I am here: How Woolworths Group support their employees’ mental health

Thu 30 September 2021

Four people standing in uniform in a deli, smiling at the camera.

As part of our “Wellbeing in the workplace,” series, we are sharing how member organisations are supporting their employees’ mental health throughout the pandemic, R U OK day and beyond. Today, we’re sharing how Woolworths Group is supporting their employees’ mental through their program ‘I am here.’

For the Woolworths Group, supporting employee’s mental health has been front-of-mind for several years.

“Mental health is a topic on everyone’s lips,” says Rachel Mead, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Woolworths Group. “Particularly after the disruption due to COVID-19 in the past 15 months.”

Woolworths Group recognised the importance of supporting employee’s mental health prior to the pandemic, so the organisation built out a mental health support system.

“Mental health has been Woolworths Groups number one risk priority for a few years now and with it we wanted to introduce learning that would help our team members to support others, and themselves.”

And so, ‘I am here’ was implemented. While ‘I am here,’ is an external program, Group Wellbeing Coordinator of Woolworths Group, Alastair Taylor, worked closely with the ‘I am here,’ team to design their version of a program that tailored specifically to Woolworths Group employees, experiences and language.

Woolworths Group identified the ‘I am here,’ program as right for their organisation for two main reasons:

  • The simplicity of the notion – that it is okay to not be okay, and absolutely okay to ask for help.
  • The change in mindset – the program is centered on emotion and breaking down the stigma to ask for help.

‘I am here’ is an online support network offering various types of e-learning courses, to educate and empower employees at all levels across the organisations for support with mental health.  

“It gives the participants the courage and confidence to ask someone if they’re OK, and the confidence to know where to signpost to help and support.

“It’s built on the belief that it’s ok to not feel ok and absolutely ok to ask for help. Its more than a tool – it comprises a community of people who want to make a difference,” says Rachel.

‘I am here’ is a resounding success, with over 38,000 team members at Woolworths Group completing the Tribe members course.

For Rachel, supporting mental health is priority.

“Without organisations supporting mental health of team members, absenteeism, presenteeism and motivation to work can be adversely affected.”

For Woolworths Group ‘I am here,’ is more than just a e-learns and training – it’s a program that provides the tools, knowledge and resources for employees that can positively shape their culture. It’s a program that builds a sense of community among the staff, where employees are able to feel part of a movement that priortises and values mental health.

For organisations looking to create a similar culture, or even begin their journey of supporting mental health, Rachel has a few tips.

Look at making sure that team members know where to signpost to help, and that holistic wellbeing is at the forefront of your mind. A question I often ask myself is, what support would a family member of mine need if they were in need of support.

Need support?
If you, or anyone you know, needs support you can:

If you our someone you know needs urgent support, contact lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.

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