Google tackling mental health among staff with ‘resilience training’

Google’s “Resilience” lead Lauren Whit set up a series of tutorials and video material for Google employees who experienced burns while working through the epidemic.


During the coronavirus epidemic, Google emphasized employee health, established long-term remote work plans and offered periodic days to “reset” days. Even this is not enough to deal with the mental stress caused by the virus.

“Kovid-19 is something we were not prepared to speculate on or obviously from a mental skills standpoint,” said Lauren Whitt, who is the Wellness Manager and Resilience Lead at Google. She has a big task, “helping Goglers fulfill the moment they are facing today.”

Google tackling mental health among staff
Google tackling mental health among staff

Whitt told CNBC in an interview that, looking for strategies to help Google’s more than 130,000 employees deal with the ongoing crisis, the company is leaning on “resilience training”, a phrase commonly used by professional athletes and The fighter is reserved for fighters.

The company said it has expanded existing programs and produced weekly short instructional videos from athletes, coaches and psychologists, which employees are watching with greater frequency.

Alphabet’s chief financial officer, Ruth Porat, who conducted early response efforts to the crisis, said last week that the company had rebound after a drop in employee productivity. His main concern today is with his mental well-being due to both isolation and the intensity of recent events.

“One of the things we are very concerned about is welfare measures,” said Porat at a New York Times dealbook conference. “What are the things we can do that help reduce the stress of working during an epidemic?”

For investors, Alphabet continues to perform. The stock is trading up 32% this year, compared with a 12% gain by the S&P 500. But the company’s outspoken employee base has not remained silent about the conflicts surrounding it, especially at a time when they do not have access to their usual campus facilities.

Google vs S&P 500 this year

Soon after the Kovid-19 outbreak, the nation faced another crisis following the police assassination of George Floyd in Minnesota, which was captured on tape and led to nationwide protests. The incident forced tech companies, including Google, to react with their issues surrounding diversity and treatment of minorities.

“Summer created a lot of discussion around social unrest and racial justice,” Whitt said. “This is very real and a very prevalent part of our 2020 conversation.”

She said that with the res of all support groups and staff, “more than anything, we are encouraging gogglers to interact and be authentic with who and what they are feeling.”

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As discussions became more heated, Google began to ask employees to play a more active role in operating internal message boards.

In a blog post in September, Google’s internal moderation team stated, “The tension continues for our Black + community with Black Lives Matter, and for our Asian Googlers with Coronavirus and China / Hong Kong.” “All of this is complicated by the added stress of working from home, social isolation and caring responsibilities – to name a few.”

Meanwhile, Google made it clear that there would be no return to normalcy soon.

In July, Google became the first major company to announce that it would offer employees the option to work from home through mid-2021, an extension of its former time. Shortly thereafter, it began offering reset days, so that employees could periodically unplug.

“In July and August, we realized that this is not going away and we are really looking at ways to set up new routines, how we change or work in alternative environments and focus on new skills and habits and routines Has started doing., “Whit said.

Small habits

The company’s resilience team, which had existing programs such as mentoring and employee re groups, wanted to do more for mental well-being. But it faced a challenge. Employees were already stuck in front of their screens for several hours, and were now being offered additional videos to watch.

Whit’s group decided on a series of digital clips called “Meet the Moment”. Each video is five or six minutes long and focuses on a specific topic such as sleep, breathing, upbringing and anxiety avoidance. Whit said she worked with professional football, basketball and baseball league experts and performance coaches and worked with collegiate and Olympic athletes to create flexibility training and skill development materials.

“Video content around breathing and sleeping are the most meaningful ways we can relax and recover momentary detachment during work throughout the day,” Whit said. He added that another popular video was “a time of uncertainty met with authenticity and humility”.

The main characters in the flexibility training video are people who have experienced high-stress situations such as big games, combat or other pressures.

“Flexibility is a skill called for employees in their digital flexibility directives that can be created, practiced and promoted.”

Alphabet Inc.

Alphabet Inc. CEO Sundar Pichai made the gesture while speaking during a discussion on artificial intelligence at the Bruegel European Economic Think Tank in Brussels, Belgium, on Monday, January 20, 2020. Pichai urged the US and the European Union to coordinate. Regulatory approaches on artificial intelligence point to their alignment as important.

In less than a month, 30,000 Google employees have watched videos. Whitt said the company has hosted 150 virtual events globally to raise awareness of mental health and “prioritize well-being”. Contractors and temporary employees, who make up about half of Google’s overall workforce, cannot use all but some of the Kovid-19 mental health and wellness res, the company said.

To create a video that conformed to Kovid-19 precautions, Whit said that Google used robotic cameras developed by a third party. Filming took place at Google’s offices in Atlanta and Boulder, Colorado, while the director and audio visual team were nearly connected.

As a part of employee training, the company also expanded some existing activities, a brief for ideas, energy and attention created just before the epidemic called “TEA check-in”. They are meant to address common symptoms of burnout, and managers are encouraged to say, “Let’s have some TEA,” a way for employees to be proactive.

“It gave people an opportunity to check, ‘Where are you in this moment?” “Are you distracted? Do you need a nap? Push-ups?”

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Google developed a differentiation between parents and caregivers with the aim of addressing mental health needs. The video content includes tutorials on how to focus on things like time management and housework when people are distracted.

The additional challenge of parents is to “transition to having children at home with a day job, navigating what it’s like to be physically away from the people you care for,” Whitt said. The company also offered suggestions on “how to create a productive workspace in the kitchen”.

To keep things light and fun where possible, the company began offering virtual classes on dance, cooking and a virtual “yoga with your dog” event. The video features several trainers and consultants who taught onsite at Google’s offices.

The staff has also produced virtual orchestras and comedy shows.

“We wanted to continue connecting employees to activities, art and music – it was all part of our culture when they were in the office,” Bit said.


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