The Dow Chemical Company
Dow combines science and technology knowledge to develop premier materials science solutions that are essential to human progress. Dow’s market-driven, industry-leading portfolio of advanced materials, industrial intermediates and plastics businesses deliver a broad range of differentiated technology-based products and solutions for customers in high-growth markets such as packaging, infrastructure, and consumer care. Dow employs approximately 37,000 manufacturing, research and development (R & D), commercial and support employees serving customers in more than 150 countries.
As a company that aspires to be the most innovative, customer-centric, inclusive and sustainable Materials Science company in the world, the mental and emotional well-being of employees is critical to Dow’s success. This is because a work environment that enables employees to bring their best and whole self to work increases Dow’s ability to collaborate creatively, work safely and act efficiently.
Dow treats mental health as one dimension of total health and creates a support structure for mental health, in parallel with creating support structures for the other dimensions of well-being (e.g., physical, intellectual, financial). Dow’s approach to supporting the mental health of employees is comprehensive; yet, it continues to evolve as the organization learns more about the evolving needs of its employees, including changes to work and life stressors. For example, technology and globalization have led to increasing fatigue among employees. Several decades ago, fatigue was a mental health challenge reported mostly by shiftworkers. However, today fatigue is an issue Dow observes across its whole workforce. In response to this need, Dow now provides support to all employees to address fatigue.
Further, Dow has moved beyond singularly addressing “stress management” to addressing “total health.” While Dow offers specific stress and resilience training, programs and communications, Dow, more importantly, focuses on providing broader “total health” support to address the underlying causes of stress. Total worker health strategies involve recognition, communication, health services, employee resource groups, mentoring, flexible work, and safe, appealing work environments. For example, Dow works actively with crossfunctional teams to identify and address workplace stressors and reduce their impact on safety, employee satisfaction and company performance. At Dow, stress is not viewed or discussed as a personal weakness; it is readily accepted as a business imperative to help employees manage.
Dow’s approach to address mental health involves being aware and inclusive of employee differences and taking understanding of those differences into consideration in the design and implementation of company policies and practices. For example, offering of program like Dow’s employee assistance program (EAP) is no longer a perk limited to some locations. Today, Dow’s EAP is available to every employee and his or her dependents, globally. Globally, EAP utilization averages about 5 percent, which is consistent with market average. The design of global health programming has also changed. Twenty-five years ago, for example, Dow operated health promotion programs designed for the general U.S. workforce. Today, Dow creates and delivers its own health programming through a global lens. Dow’s health promotion programming aims to address all dimensions of well-being and aims to customize its programming to its various employee subgroups. For example, Dow translates its health promotion programming into more than 10 languages.
Specifically, for mental health, Dow has offered mental health-related support for employees for more than 30 years.
- A global healthy culture index, with an annual assessment and site-based action planning
- Diversity and Inclusion strategy and Chief Inclusion Officer
- Mental health parity in U.S. health care benefits
- Various leave options for stages of life or personal needs, in addition to traditional holiday and vacation programs
- Global substance use policy
- Active leadership and funding to help communities where we operate flourish
- Stress/resiliency and depression leader training
- Energy management and purpose programs
In addition, since 2014, 5,000 employees participated in Dow’s team-based stressor assessment and improvement program. Employees who have participated in this program report improvements in the workplace culture, regarding support for mental health and emotional well-being. In another example, users of a purpose app saw statistically significant improvements in outcomes such as presence, creativity, energy, willpower and personal, family and community alignment.
Dow regularly assesses the mental health needs of employees and evaluates the effectiveness of its approach to support employee mental health. For example, Dow’s annual employee health exam and employee survey includes questions about stress and mental illness. Asking about these areas of health demonstrates to employees that Dow values mental health as much as it values the other dimensions of well-being. Results from these assessments indicate, consistently, 80% of employees do not perceive that workrelated stress affects their ability to do job well. In addition, only 20% of employees feel they do not have energy for family, friends and activities at the end of a workday. Where available, we also monitor prevalence and direct health care costs associated with mental disorders. In general, our covered populations are at or below peer levels.
We are currently in the process of updating our mental health and emotional well-being approach (as part of our overall corporate well-being strategy) and increasing our efforts to reduce stigma related to mental health. Going forward, we will extend our efforts to create an amazing employee experience, to go beyond just removing stressors and toward a work experience where Dow people thrive.
Chief Executive Officer
The Dow Chemical Company