Making Mental Health Part of Neustar’s DNA
Nearly two months into quarantine, meeting with colleagues over a computer screen versus across a desk began to feel less awkward. Keeping kids on task for online school while juggling consecutive customer calls was all in a day’s work. And toasting the end of a long week over Zoom happy hours, instead of raising a glass at the bar, became the “new normal.”
By May 2020, Neustar employees were adapting to pandemic life with remarkable toughness of spirit. But leadership knew there was nothing “normal” about the dramatic upheaval team members were experiencing at work and at home.
With May’s Mental Health Awareness Month as a backdrop, Neustar launched a program to support its team across four key mental health pillars: physical health, relaxation, balance, and getting help. What started as a month-long initiative has since blossomed into a widely supported program at all levels.
“While our employees were showing amazing resiliency in the early days of the pandemic, we knew forced isolation, worrying about the health of family and friends, and potential financial distress could substantially affect their emotional well-being,” says Chief Human Resources Officer Carey Pellock. “We didn’t want to just create something employees could ‘grab off the shelf’ if they needed help. Our goal was to encourage and support employees to be proactive about their mental health.”
While mental health programs aren’t a new concept to the corporate workplace, Neustar’s mental health initiative has become a valued part of company culture thanks to strong support from leadership. Each of the four mental health pillars is sponsored by two or more members of Neustar’s Executive Committee, who promote new initiatives to encourage mental health awareness, support, and care to the entire organization every month.
“This isn’t a ‘check-the-box’ kind of thing for Neustar,” says Brian Castillo, Director of Data Support and Site Champion for Neustar’s Costa Rica office. “We’re hearing about the importance of mental health regularly, we’re encouraged to care for ourselves in a variety of different ways, and we’re given the tools and resources to do so.”
Four Priorities for Supporting Mental Health
Each mental health pillar focuses on unique self-care strategies proven to boost mental health. As part of the Physical Health pillar, for example, employees can take part in nutrition education, monthly fitness and nutrition challenges, quick stretch-breaks, and enjoy free access to the Virgin Pulse app. The Relaxation pillar helps employees unwind and clear their mind—employees can join yoga and meditation sessions, get free access to the Headspace app, and are required to take advantage of a paid mental health day each quarter.
“It’s important to our leadership to encourage employees, who work in a fast-paced environment under normal circumstances, to take care of themselves,” says CEO Charlie Gottdiener. “To us, that means designating days for shutting down and turning off — something we know is hard to do when you’re working to meet deadlines and finish projects. We never want people to be in the position of having to actively choose their health over something else, and providing paid mental health days is an important part of ensuring well-being is a priority.”
The Balance pillar focuses on helping team members integrate work and family life in the way that best suits them and includes work-from-home resources, financial and time management tips, caregiver support, and more. The Getting Help pillar was designed to help employees tune into warning signs of emotional distress and seek professional help when needed.
A Commitment for the Future
“We knew we had to ‘walk the talk’ about this issue, to show we were committed to our own mental health by talking about our own strategies openly and regularly. Mental health has become integrated into our culture at Neustar and is now part of our DNA, which is something I’m really proud of,” says Charlie.
As Neustar looks to the future of work, an eventual return for some to office life, and the redefining of a “new normal,” these mental health initiatives will continue to evolve.
“We know that 18-plus months of coping with the pandemic’s impact—longer for many of our global employees—has taken a mental and emotional toll on everyone,” says Carey. “Now we’re also focused on understanding the stress and anxiety associated with returning to the office environment. What does that look like for each employee and how can we best help support them through this new transition? With such a robust and well-utilized mental health program in place, we now have a clear roadmap for any new initiatives our employees may need and want. That’s both comforting and exciting.”
Are you as passionate about mental health as we are? Check out our open positions and join our team!