Regence leads panel of business leaders on how to support employee mental health

By Regence
April 26, 2023
PSBJ event 2023

Main image (L-R): Raghu Gollamudi of Included; Claire Verity of Regence BlueShield; Loria Yeadon of YMCA of Greater Seattle; Sandra Preyale of Aegis Living; and Don Baker of the Puget Sound Business Journal

The workforce in the Puget Sound Region has undergone seismic changes over the last few years, with many employees working remotely, workers experiencing burnout from the pandemic or other stresses, and businesses increasing their emphasis on the mental health of their employees.

Employers are grappling with how to adapt and thrive amid the changes. Regence BlueShield partnered with the Puget Sound Business Journal to host a Thought Leader Roundtable of local business leaders to discuss how they’ve managed their organizations through the upheaval of the pandemic by prioritizing employee wellbeing.   

Joining the roundtable, moderated by Puget Sound Business Journal Publisher Don Baker, were Raghu Gollamudi, co-founder and CEO of Included; Sandra Preyale, president of Aegis Living; Claire Verity, market president of Regence BlueShield; and Loria Yeadon, president and CEO of YMCA of Greater Seattle.

“The pandemic has been challenging on many levels but has also pushed us (at the YMCA) to transform for the better,” Yeadon said. “The rigidity is gone, out of necessity, and flexibility is part of our culture. We challenge our own processes and roles. We ask ourselves: Why is it here? Who is it serving? How are we advancing our mission? And then we give ourselves permission to make changes where it makes sense for our mission and our community.”

Behavioral health is paramount, and employees need to be able to talk through their struggles, leaders said.

“At the end of the day, when you think about people’s mental health, it’s how you feel and your physical being. Having a safe place where you can talk about how you feel,” Verity said. “At Regence, we’ve been working extremely hard on that piece of it because people need to be able to express their mental health challenges.”

Not every employee needs the same experience, so it’s important to offer different approaches to employee engagement, Gollamudi said.

“Because (my company is) focusing on diversity, we are getting people from different backgrounds, and communication styles really matter. Because something that might not be that important for you might be super important for someone else,” he said. “Every meeting at my company, the session starts with, ‘How are you?’ So now suddenly, everybody feels that they are accountable. And they are listening.”

Leaders at Aegis Living meet regularly with employees at each of the company’s 36 locations to ask them key questions, Preyale said, because needs evolve over time.

“Are the things you have in place working today? How do you like to communicate? When do you like to communicate? What progress have we made?” she said. “We must allow the team to zoom out and not take for granted how we work, because what worked six months ago may no longer work today. We must continue to evolve with the changing needs of our team.”

You can read the full Thought Leader Roundtable online, or learn about how Regence provides health plan members with behavioral health resources and support

Join us May 25 for more discussion about workplace mental health

The important conversation will continue May 25 with another event sponsored by Regence, partnering with the Puget Sound Business Journal, called Solutions for Workplace Wellbeing and Mental Health. Go here to learn more and register for the lunch event at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Seattle.