Monday, August 23, 2010

Working Minds Contest Winners

Each year The Carson J Spencer Foundation welcomes Colorado businesses, nonprofit, for-profit or governmental agencies to compete in the Working Minds Contest. This contest is designed to showcase workplaces in our community that practice innovative and effective approaches in promoting mental health at work. This year The Denver Center for Crime Victims won the contest and will be honored at the Shining Lights of Hope Benefit Auction Evening on August 28th, 2010 (for information and tickets go to event website).
The Working Minds Contest seeks to promote workplaces that are focused on the emotional well-being of their workforce – through policy, practice and overall culture. In a time when lots of workplaces are becoming increasingly distressed, some workplaces are making a concerted effort to keep their teams thriving. We are excited to hold up the practices of our top three nominees as a model for others.

Finalists 2010

The Denver Center for Crime Victims’ (DCCV) purpose is to provide culturally and linguistically responsive services to crime victims and crime prevention education. We are the beacon of hope and safety net for more than 6,000 people each year. Our services are broad, supporting survivors of simple theft, domestic and sexual violence, to suicide/homicide survivors. We provide crisis intervention, brief therapy, case management, financial assistance, crime scene clean up and more, all without cost to victims.

Innovative and effective approaches to promoting mental health:

  • “Our self care philosophy is an integral part of our workplace culture and is discussed with potential employees and volunteers and included in all job descriptions and orientations.” 
  • “Staff creates confidential, results-oriented stretch goals addressing five areas: physical, emotional, financial, intellectual and spiritual health. These goals are supervised twice a month and included in annual evaluations. Thus, staff gets paid to take care of themselves!”
  • Generous leave policies and flex-time including the opportunity for a 30-day paid sabbatical
  • Proactive measures to prevent vicarious trauma and burnout among staff

 OUTCOMES: Lower burnout and compassion fatigue rates and a higher sense of compassion satisfaction compared to the national average (as measured by Professional Quality of Life Scale)

  • “Compassion satisfaction is about the pleasure derived from being able to do your work well. The national average score is 37. The average score of the DCCV staff is 40, indicating a higher rate of employee satisfaction.
  • Burnout is associated with feelings of hopelessness and can be associated with a very high workload or a non-supportive work environment. The national average score is 22. The average score of the DCCV staff is 17, indicating a lower rate of burnout.
  • Compassion fatigue is the effect of work-related, secondary exposure to extremely stressful events. The national average score is 13. The average score of the DCCV staff is 11, indicating a lower rate of compassion fatigue or secondary trauma in response to our work.”

Second Place: Bayaud Enterprises

Bayaud’s mission is to provide Hope, Opportunity and Choice, with work as the means through which people with disabilities and other barriers to employment can more fully participate in the mainstream of life.

Innovative and effective approaches to promoting mental health:

  • “In our commitment to mental health, Bayaud has carved out money in an already tight budget to provide weekly life skills and support groups lead by a therapist. In addition, Bayaud will sponsor one on one mental health counseling for those in urgent need. Counseling services are provided through a partnership with Mindful Therapy. Bayaud is currently seeking funding to support expansion of “in-house” mental health services. Time off and schedule changes are accommodated as necessary to access mental health treatment, including extended absences from work, as required.”
  • “Staff meetings end with time dedicated to ‘Taking Care of Self’ where staff members discuss their stress levels and what they have planned to balance their stress. In addition to everyday supports and openness regarding mental health, Bayaud has also started a Healthy Families Program that provides information weekly regarding various Health and Wellness topics. Topics discussed are broken into four quarters of the calendar year to include Mental Health Awareness, Healthy Eating and Exercise, Disease Prevention, and Financial Health.”
  • “Financial struggles can also add to the stress of everyday living so Bayaud has partnered with AmeriCorps to provide onsite financial counseling services, education and free income tax services. Bayaud has also started an official Toastmaster’s group to promote confidence and the ability to give/receive criticism appropriately.”

OUTCOME: Turnover rate is less than 5%.


Compassion and Choices improves care and expands choice at the end of life. We support, educate and advocate.

Innovative and effective approaches to promoting mental health:

  • Employees are also encouraged to recognize the contribution of other employees by anonymously placing the employee’s name and accomplishment or kudos on a card and putting it in a lock box. Each month these cards are read at an all-staff meeting and all named employees get to choose from a selection of $10 gift cards as a reward.
  • Belongingness encouraged through regular staff lunches and project partnership
  • Special events such as “Pimp Your Patio” – “we happen to be in an office complex that has balconies and employee teams are put together to see who can create the most outrageous patio display.”

OUTCOMES: “High laughter and low turnover”




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