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Bringing mental wellbeing to the forefront


Today more than ever you cannot have personal, let alone collective growth without a healthy workforce. With more than 11.000 colleagues shaping Umicore’s next exciting growth chapter as the circular materials technology company, their energy is vital to our success. We are committed to a culture of care for our colleagues and thus continuously invest in their mental wellbeing, an unneglectable part of everybody’s wellbeing. In addition to many mental wellbeing initiatives, Umicore has launched a global online course in the learning plan of all managers aiming to create more awareness and improve knowledge on how we can contribute to each other’s mental wellbeing.

The Umicore Mental Wellbeing Model

"Together with consultant 'Better Minds at Work' we developed a scientific and evidence-based model indicating which organizational aspects such as autonomy in the job, feeling appreciated, your authority versus your competence, digital hygiene – have an impact on mental wellbeing."

Bert Swennen, Group Director Health & Wellbeing

According to Bert the primary aim is to raise awareness among our managers so that they can create the optimal circumstances to maintain and improve the mental wellbeing of their teams, identify early stress signals and know which steps to take to prevent burnout from colleagues. To this end, a course was developed and piloted with Umicore’s entire Management Board through a workshop, showing just how important a topic it is for our leadership. As a result, the workshop is being further rolled out together with an e-learning course to all managers and recommended worldwide to all colleagues.

‘At Umicore, we already have a long history of local and regional initiatives focusing on the individual aspect of wellbeing. Think about healthy food, sport, relaxation. Locally, employees can join based on their personal needs and interests. Still, as an organization we have a role to play to maintain if not improve the mental wellbeing of our employees. With this newly developed practical workshop and an e-learning we wanted to focus more on the organizational aspect of wellbeing globally, without losing sight of the responsibility of the individual’, says Bert.

Safeguarding mental wellbeing

In the workshop and e-learning we have three key take-aways that we want our managers to understand:  “Firstly, the importance of mental wellbeing and how it plays a big role in our state of mind, the relationship with others and in our own personal development.

For example, it is important to create a culture of trust , where colleagues can speak up and feel accepted and respected when they take risks but also when they make mistakes. Here, leaders play  an important role in fostering psychological safety”. 

Another important aspect is employee engagement. “We want our colleagues managers to understand what company policies and initiatives influences and impact the mental wellbeing of their teams. This is achieved through sharing and engaging with colleagues. The e-learning includes insights and exercises on how to increase the engagement of team members on the topic of mental wellbeing."

Last but not least it’s important that everyone knows what to do to maintain a positive mental wellbeing environment. “It’s about detecting early symptoms and taking action to prevent it from getting worse and improve the situation. For example, being aware of changes in emotions, behavior and physical changes are  important  signs. It is equally important to  know what gives you energy and what takes it away from you.  I also hope the e-learning will encourage open conversations and dialogue about mental health among colleagues but also among friends and family. We can all help each other and learn from each other as our wellbeing is our most valuable asset.”