that cares about your wellbeing 

Schneider Electric has created a culture that supports the well-being and mental health of its employees. 

If you want to work for a company that prioritizes and values its employees, search Schneider Electric's latest job vacancies.

 

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