May 17, 2020

Avetta: why mental health in the workplace matters

Sponsored Content
Sean Galea-Pace
4 min
Avetta, the cloud-based supply chain risk management and commercial marketplace platform, has released a white paper that examines mental health in the...

Avetta, the cloud-based supply chain risk management and commercial marketplace platform, has released a white paper that examines mental health in the workplace.

In this article, Supply Chain Digital takes a closer look at the white paper.

In the past, heavy manufacturing and construction sites weren’t generally considered a place where workers could openly discuss their problems. However, it has been found that this lack of openness can lead to terrible results. The construction industry in the United States has a suicide rate of 53 per 100,000 people, which is four times higher than the general population, according to the US Centres for Disease Control. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the United Kingdom. It is believed that stress is a primary factor, with one in 10 male workers revealed to be ‘significantly stressed’. The study found that men feel under considerable pressure to succeed in their work roles, despite changes in societal norms. Men are more likely to hold senior job roles, twice as likely than women to work full-time and often have a poor work-life balance. “We raise boys and men not to cry, not to show emotions,” said Poppy Jaman, Chief Executive of the UK’s City Mental Health Alliance. “That is amplified further when you’re working in a high-pressure sector which is incredibly competitive.”

Read Avetta’s blog on how construction workers suicide rate puts a focus on men’s mental health.

Injuries also play a prominent part of mental distress in the workplace. In a 2014 study, it was found that injured construction workers were 45% more likely to be treated for depression than non-injured workers. The study examined a number of different occupations and also showed that the effects of mental health were higher for men than for women. Raising awareness is regarded as one of the most effective ways to combat mental illness. Initiatives such as Movember encourage men to grow moustaches during November and use it as a conversation starter to try and persuade friends and family to donate to men’s mental health. Poor mental health also significantly affects businesses. It was revealed that the impact of poor mental health costs UK employers between £33bn and £42bn annually. A European Union study found that each case of a stress-related illness led to an average of 30.9 days lost of work. So, how can employers make a difference? Business in the Community, a corporate social responsibility based in the UK, recommends organisations harness an eight-step approach to combating mental health in the workplace.

1. Make a commitment.
A good way to address mental health is by signing a commitment such as a policy or statement of intent to combat it in the workplace. This can be done by designating a mental health champion to lead a supporting action plan as well as being endorsed by the CEO or a leading company executive. It should then be shared often and publicly with all employees.

2. Build an approach.
It’s important to understand an organisation’s obligations under local and national laws in order to address mental health in the workplace. You should assess each organisation’s individual mental health needs and utilise that information to introduce relevant workplace policies and strategies, to then develop a plan to deal with mental health issues.

3. Create a positive culture.
Continuous engagement and communication with management regarding positive mental health is a key pillar of a positive culture. Where possible, a healthy work/life balance should also be sought.

4. Provide training.
When an employee is experiencing problems, there is an importance for training to be provided in order for direct managers to monitor specific issues. It is important that they should be knowledgeable about workplace health, stress risk assessments and strategies for managing illness-related absences. For example, the UK’s Mental Health First Aid training programme teaches people how to address mental health issues.

5. Manage mental health.
Communication and openness around mental health should be encouraged and embraced. When seeking to address the stigma attached with mental health, employers may wish to consider changing the way they think of mental health.

6. Provide proper support.
Early intervention is vital. This can be done by asking a simple question, such as: ‘how are you doing?’. Upon discovery of an issue, there should be an informal chat followed by a more formal meeting if further action is required.

7. Help workers recover.
By explaining to employees how the company will help them to return to work, this will provide them with an increased positive mentality about returning to work.

8. Continue to refine and improve the approach.
The programme should be continued to be assessed through employee surveys and feedback. Make any adjustments as needed, such as additional training, enhanced communication and ongoing initiatives, including well-being days.

Read Avetta’s blog on how construction workers suicide rate puts a focus on men’s mental health.

For more information about how your organisation can assess how companies within your direct supply chain manage mental health awareness, visit Avetta.

To download the full white paper, click here!

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Jun 11, 2021

NTT DATA Services, Remodelling Supply Chains for Resilience

6 min
Joey Dean, Managing Director of healthcare consulting at NTT DATA Services, shares remodelling strategies for more resilient supply chains

Joey Dean, the man with the coolest name ever and Managing Director in the healthcare consulting practice for NTT DATA and is focused on delivering workplace transformation and enabling the future workforce for healthcare providers. Dean also leads client innovation programs to enhance service delivery and business outcomes for clients.

The pandemic has shifted priorities and created opportunities to do things differently, and companies are now looking to build more resilient supply chains, none needed more urgently than those within the healthcare system. Dean shares with us how he feels they can get there.

A Multi-Vendor Sourcing Approach

“Healthcare systems cannot afford delays in the supply chain when there are lives at stake. Healthcare procurement teams are looking at multi-vendor sourcing strategies, stockpiling more inventory, and ways to use data and AI to have a predictive view into the future and drive greater efficiency.

“The priority should be to shore up procurement channels and re-evaluate inventory management norms, i.e. stockpiling for assurance. Health systems should take the opportunity to renegotiate with their current vendors and broaden the supplier channel. Through those efforts, work with suppliers that have greater geographic diversity and transparency around manufacturing data, process, and continuity plans,” says Dean.

