Headway Spotlight: Harlequin and HarperCollins Canada

Why Harlequin and HarperCollins Canada is Focusing on Authenticity, Compassion and Conversations to Create a Mentally Healthier Workplace.

An interview with Craig Swinwood, Chief Executive Officer, and Christine Greco, Vice-President People, at Harlequin and HarperCollins Canada.

In a world marked by increasing mental health concerns, organizations are adopting innovative approaches to address the well-being of their employees.

One company that has embraced this challenge wholeheartedly is Harlequin and HarperCollins Canada. We had the pleasure of connecting with Craig Swinwood, CEO, and Christine Greco, Vice President People at Harlequin Harper Collins Canada to discuss their organization’s commitment to mental health, and why it requires an ongoing, cultural shift versus a one-off initiative. We discussed motivating factors, strategies, challenges, and key takeaways that are shaping their impactful work in the realm of mental health in the hopes of inspiring others to take bold action as well.

The Motivation to Begin

Harlequin and Harper Collins Canada’s journey to prioritizing mental health was sparked by a combination of personal experiences and shifting workplace dynamics. For Craig, his personal encounters with mental health challenges within his family and work life drove home the importance of the issue. With the rise in leaves and a few disability claims related to mental health, was a trigger signaling the need for vigilance and change. Like many companies, the onset of the pandemic further accelerated their commitment to the cause, amplifying the urgency to address mental health in their workplace.

Authenticity and Leadership Buy-In

A core pillar of Harlequin and Harper Collins Canada’s approach is authenticity. The leadership team, led by Craig and supported by Christine, recognized that mental health initiatives should be rooted in genuine care, not just as a checkbox on the corporate agenda. They engaged experts for in-depth awareness training and openly shared personal stories about mental health to spark authentic conversations and promote understanding. This approach effectively challenged stigma and paved the way for a more empathetic and supportive work environment.

Nurturing a Culture of Compassion

Harlequin and HarperCollins Canada recognized the significance of inclusivity and representation in addressing mental health concerns. By sharing stories with their teams that reflect diverse experiences, it helped foster a sense of empathy and understanding for employees. Their dedication to creating a safe space for dialogue and vulnerability laid the foundation for open conversations.

Mental Health Ambassadors to Drive the Initiative

These conversations helped drive further impact through the implementation of Mental Health Ambassadors. These ambassadors included team members from all three of their global offices, which ensured discussions were relevant and resonated across diverse cultures and experiences. Mental Health Ambassadors are passionate about providing safe spaces for colleagues to share as needed and have created forums where they share their own stories and experiences. By creating this culture of sharing, the ambassadors have enabled open and vulnerable conversations.

Enculturating Mental Health Support

The journey to enculturate mental health support is ongoing, and Harlequin and HarperCollins Canada acknowledges that challenges persist. They are working to integrate mental health conversations seamlessly into daily interactions, making it a natural and essential part of the work environment. Through continued training, supportive programs, and manager involvement, they aim to create a workplace where mental health and well-being is a standard topic of discussion.

While there were many learnings from our discussion, two lessons emerged as key in creating change:

1. Authenticity is Essential: Employees can discern between genuine care and performative gestures. Authenticity in addressing mental health fosters trust and engagement, encouraging employees to participate wholeheartedly.

2. Cultural Change Takes Time: The transformation of workplace culture to include mental health as a core value requires ongoing dedication. Patience and a long-term commitment are necessary to establish meaningful change.

Harlequin and HarperCollins Canada’s dedication to prioritizing mental health demonstrates the profound impact that an organization can have when it aligns its values with actionable strategies. Their journey, marked by authentic conversations, inclusivity, and a relentless commitment to change, serves as an inspiring example for other companies looking to revolutionize their approach to mental health support. By fostering a workplace where mental health is not merely an initiative but an integral part of the culture, Harlequin and HarperCollins Canada is driving change that transcends corporate boundaries and positively impacts the lives of their employees.

Designed to inspire action, our Headway Program helps business leaders take the next step toward creating mentally healthy workplaces. To learn more, visit https://www.sklarwilton.com/headway or email us at [email protected]

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