5 ways Adobe prioritizes employee mental health and wellbeing

Mental health has been a top pillar of our employee well-being strategy. Below are our programs that support the mental health of Adobe employees.

Spread the word: May is Mental Health Awareness month in the United States

Image source: Adobe Stock / Benjavisa Ruangvaree.

Spread the word: May is Mental Health Awareness month in the United States, and it comes at a particularly difficult time for Americans and people all around the world, many of whom are still struggling with the repercussions of a year-long pandemic.

Last year about 40 percent of adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, up from just 10 percent of adults who reported these symptoms in 2019, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study on the implications of COVID-19 on Americans’ mental health. The study also found that the pandemic created more barriers for people who were already struggling with mental illness prior to COVID-19.

“Companies need to understand that people are not just struggling with COVID — but with the layers of change, the blurring lines of work and life, and having to manage their own wellbeing alongside taking care of their families day-to-day,” says Mary Kay Gilhooly, director of global wellbeing at Adobe. “And those pressures are leading to burnout. We’re depleting our resilience gas tank, and even as we pick back up and bring people into the office eventually, we’re asking our employees to change again, and to flex different muscles again. We need to be supportive and help them cope in this sea of change.”

At Adobe, mental health has been a top pillar of our overall employee wellbeing strategy, and it became especially front and center last year, partly due to COVID-19, but also due to the systemic racism we witnessed last summer. Below, we look at some of the programs we have in place to support the mental health of our employee base.

1. Employee Assistance Program

Although our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) has been around since before COVID-19, it’s a great example of some of the ways we are committed to employee wellbeing.

Adobe employees get access to confidential emotional support through free short-term counseling with local experts who can help with emotional concerns, including anxiety, depression, stress, grief, loss, life adjustments, or relationship and partner conflicts. Employees can use up to 10 free sessions each calendar year, either in person or virtually. Additionally, wellness tools and coaching are available to help employees make positive lifestyle changes in the areas of weight loss and tobacco cessation.

This past January we launched a new EAP for our U.S. employee base. Employees can now easily book therapy sessions with a licensed mental health professional, get instant support by calling a crisis support line, and receive personalized care recommendations and guidance for managing stress, increasing focus, and more. The EAP also offers employees interactive online tools and unlimited access to a collection of articles, videos, and other curated content on subjects such as health and wellness, family and relationships, work and education, as well as local resources.

2. Wellbeing apps

Research shows that meditation can improve depression and help reduce negative thoughts. Dedicating a few minutes per day to meditation can help people be more resilient to life’s stressors. That’s why last year we made the Headspace meditation app available to employees.

Headspace is a personal trainer for the mind. It gives users access to short, guided meditation sessions — delivered straight to a mobile phone or browser — that help with managing stress, sleeping better, finding focus, boosting creativity and achieving more balance in life. It is meditation made easy — and it is free to Adobe employees. We have recently expanded this popular benefit so employees can invite a family or household member to join them in experiencing the benefits of meditation.

LifeDojo is a wellbeing app also available to all Adobe employees, which allows users to design their own behavior-change program with the support of a personal health coach and interesting articles and videos at their fingertips. Employees can choose from a variety of habits relating to fitness, healthy eating, reducing stress or building resilience.

“When you feel well, you do well — both professionally and personally,” Gilhooly says.

3. Healing through employee storytelling

Employee storytelling at Adobe has always proven to be a powerful way to build empathy and inclusion. When employees share their life experiences in an honest and vulnerable way, other employees gain a greater appreciation and empathy for people different from them. That is why every year we showcase compelling and fascinating stories from our diverse employees at our annual internal Adobe For All event in September — and last year was no different.

We have also been bolstering education for all employees to raise awareness of issues on race, inclusion and belonging, and creating a platform for both the Black and Asian/Pacific Islander experience to be heard. We launched two new series, one called “Coffee Break,” and another called “Common Grounds,” which give employees a platform to talk about their personal life at work. We have had programming that spotlights employees from disrupted socioeconomic backgrounds, those who have immigrated from another country or an underrepresented racial or ethnic group and how that has influenced their life, and more. More recently, we focused sessions on both the Black community as well as our Asian American and Pacific Islander coworkers to give Adobe employees a platform to share their experiences in an interactive way.

“We know that employee wellbeing is inextricably linked to diversity and inclusion,” Gihooly says. “And there’s really something special with employee storytelling. There’s something about hearing the first-hand experience of another human being that is eye-opening for the listener. Understanding what it has been like for a person, or group of people, can help build allyship, which is essential to wellbeing at work.”

4. Building a wellbeing community

Adobe offers virtual group exercise classes, with both live and recorded offerings focusing on yoga, upper body strength, dance, cardiovascular exercises, mindset and meditation.

Through our wellness community on Slack (we have multiple dedicated channels) participants get access to monthly newsletters, workout videos, and special wellbeing events. Our “Wellbeing Matters” speaker series brings in experts regularly to discuss wellbeing topics like effectively managing anxiety and stress, reclaiming your attention from digital distraction and preventing burnout. Similarly, our quarterly “Tune In, Take Care” show features guest speakers and employee stories to show people they are not alone, plus tips, tricks, and resources to help employees feel their best.

5. Avoiding burnout with COVID Global Days Off

When COVID-19 hit, Adobe made a commitment to first and foremost protect the health and wellbeing of our employees. Regular employee pulse surveys uncovered that people were fatigued and not taking the time off they needed, so we implemented regular company-wide days off during the pandemic, providing employees with much-needed time off to unplug and recharge.

“While we have offered unlimited paid time off for exempt employees for a number of years now, there’s something about unplugging all at once that truly ensures that people disconnect and focus on themselves,” Gilhooly says. “Because when employees don’t have time to rest or concentrate on themselves, their energy declines and their quality of work declines.”

Supporting mental health and wellbeing in May — and always

We want our employees to feel their best so that they can perform their best. That is why we offer them support to get and stay well. Caring for your mind can mean something different for every individual. For someone it might mean practicing daily habits that nurture emotional wellbeing, while others may need to talk to someone or access more immediate help. We are proud of the programs and perks we have in place to support the mental health of our employee base, and we will continue to innovate and reimagine our employee experience to ensure that our people are empowered to bring their best selves to work.