But here ensues the never-ending battle of domestic vs global supply chains. As I see it, domestic sourcing limits the high-risk exposure related to offshore sourcing— Canada’s issue with importing the vaccine is a good example of that. So, of course, I had to ask, for lifesaving products, is building domestic capabilities an option that is being considered?

“Domestic supply chains are sparse or have a high dependence on overseas centres for parts and raw materials. There are measures being discussed from a legislative perspective to drive more domestic sourcing, and there will need to be a concerted effort by Western countries through a mix of investments and financial incentives,” Dean explains.

Wielding Big Tech for Better Outcomes

So, that’s a long way off. In the meantime, leveraging technology is another way to mitigate the risks that lie within global supply chains while decreasing costs and improving quality. Dean expands on the potential of blockchain and AI in the industry

“Blockchain is particularly interesting in creating more transparency and visibility across all supply chain activities. Organisations can create a decentralised record of all transactions to track assets from production to delivery or use by end-user. This increased supply chain transparency provides more visibility to both buyers and suppliers to resolve disputes and build more trusting relationships. Another benefit is that the validation of data is more efficient to prioritise time on the delivery of goods and services to reduce cost and improve quality. 

“Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) is another area where there’s incredible value in processing massive amounts of data to aggregate and normalise the data to produce proactive recommendations on actions to improve the speed and cost-efficiency of the supply chain.”

Evolving Procurement Models 

From asking more of suppliers to beefing up stocks, Dean believes procurement models should be remodelled to favour resilience, mitigate risk and ensure the needs of the customer are kept in view. 

“The bottom line is that healthcare systems are expecting more from their suppliers. While transactional approaches focused solely on price and transactions have been the norm, collaborative relationships, where the buyer and supplier establish mutual objectives and outcomes, drives a trusting and transparent relationship. Healthcare systems are also looking to multi-vendor strategies to mitigate risk, so it is imperative for suppliers to stand out and embrace evolving procurement models.

“Healthcare systems are looking at partners that can establish domestic centres for supplies to mitigate the risks of having ‘all of their eggs’ in overseas locations. Suppliers should look to perform a strategic evaluation review that includes a distribution network analysis and distribution footprint review to understand cost, service, flexibility, and risks. Included in that strategy should be a “voice of the customer” assessment to understand current pain points and needs of customers.”

“Healthcare supply chain leaders are re-evaluating the Just In Time (JIT) model with supplies delivered on a regular basis. The approach does not require an investment in infrastructure but leaves organisations open to risk of disruption. Having domestic centres and warehousing from suppliers gives healthcare systems the ability to have inventory on hand without having to invest in their own infrastructure. Also, in the spirit of transparency, having predictive views into inventory levels can help enable better decision making from both sides.”

But, again, I had to ask, what about the risks and associated costs that come with higher inventory levels, such as expired product if there isn’t fast enough turnover, tying up cash flow, warehousing and inventory management costs?

“In the current supply chain environment, it is advisable for buyers to carry an in-house inventory on a just-in-time basis, while suppliers take a just-in-case approach, preserving capacity for surges, retaining safety stock, and building rapid replenishment channels for restock. But the risk of expired product is very real. This could be curbed with better data intelligence and improved technology that could forecast surges and predictively automate future supply needs. In this way, ordering would be more data-driven and rationalised to align with anticipated surges. Further adoption of data and intelligence and will be crucial for modernised buying in the new normal.

The Challenges

These are tough tasks, so I asked Dean to speak to some of the challenges. Luckily, he’s a patient guy with a lot to say.

On managing stakeholders and ensuring alignment on priorities and objectives, Dean says, “In order for managing stakeholders to stay aligned on priorities, they’ll need more transparency and collaborative win-win business relationships in which both healthcare systems and medical device manufacturers are equally committed to each other’s success. On the healthcare side, they need to understand where parts and products are manufactured to perform more predictive data and analytics for forecasting and planning efforts. And the manufacturers should offer more data transparency which will result in better planning and forecasting to navigate the ebbs and flows and enable better decision-making by healthcare systems.

Due to the sensitive nature of the information being requested, the effort to increase visibility is typically met with a lot of reluctance and push back. Dean essentially puts the onus back on suppliers to get with the times. “Traditionally, the relationships between buyers and suppliers are transactional, based only on the transaction between the two parties: what is the supplier providing, at what cost, and for what length of time. The relationship begins and ends there. The tide is shifting, and buyers expect more from their suppliers, especially given what the pandemic exposed around the fragility of the supply chain. The suppliers that get ahead of this will not only reap the benefits of improved relationships, but they will be able to take action on insights derived from greater visibility to manage risks more effectively.”

He offers a final tip. “A first step in enabling a supply chain data exchange is to make sure partners and buyers are aware of the conditions throughout the supply chain based on real-time data to enable predictive views into delays and disruptions. With well understand data sets, both parties can respond more effectively and work together when disruptions occur.”

As for where supply chain is heading, Dean says, “Moving forward, we’ll continue to see a shift toward Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and advanced analytics to optimise the supply chain. The pandemic, as it has done in many other industries, will accelerate the move to digital, with the benefits of improving efficiency, visibility, and error rate. AI can consume enormous amounts of data to drive real-time pattern detection and mitigate risk from global disruptive events.”


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