NEW YORK (Reuters) – When Hartmut Braune comes to work in security communications at SAP, he never knows what emergency will land in his inbox.
It is a challenging job, compounded by the fact that Braune also coordinates the company’s global Lighthouse Core Team, which provides peer assistance to struggling employees, as well as a shoulder to cry on.
“It’s the difficult part, but sometimes tears help clear the situation,” said Braune, who is based in Germany.
Many companies offer employee assistance programs, mindfulness apps or in-office counseling. But experts say a culture shift toward openness, from the C-suite on down, is most effective. That translates to peer counseling, colleagues sharing their experiences and open dialogue.
Companies take a myriad of approaches to this challenge. At SAP, considered a thought leader on employee mental health, the company calls its system the Employee Care Cycle. That starts with prevention and destigmatization, said Paul Torsten, SAP’s director digital health & well-being.
Indeed, Braune coached one woman who returned to work at SAP after a mental health leave, but had not been open with her manager and colleagues about why she took time off.
“People have a tendency to hide what was happening – they feel shame,” Braune said.