Interview with Constanze Burda from Mister Spex

Challenge

“We wanted to add a benefit just for employees, because they’ve all experienced a lot of pressure and anxiety due to COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine.”

Solution

“OpenUp provides an outlet for employees to vent. Seeing these group dynamics and watching employees speak openly about their challenges is amazing.”

At OpenUp, we firmly believe that prevention pays off. The sooner you take care of your mental health, the more resilient you become: you are able to recover more quickly when faced with setbacks. Work plays an important role in this because the personal and professional always intersect: we take our personal challenges  to work with us, and vice versa. This makes it all the more important to create an environment where employees feel comfortable and are encouraged to speak openly about their concerns.

 

Companies like Mister Spex share the same mission: to make mental health accessible to all employees. Constanze Burda, Lead Corporate Responsibility at Mister Spex, explains the company’s challenges and gives us some insights into the partnership with OpenUp.

Why did you decide to partner with OpenUp?

 

For us, it was important to break down taboos. When you break your arm, you immediately go to the doctors. But when something’s wrong with your mental health, you might carry that around with you instead of doing something about it immediately. Many of us might feel that it’s not that important because we have to keep doing our jobs. We wanted to spread the message that mental health does matter  and motivate people to do something about it, instead of pushing it to one side. 

 

A major driving force for the partnership was creating a benefit that’s really just for the employees. We have a very diverse workforce with lots of international employees. This means it was really important to have language options from English and German to Polish.

 

For a while, we were still speaking with other providers. However, what finally convinced me was the story of Gijs Coppens, the founder of OpenUp. His passion for the topic is really cool.

“We wanted to make it clear that we know there are people carrying things around with them. People who are afraid to sort these things out because they’re prioritising work.” 

What challenges did you encounter when introducing OpenUp to staff?

 

Our workforce is very diverse and ranges from office workers to logistics staff. Since their needs and activities are so different, we couldn’t create a one-size-fits-all solution. We initially wanted to roll out OpenUp gradually and inform departments like marketing and HR that have more affinity with the topic of mental well-being. Following this, we wanted to offer OpenUp in departments that were under particular pressure during COVID, for example because of customers who didn’t want to wear masks or store closures caused by lockdowns.

However, due to the outbreak of war in Ukraine, we actually decided to offer OpenUp to everyone  right away. In this unprecedented situation, we wanted to give all colleagues the opportunity to get help – and at the same time. No matter how diverse our employees are , a war triggers our primal fears, regardless of where you’re from or what you do. So we decided that we needed to roll out OpenUp to all staff, quickly. 

 

How did you roll out OpenUp to the company, particularly in differing areas like logistics and the stores?

 

We talked about OpenUp in our team channels and then also brought it up in department meetings. For our logistics department, we created materials and notices – since they don’t work on computers, an email announcement would have been less effective. We also created video clips that are still available digitally to all employees. For the stores, we created  videos of two of our store employees who were willing to open up and talk about this issue. This was our way of making sure that we had ambassadors from different areas of the business.

 

However, in my experience, it’s better not to have just one big roll-out moment. You have to keep talking about it again and again. New starters arrive every month  and it can easily get forgotten. People only really get the message when you mention it over and over again.

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“I also tried out OpenUp for myself, primarily because I wanted to know what I’m offering to employees. But also because I had challenges  following my maternity leave, settling into my new role as a woman, mother and working person.”

What changes have you noticed since OpenUp was introduced to your organisation?

 

OpenUp is a total game changer! On introducing OpenUp in a departmental meeting, team members started speaking up about their challenges one after the other. I hadn’t expected that. This group dynamic was lovely and it was also eye-opening to see how many people struggle with their mental health. 

However, booking a consultation with a psychologist still feels like a big step for many people. Only once you’ve spoken to people, seen that they’re open to it and then recommend OpenUp, do they try it out. Once they’ve tried it out, they always return, sold by the idea and keen to do further sessions.d

 

What does mental health mean to you personally?

 

Mental health is emotional labour. It’s not something you ever stop doing. At no point can you say: I’ve finished looking after myself, I’m all good now. Taking care of your mental health is a lifelong task. Perhaps it changes over time or gets easier in certain areas, but the work never stops.

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