Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - 25

demand, which has been the biggest and most
recent challenge.
" How do I maintain my employees' overall
health, and mental health, while trying to meet
the demands of what's put before us? " has been
the question facing AAMP members. " It has
been a huge demand on everyone on our side
of the industry, especially when we saw some
of the larger plants shutting down for large
amounts of time because of COVID; a lot of
pressure got put back on the small side of the
industry, " Young said.
Dealing with the spike in demand with
the ability to supply the products has been
a common dilemma and the solutions have
depended on each company's dynamics.
" The thing for us has been helping our folks
to manage, 'how do we meet the customer
demand and not overtax our employees to
where they don't have proper mental health,
proper family life?' " Young said.
" What I've encouraged our members to look
at is that employees need time. You know, you
work so you can live, you don't live so you can
work, " he said. " For our folks, what they had
to come to grips with is that there's a place we
need to make a cutoff and give our employees
the proper amount of time off to be able
to regroup. "
For some companies, that has meant
closing their retail stores on Sundays for the
first time ever and making that part of the new
normal moving forward.
" I think that they're seeing that the job gets
done better mentally and physically, if we've
given them the proper time off that they need, "
Young said.

PROCESSOR PERSPECTIVE
Minnetonka, Minn.-based Cargill's commitment
to addressing mental health issues across its
diverse operations has included hiring Andi
Blaylock as its employee relations programs
senior consultant in 2014. Blaylock advises
business units on issues specific to employee
mental health, wellness and substance abuse
and treatment. She is the only Cargill employee
who is a licensed clinical social worker.
She pointed out that the company saw the
need for someone with her credentials and the
fact that she replaced someone in the same
position who retired speaks to Cargill's longterm commitment.

" Just investing in a role like this, I think
is unique; that an organization would say 'we
want to have an in-house mental health expert.'
I think this is one way that we're unique in this
space and that we really show our commitment
that we want to have someone who's available
to consult with managers as well as employees
when employee personal issues and employee
mental health issues impact the workplace, "
Blaylock said. " For many employers, offering
mental health benefits is considered a nice
thing to do for workers, but Cargill has
realized business benefits to addressing the
issue openly.
" It really leads to a healthier and more
productive, safer workforce. We see a direct
correlation between investing in mental
health and that return on investment in safety,
in productivity, medical claims...turnover,
absenteeism - all of those things. "
She went on to point out that generally,
every dollar a company invests in mentalhealth programming returns about $4.

ROOTING OUT CAUSES
" Employees don't generally start at this level of
performance, whatever it is, and just become
bad employees for no reason. It's usually
driven by something that's going on in their
lives outside of work, " Blaylock said. " That's
why it really behooves a corporation to pay
attention to employee mental health. Not
because it's a nice thing to do, which I think it
is, and the right thing to do, but it does have
those bottom-line benefits as well. "
At Cargill, all full-time and part-time
employees are offered free mental health care
through its Employee Assistance Program
(EAP), from the first day of work, unlike many
other benefit programs the company offers
that require meeting a certain number of hours
or days of work. She described the EAP as
its core, company-sponsored mental health
helpline and includes free work-life services,
from financial planning to legal consultations
to family caregiving referrals.
" Just like we offer vision benefits and
dental benefits, this is our mental-health
benefit. Employees, as well as their immediate
family members can use that program on day
one, " she said.
Utilization of EAPs in the industry and
at Cargill are admittedly low, about 5%,

" For many
employers,
offering
mental health
benefits is
considered a
nice thing to
do for workers,
but Cargill
has realized
business
benefits to
addressing the
issue openly. "
- ANDI BLAYLOCK

www.meatpoultry.com | 01.21 | MEAT+ POULTRY

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Meat+Poultry - January 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat+Poultry - January 2021

Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - 1
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Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - 2
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Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - vdg - 1
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Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - 67
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Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - marel - 1
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