What do you find fulfilling about your work?
The meaningfulness. People in crises and stressful situations often lose sight of new perspectives and possibilities: Everyday life gets out of control and people are often no longer aware of their own resources. Listening to them, accompanying them, and finding ways together is an enriching, meaningful activity. In my meetings, there is a lot of trust involved. Based on a professional attitude and compassion, I have great respect for what is expected of us in life and how those affected find a way to deal with a crisis, loss or serious illness. Anyone can have such a profound, transformative experience in their life. Evonik’s Health Management and Social Counseling department offers support that is available to all employees and their families throughout Germany.
What is a typical day in your working life?
My day usually starts early in the morning at eight o'clock, and like many others, the first thing I do is sort through my e-mails, messages, and get an overview of my appointments. These appointments are counseling sessions on topics such as excessive work demands, anxiety, conflicts, family stress, dealing with changes or serious illnesses, grief situations, and even financial problems as well. I am subject to the legal duty of confidentiality and all inquiries are treated strictly confidential. With that being said, sometimes it makes sense to involve the personnel department, the company doctor, or even the employee’s supervisor. However, this only happens with the cooperation and express consent of the employee concerned. In addition, I am connected with therapy facilities, clinics, and internal discussion groups that can offer extra support. My tasks also include preparing presentations and conducting workshops on the topics of mental health, resilience, and mindfulness. I am also approachable in acute crises and events so sometimes a planned day may suddenly look completely different. If a staff member is suddenly at the door in an emergency - this always takes priority.
As a qualified social worker, why did you decide to work in a corporate environment?
During my studies, I focused on counseling and started my career in this area as well. I have additional qualifications in systemic counseling, systemic therapy, family therapy, and I'm a certified mediator. Before joining Evonik, I worked for many years in the counseling and treatment of people abusing addictive substances. My work is diverse and varied just like the people in the company. No two days are the same; you need a high degree of flexibility and professionalism. Evonik supports the Health Management and Social Counseling department with good framework conditions, for example, by regularly providing the necessary professional supervision. It's simply a pleasure to work here.
Why is it so important to offer services for psychological crises in everyday working life?
Experiencing mental stress or a mental illness is a deeply unsettling experience for most of those affected. This naturally has a major impact on an employee’s concentration, motivation, and ability to work. Mental illness, in particular, is still very much a taboo subject. Many employees wonder, “How do I tell my colleagues and superiors about my mental illness? Should I disclose private and personal information at all?” An appropriate, open approach with profession support can help conversation, compassion and understanding, as well provide clarification and guidance. The experience of the Coronavirus Pandemic has shed light on mental health in both society and the working world. We've all noticed how lockdown, social distancing, and isolation can impact our mental well-being. Connecting with others helps, even if it's only via video conference.
What makes the Rheinfelden site so special for your work?
The Rheinfelden site is right on the Swiss border and is embedded between the urban Rheinfelden and the nature on the Rhine. It is the largest employer in Rheinfelden, has grown historically, everyone knows and greets each other. While employees were initially somewhat reluctant to accept my offer of mental health support, I now feel very welcome. I experience appreciation and friendliness here. There are many employees from different nationalities at the site, and we are all integrated into what one could almost call a family community. In addition, the site is located directly on the High Rhine, and I have the great fortune to look out of my office window at the Rhine and the various species of birds - a very special view at any time of year.