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Promoting Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace

Marketing Manager

For most of us, work isn't a place where we just clock in and out; it's a huge part of our lives where we spend 40+ hours per week, earn our income, and socialize. If you're lucky and have a fulfilling job with supportive colleagues, work can really benefit your overall well-being.

However, for those not so fortunate, work can cause dissatisfaction, which is why it's so important to talk about mental health in the professional environment. Although we've all witnessed a growing awareness of mental health issues, especially in the past few years, it can still be challenging for people to get the help they need, often fearing stigma or judgment from their colleagues.

Establishing a workplace culture where people feel comfortable being themselves can make it easier to discuss their concerns and reach out for help. This is where HR plays a crucial role.

The Role of HR in Workplace Wellbeing

What would we do without our dear HR? They’re the heartbeat of any company, working behind the scenes to ensure a healthy and supportive work environment. Through their expertise, effective communication strategies, and tools, they're encouraging you to thrive and become the best version of yourself.

Now, let's meet our HR team at COBE, which works seamlessly across our two office locations. At the helm of our Osijek office is Ivan, the Head of HR, who works together with Sara, our HR Specialist. In Munich, we have Dominik, our HR Manager, supported by HR Assistant Julia, and Merle, an HR working student. 

Today, we talked with Sara and Dominik about fostering well-being at work. Can you both introduce yourselves and share a few details about your roles and responsibilities? When did you start working at COBE?

Sara: I joined COBE three and a half years ago as an HR Assistant in my final year of psychology studies. Over the years, my responsibilities have grown, and so has my role. Today, my focus is on our culture, employee retention, education, and, generally, making employees' work lives easier while growing and maintaining productivity. For me, that's the best part — helping employees bring out the best in them. 

Dominik: I've been the HR Manager and Chief Happiness Officer for over six years, and like Sara, I also started my career as a student. After getting to know COBE a bit, I was thrilled to take over the HR department in our Munich office and implement all HR processes and strategies. My role now also includes handling various human-centered workflows, such as recruitment, negotiation, on- and offboarding, creating and maintaining HR strategies for salary models, and mentoring.

As someone who’s been a part of COBE for years, what would you say is the most important groundwork for a healthy organization? We've all seen some improvement in the way mental health is perceived today, but some research indicates that there's still a lot of stigma around it. What's your opinion on this, and do you believe prioritizing mental health in the workplace is crucial? 

Dominik: Well, this topic has been in my book for quite some time now. Recent surveys and articles showing an alarming increase in burnout and stress levels made it clear to us that we need to include topics like psychological safety in our daily business. That means ensuring a safe space where people can be themselves and speak their minds without fear of judgment. This groundwork is essential for improving the well-being of our team and is something that should be communicated by company representatives, like CEOs and team leads, to set an example. So, in my opinion, a psychologically safe environment is fundamental, and no mental health program can replace it.

Speaking of ensuring a safe space, can you tell me more about your role in providing a positive mental health atmosphere in the Osijek office, Sara? And what specific HR activities fall under it? 

Sara: My role is to form procedures that will allow employees to feel safe, avoid uncertainty, and know what is expected of them to grow and progress. Nurturing a feedback culture is definitely the most important part. Apart from regular tracking of everyone’s progress and satisfaction, each employee has monthly 1-on-1 sessions with their team lead, and every six months, we conduct the following:

  • Anonymous employee satisfaction survey
  • 360-degree feedback within project teams
  • Feedback conversation with HR and team lead
  • Follow-up process in which we handle unresolved issues (if there are any)

I believe that open communication and trust are the pillars of a great work environment. To achieve this, we start from the top management and extend the transparency to all levels. We also encourage everyone to be kind to each other and treat each other with respect. 

I couldn't agree with you more. When everyone knows what's happening within the team, it makes things less uncertain and stressful. Now, Dominik, what tools are you using to keep the transparency in the Munich office? 

