- Amazon is offering free counseling sessions and a number of other mental health benefits to all U.S. workers and their families, the company announced late last month.
- Employees and "anyone living in their homes" have access to three one-on-one counseling sessions per topic they wish to discuss. Counseling can be held in-person, on the phone or via video or text message. The e-commerce giant will fund up to 24 million counseling sessions each year.
- The benefits expansion creates interactive self-care programs and a stress resource center and also gives workers access to mental health crisis support, Amazon said.
Amazon's new offerings align with the company's existing benefits packages, according to Dene Sparrman, director of global benefits at Amazon. "You can't just keep launching new programs," she told HR Dive in an interview. "You have to make sure they integrate and they complement [each other]."
This strategy is part of Amazon's push to eliminate barriers and improve access to mental health care for its workers. "Regardless of who you are, where you are in the country, we want to make sure that you're aware and have access to this," Sparrman said.
The company leaned heavily on communication as it rolled out the new benefits, announcing the program in its open enrollment materials and posting fliers to reach its "very large, diverse population" in different ways.
Amazon also notified its other benefits vendors of the program. "If someone calls the health program with a mental health concern, that vendor can direct the employee to this benefit," Sparrman said.
Communication has long been an essential part of benefits administration, but the pandemic put a special emphasis on it, while also highlighting the need for mental health care. The coronavirus reduced employers' ability to educate employees about their benefits via in-person meetings, making digital communications all the more important. Amazon's use of diversified communication methods is something benefits professionals encourage, sources previously told HR Dive. Mailers, social media campaigns and email blasts are a few methods HR professionals can use to inform employees of their options, sources have said.