Mental Health Awareness Month
Employee Mental Health

How Traeger Prioritizes Their Employee Mental Health

May 8, 2024

As part of Tava Health’s Employee Mental Health initiative for Mental Health Awareness Month, we interviewed individuals building exceptional mental health benefits for employees.

In this interview with Kortni Hobson, the managing benefits leader at Traeger, she discusses her process for cultivating a happy and healthy work environment, and how she’s built Traeger’s program over the last 7 years.

Mental Health Awareness Month takes place every May, and this year, Tava Health focuses on “Employee Mental Health.” As part of our campaign, we’re taking the entire month to highlight different HR and benefits leaders who are making huge impacts on the mental health of their employees. You can read all the stories here.

How does your company actively promote mental health awareness and destigmatization in the workplace?

As the person who handles benefits, I feel that any stigmas or hang-ups around mental health, would come through & impact the way I talk about it. The way our leadership also supports this benefit, & makes it part of our culture here, is huge!! Our culture promotes overall well-being so it’s part of who we are, rather than a thing here or there. When I refer employees to Tava, I feel like I’m able to offer a meaningful resource. It doesn’t solve all their problems, but it’s such a big thing to be able to offer some direction to turn to & support.

When I know someone is going through a big life-changing event, like becoming a parent or needing FMLA, I remind them about Tava and the 12 free sessions they and their partner each get. It impacts both parents! I also work with our Tava representative to spread the word. Tava sends out postcards—not everyone remembers to tell their family, but a postcard on the counter becomes a conversation starter. Text messages are sent out strategically throughout the year, in May and October, to remind employees of the benefits and the availability of 12 free sessions. We also printed off Tava’s Mental Health Awareness May calendar and distributed it on our employees' desks.

Besides Tava Health, what other specific initiatives or programs has your HR department implemented to support employees' mental well-being?

We continue to offer yoga at the office 2 times a month. For the month of May we had a speaker come talk about practical ways to be resilient to stress. We also have stress reducing tips on each table in our eating area, along with coloring pages to de-stress during the day. We’ve had a speaker from Tava come & do a lunch & learn session before. We offer different activities & opportunities for employees to get to know each other better & find mutual support. We have done book clubs and discussion groups, pot planting, along with lots of outdoor activities & different interest groups.

"I love Tava." - Kortni Hobson, HR & Payroll Specialist at Traeger Pellet Grills, LLC

How do you ensure that managers and employees have access to resources and support for mental health concerns?

I strive to make sure the managers know about the Tava benefit & can let their teams know. It depends on the specific situation, if I know of an upcoming situation or challenge, I’ll pass along the information or a reminder of Tava. Some other ways that we try to keep it in mind are to keep a flyer hanging in break rooms & leveraging flyers or postcards. This way we can get the word out about Tava without being too direct, more of a constant reminder. My goal is to make sure everyone is aware and getting the help they need without alienating anyone.

In what ways does your organization accommodate employees' mental health needs, such as flexible work arrangements or counseling services?

We do offer hybrid & flexible work. We encourage people to come to the office Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday by having more in-person meetings & having lunch together! Occasionally, during big meetings, we’ve changed it up and tried “wedding seating” so people could sit with new co-workers and get to know each other more. Our building also has individual office rooms for quiet space while working, and we have an upstairs deck outside for meaningful breaks. Everyone works from home on Thursday and Friday, but again, we try to be flexible to support our employees if they need arrangements.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your mental health initiatives and ensure they are meeting the needs of your diverse workforce?

Tava’s utilization rates have been great! I share that with leadership, so they know how much employees use & appreciate the benefit! We’ve been offering 12 free sessions to our employees, and it’s been great! I also rely on word of mouth as employees will come up to me and tell me what they think about their benefits, including Tava. It’s great when someone comes up to me and says, “My Tava therapist was so awesome!” The feedback I’ve heard shows us that it’s a meaningful benefit. We also send out different surveys to measure happiness at work, the effectiveness of 1x1 meetings, and other aspects of work. These responses help to inform changes to benefits, procedures, and the overall work experience.

What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to prioritize mental health within their own organizations?

Implement Tava! I’ve worked in HR for so long and have never seen typical EAPs get used like this. It has been a huge resource for our employees! It’s easy to use, it’s free & who couldn’t benefit from therapy now & again?! It also feels good to be able to offer a resource when I know someone is struggling.

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