The Trane Technologies Global Wellness team partnered with Stories Inc. to create a mental health anti-stigma campaign powered by real employee stories. In this case study, you’ll see examples from the campaign and learn how it became the top-performing internal communications campaign of 2022. Also, check out the accompanying webinar: The Role of Employee Storytelling in Mental Health Awareness.
Trane Technologies is a global climate innovator that brings efficient and sustainable solutions to buildings, homes, and transportation. With 39,000 team members in 100+ manufacturing locations in 28 countries, Trane is home to an extremely diverse workforce in talent categories spanning Engineering & Technology, Manufacturing & Supply Chain, Project Management, Product, and Sales.
Setting the Scene: Trane Technologies’ Mental Health Program
Trane Technologies has a strong foundation when it comes to investing in their employees’ mental health. The company’s first global wellbeing program began back in 2010. In 2017, Trane implemented a Global Employee Assistance Program that provides employees and their household members eight free counseling sessions per issue per year.
Despite such a progressive wellbeing program, Trane Technologies still faced challenges around employee participation. Their team was working hard to improve awareness of and access to resources for team members no matter where they worked.
All of this came to a head in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the tens of thousands of Trane Technologies’ manufacturing team members and service technicians became essential workers overnight, there was increased urgency around mental health and the need to enhance support for team members.
The Challenge: Overcoming Mental Health Stigma
To create the best possible solution, Trane Technologies launched a Global Mental Health Pulse Survey in early 2021 to get a baseline understanding of the state of mental health throughout their workforce. Fourteen percent of Trane Technologies employees responded in just 30 days, representing a wide cross-section of the company’s diverse workforce.
The survey revealed that more than a third of respondents had trouble focusing multiple times per week due to mental health struggles. And when asked what barriers prevented them from seeking mental health help, “career impact,” “judgment/ perception,” and “time away from work” were the top three responses. All three of which point to mental health stigma as the primary barrier to participating in the company’s robust benefits program and willingness to seek workplace support.
To reach their goal of increasing mental health awareness and benefits utilization, Trane Technologies needed to first address mental health stigma in their workforce.
Enter Stories Inc.
The Solution: Mental Health Anti-Stigma Campaign Powered by Employee Stories
Trane Technologies’ Global Wellness Team partnered with Stories Inc. to create an employee storytelling campaign aimed at addressing mental health stigma. Due to the nature of the campaign objectives, two key elements were decided early on:
- Leadership participation as storytellers would be essential to showing top-down participation in mental health benefits. By focusing on leadership’s personal experiences, it showed that it is okay to talk about mental health at work.
- Global inclusivity would be key to driving engagement with Trane Technologies’ employees around the world.
With these considerations in mind, Stories Inc. virtually interviewed nine members of Trane’s leadership team about their experiences around mental health. Each storyteller was featured in their own employee spotlight video, a few examples of which we share below.
Campaign Theme: Highlighting Organizational Support for Mental Health
One important element of Trane Technologies’ mental health anti-stigma campaign was communicating leadership’s desire to support team member’s mental health needs. Additionally, leaders sharing their own personal stories further demonstrates that everyone, no matter who they are in the organization, has struggles sometimes. If team members truly believed that leadership wanted to help, not penalize, mental health concerns, they would be more likely to take advantage of mental health benefits when needed.
Kicking off the campaign was an emotional story from Ray Gallimore, Director of Environmental Health & Safety Services in North America. Ray shares the challenges he saw his team go through on the frontlines of the pandemic. And more importantly, how he escalated these concerns to leadership and quickly was able to bring counselors on-site to provide mental health resources.
This video showed team members that leadership cares about what they are going through and wants to help.
Campaign Theme: Leadership Sharing Their Own Experiences with Mental Health
In addition to stories of leadership support, the campaign also sought to reduce stigma around experiencing mental health difficulties. Especially, the stigma that seeking mental health resources would negatively impact one’s career.
Ann De Man, VP of Human Resources, courageously shared her own challenges with mental health in one of the campaign videos. She was simultaneously going through a very challenging issue in her personal life while working on a large, difficult organization restructuring at Trane Technologies. The stress was building up.
At the urging of a personal friend, Ann sought professional mental health help. She shares:
“You think that work cannot go without you and you have to continue even at the detriment of your health. At that moment when you are not able to do it anymore – suddenly, your colleagues are taking over; my boss was very understanding; friends were taking care of things in my household that needed to be done. It is possible to be out for a little while you are taking care of yourself. I’ve now learned how to cope when there are challenges.”– Ann De Man, Vice President of Human Resources
By “going first” and telling her own experience, Ann’s story was an important step in reducing stigma around mental health at work and encouraging team members to prioritize themselves.
Campaign Distribution and Results
Once the nine employee spotlights were published, the Global Wellness Team needed to distribute the campaign globally. Three steps were critical to ensuring the campaign was visible to Trane Technologies’ largest talent population: deskless employees.
- Stories Inc. closed captioned each video in nine different languages to make it readily accessible to Trane Technologies’ global workforce.
- Trane’s communications team used QR codes, lift-out quotes, and monitor displays at manufacturing sites to raise awareness for the campaign and make it easy for deskless workers to access the videos.
- Trane’s IT team created a shortcut in their employee communications mobile app to prompt employees to visit the video hub.
Using this three-tiered distribution approach, the nine videos received an average of 13,500 unique employee views, with the most-viewed video watched 22,521 times. In addition, Trane Technologies’ Mental Wellbeing Hub that now hosts the videos received more than 5,000 site visits in the first five months after launch.
The anti-stigma campaign was the highest performing internally-facing campaign of 2022, earning the Global Wellness Team and all storyteller participants a 2022 President’s Award.
Conclusion: Employee Stories are the Most Authentic Approach to Discussing Mental Health
By taking an employee story approach to addressing stigma around mental health, Trane Technologies was able to show, not just tell, how the company supports the mental wellbeing of their team members.