Dow’s holistic approach to employee wellbeing: ‘It’s okay not to be okay’

An ongoing workplace shift is emphasising proactive wellbeing strategies as crucial for building long-term workforce resilience, says Dow’s Curtis Baker.
By: | November 27, 2023

A recent poll conducted by HRM Asia revealed that employee total wellbeing is emerging as one of the top HR trends for 2024, with 28% of respondents indicating its significance. This aligns with the growing emphasis on mental health and holistic wellbeing in the workplace, a trend that gained significant momentum during the pandemic.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, the workplace narrative has undergone a significant transformation, generating more conversations around mental health and overall wellbeing, said Curtis Baker, Head of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity and Employee Experience Asia-Pacific, Dow.

“In Asia, we tend to separate or compartmentalise work life and private life, but the pandemic forces these two to coexist. The positive is it began to break barriers and taboos on speaking out and up on the overall wellbeing,” he told HRM Asia.

Baker emphasised that, despite the pandemic gradually fading into the rearview mirror, the challenges persist. Economic pressures, global conflicts, and a persistent atmosphere of uncertainty continue to cast a shadow, fostering an environment rife with fear and anxiety. Against this backdrop, he underscored that employee wellbeing is a deeply personal and ongoing journey.

What sets Baker’s perspective apart is his assertion that organisations adopting a proactive stance, and which are investing in a holistic approach to employee wellbeing, are making strategic decisions that resonate not just in the present but also cast a significant impact on the future of their workforce. At Dow, this approach is not a mere checklist item, but an integral part of a comprehensive strategy driven by an Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (ID&E) perspective.

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The success of this strategy lies in collaborative efforts. He pointed out that it is a joint endeavour involving people leaders and occupational health teams at Dow. Together, they strive to create an environment where employees feel empowered to acknowledge their struggles. This overarching goal is to culture a workplace ethos that embraces the idea that it is perfectly acceptable for employees to admit, “it’s okay not to be okay,” and where resources are readily available to support individuals through challenging times.  

“The simple fact is that healthier employees (mentally, physically, socially, and financially) are more productive and engaged employees. Thus the organisations thrives,” he concluded. “Organisations that choose to be proactive and invest in a holistic approach to the overall wellbeing lives of our employees are investing in both the present and future of their workforce.”