Dominik: First, we've introduced a digital anonymous suggestion box, a platform where people can actively ask for help. We've also implemented some other communication formats where they can talk about their energy and stress levels every week. We're making sure everyone gets their fair share through:

  • Weekly randomized coffee talks (Slack integration Donut)
  • Weekly voluntary checkout session
  • Project check-ins and retros
  • Monthly mentoring sessions with their team lead

Other Factors for Improving Mental Health at a Workplace

Now, once we've established a solid foundation of transparency and open communication, what other factors do you think can make a difference when it comes to employees' mental health?  

Dominik: I believe making mistakes and learning from them is super important. We're only human, after all, and mistakes are just part of our personal growth. Another critical aspect is keeping a good work-life balance.

You know what they say, "If you're not making mistakes, you're not trying hard enough!" But on a serious note, mistakes are all part of the journey. When talking about good mental health, we can’t skip the importance of regular physical exercise, which can boost mood and energy levels and reduce stress. Considering that working in IT often lacks physical activity, how important is it to offer sports programs to employees? Can you share some examples?

Sara: If your job requires you to sit at your desk for multiple working hours, it's important to incorporate as much physical activity as possible during the remaining hours of the day. At COBE Osijek, we provide our employees with a subscription to the MultiSport Card, with the company covering 50% of the costs. This monthly subscription allows users to access any sports facility in the MultiSport network, including gyms and pools. Additionally, when there’s interest, we also encourage and help in organizing group sports activities.

Dominik: We have developed a strategy called "healthy body, healthy mind" to promote overall wellness with a set of physical and mental activities. For example, we offer weekly yoga sessions led by our CEO and weekly meditation sessions led by a colleague. We provide fitness subventions through EGYM Wellpass, ergonomy 3.0 (including adjustable desks, comfy chairs, second screens, flexible working hours, and workation), a variety of healthy snacks everyone can suit themselves, and optional walking meetings outdoors.

Speaking of staying active and healthy, can you discuss any mental health training or awareness programs COBE offers and how these programs contribute to a healthy work environment?

Sara: Well, as we all remember, 2020 was a year of tension and change for everyone, but for COBEes, it brought something good, too – greater mental health awareness. We figured that providing our employees paid sessions with a mental health expert would be a great benefit for them as individuals and professionals. That’s when we started working with an external, licensed Gestalt psychotherapist. For those who are interested, we offer eight sessions every year and it’s a safe space to talk about whatever holds significance for them.

Is there anything else you'd like to mention about keeping mental health in check at work maybe something less talked about but still crucial?

Sara:Yes, for example, ambiance and workplace design are more important for mental health than you might think. We prioritize creating a well-designed office space with as much natural light and plants as possible. If you've ever checked our social media posts, you may have noticed that our office spaces are warm and homey. Our goal is to keep a welcoming atmosphere but still have high functionality for both individual focus work and team meetings.

Benefits of Prioritizing Employee Mental Health

We've covered all the factors that can affect mental well-being in the professional environment, but how exactly does mental health impact job performance? Taking care of employees' mental health is not just a matter of well-being; it's a strategic move that can boost the company's success, too. What benefits do you think can come from making this topic a priority?

Sara: Just as job satisfaction plays a huge role in our overall well-being, so does our well-being impact the company's performance. Taking care of employee's mental health can have various benefits for the company, such as:

  • Improved productivity: When employees are happy with their jobs and roles, they're more likely to be more motivated, engaged, and productive.
  • Reduced turnover: The more satisfied employees there are, the fewer resources the company has to spend on recruiting and training new employees. This means more development and education opportunities for current employees.
  • Enhanced creativity: Happiness and creativity go hand in hand. Happy employees are more likely to approach challenges with a positive mindset and think of fresh, innovative solutions.


In today's fast-paced work environment, prioritizing mental health has never been more important. By promoting open communication and implementing supportive HR processes, companies can positively impact employee well-being and overall productivity. Remember, investing in mental health benefits individuals as well as contributes to a healthier and more successful company.  

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About the author

Vanesa is a Marketing Manager at COBE. Besides writing, she enjoys photography and event planning.


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