The New Frontier – Therapy in the Workplace
In June, I was lucky enough to be an invited speaker at the Wellbeing@Work 2017 conference in San Francisco, and wanted to share some thoughts about the event and a few excerpts from my talk. As you can imagine, I was pretty psyched, being able to present Kip to an audience of business professionals who already understood that wellbeing at work is a productivity issue that really matters to any company. Of course, what I hoped to show was how Kip, with its data-driven approach to effective therapy, can provide mental wellness support for high performing leaders and employees. But more than that, I wanted to bring the conversation about workplace mental health and therapy into the light, to demonstrate that talking about it is the first step to a healthier office environment.
I called my presentation “The New Frontier” and truly believe that is where we are–on the edge of a revolution in workplace therapy–where companies will routinely support employee mental wellness as an essential business benefit. Towards the end of the presentation I said this:
“Therapy right now is where gym memberships were in the 1980s and now gyms are in the workplace. Or where meditation and mindfulness were ten years ago, before apps like Headspace made them popular and companies started hosting mindfulness workshops and yoga at their companies.
In 5 years, you are going to see therapy offered to employees at every major employer across the country as a vital service to enhance productivity.
How do I know this? Because we’re seeing it already.”
I gave my audience the example of how companies like Johnson & Johnson and law firms in New York are promoting therapy in the workplace. Investors are also footing therapy bills for founders in their portfolio and many more have signed on to our Pledge for Founder Well-being.
Standing in front of the audience, I was literally speaking to the future that I was imagining. The list of companies attending the conference and listening to me included LinkedIn, Dollar Shave Club, Salesforce, Whole Foods, Yelp, Gap, and OneLogin. The engagement of these and other major companies is a real sign that awareness of the issue employee mental wellness is growing. This is how the organizers put it in their introduction to the event:
“The Wellbeing at Work Event aims to provide a forum for businesses to hear, meet and discuss wellbeing and employee healthcare initiatives with leading experts and practitioners to equip businesses with the tools to introduce or improve wellbeing programs in the workplace.”
The reason for this growing awareness of employee healthcare is directly related to the life and needs of the modern office employee. Our work life, thanks to technology, is no longer confined to office hours. It travels home with us as we answer texts and emails almost 24/7. Businesses know they need to respond to the strain this puts on high-performing workers. Talking about workplace and employee therapy in proactive ways is a sign of the things to come.
“Your employees are going to face challenges. They want to be challenged. Inevitably they will experience ups and downs, whether it’s a launch that’s delayed or a personal issue like a divorce, a recent relocation or a change in managers. Therapy teaches your employees skills that prepare them to weather those changes. It stress-proofs them. Think of it like buying an Otter case for your smartphone. Skills learned in therapy protect employees from stress and help them quickly and effectively recover when they’re down.
This will save you thousands of dollars and build incredible trust and loyalty. The big question to ask is will you and your company be active or passive — what message do you send to your employees? An active management team says, “We know what we ask you to do is stressful — if you feel you’re not working or living at your full potential, we offer therapy as a tool.” Remember, it costs a fortune to hire good employees — their brain is what you are hiring them for! Look after their brain health. Therapy is the scaffolding for a high performance work and life.”
The key reason this movement towards workplace therapy is growing in momentum is because it makes financial sense. The new frontier of the workplace will see companies who understand that their productivity (and profits) is directly linked to the physical AND mental wellbeing of their workforce.
“Therapy needs to be thought of as preventive care. We visit the dentist for teeth cleaning every six months. We go to the gym or eat well to keep healthy. The doctor gives us an annual check up. We take these for granted. But, if your employees are hired to used their brains, doesn’t it make as much sense to offer preventive care for mental wellness?”
At this point, I explained Kip how solves the problem of getting easy access to effective therapy.
“You probably imagine that cliché of Freudian therapy time spent on a couch, telling someone all of your childhood problems. That’s the old, outdated version of therapy. Six seasons on the HBO couch didn’t help Tony Soprano. New types of therapy like CBT — Cognitive Behavioral Therapy– have changed the game. Kip therapists all practice care that’s backed by science. That means that clinical tests have proved that using data is medically effective. You can see you’re getting better. Kip integrates the office visit with an app that tracks the user’s progress during the week. Kip therapists don’t delve into the past. They want to know what’s happening now and to find the best tools to treat stress and anxiety — it is not therapy that continues for year — it’s like a personal trainer at the gym — you take a block of 6 or 10 sessions, learn how to work on your core or use free weights — then you do it on your own.”
Results are the core of the Kip experience and that is how we imagine contributing to therapy in the workplace in the future, offering it as a standard office benefit. The new frontier for Kip is employees using therapy as a resource on a regular basis, a few times a year, to check that everything is running smoothly or for acute care to rebalance your brain during particularly stressful moments in your work or personal life. The Kip experience is designed to provide this type of therapy, adapted as a tool for the modern life of the employee in the modern office.
Thanks so much to the organizers for inviting me. It was great to meet so many speakers and guests who were on the same page, understanding that, while companies often do a great deal to care for physical health through benefits and gym memberships, it is only recently that mental health has become the focus of their attention.