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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Sanofi Australia boosting employee mental health and wellbeing

Health Industry Hub | May 25, 2020 |

Pharma News: The COVID-19 crisis is affecting the Australian Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology and Medical Technology industries as they respond to the turbulent environment.

In an interview with Health Industry Hub, Michelle Zimany, HR Director Australia & New Zealand & JPAC HR Genzyme, reveals Sanofi’s award winning mental health program and the organisation’s focus on supporting employee wellbeing.

Health Industry Hub: Why is there a need to focus on employee mental health and wellbeing?

Michelle Zimany: The separation between an employee’s workplace and home life has become less clear. More organisations are expecting people to bring their full selves to work. That means being more open, vulnerable and sharing the challenges they are undertaking so they will be more connected and engaged as a result.

Sanofi supports our staff throughout different stages of life – whether it’s early in life with children and families or caring for ageing parents. We also have a high awareness of domestic violence as a White Ribbon accredited employer. It really opened our eyes to understanding just how much people are holding in and the role that we can play in ensuring they feel safe at work.

Health Industry Hub: How are employees more in need of support during COVID-19?

Michelle Zimany: The whole family environment has been turned on its head as a result of COVID-19. Whether an intact family or a vulnerable family in a domestic violence situation, they have all been impacted. When we look at mental health support, we extend it beyond the individual to their family and provide different strategies so that they can manage their own mental health and take a more proactive approach.

Health Industry Hub: How is Sanofi demonstrating leadership in this area by supporting employees?

Michelle Zimany: Sanofi’s Life Program equips employees with positive psychology and resilience to face and manage the challenges that life brings and understand their own stress triggers. The strategies include mindfulness, meditation, positive psychology frameworks and understanding the role of physical exercise in wellbeing. Sanofi’s award winning mental health and wellbeing program was launched 18 months ago and consists of five workshops. The first one is the foundational workshop where over half of our employees have completed. Beyond that each employee may select other workshops to take part in depending on where they may need more help.

Sanofi was the first pharmaceutical company in Australia to be a fully accredited organisation in Mental Health First Aid with gold membership. We have two practitioners within Sanofi who are now accredited to run this training and over 60 employees have completed the Mental Health First Aid training. Some staff wish to be trained so it can help them from a parenting or family perspective with no obligation to apply it in the workplace. Others want to do it because they want to help colleagues and be known as a mental health first aider in the workplace. Sanofi’s manufacturing team were the first to embrace this program. It has become such a success that we have a waiting list for the next time we run the training.

During COVID-19 we have been providing a diverse range of online support programs such as yoga and meditation to support employee wellbeing. We are ensuring that we are giving people across the organisation the opportunity to stay connected and ask questions.

Health Industry Hub: What will PAIG’s new mental health program training contribute to Sanofi?

Michelle Zimany: Sanofi is committed to Medicines Australia’s PAIG membership. We have a number of individuals participating in PAIG’s new mental health and wellbeing training program which was recently launched. This is an opportunity to expand our offering and support to our employees. Mental health and wellbeing is a key area of focus for Sanofi from a broader diversity and inclusion perspective.

Health Industry Hub: How can the recently launched Selfcare in Healthcare social media initiative provide mental health support to industry professionals during COVID-19?

Michelle Zimany: Any kind of mental health and wellbeing movement where you can reach into a group or a community to discuss how you start in this space is very helpful. If it wasn’t for us leaning into our industry groups or networks, our starting place would have been nowhere near as accelerated or as advanced as we are now. Sharing materials and foundational concepts will help organisations that may not have the internal resources to leverage what others have done and ultimately support their employees from a mental health and wellbeing perspective.

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