This article was originally published on infobref.com
Quebec law will soon push companies to take action to ensure the psychological well-being of their employees. Montreal-based startup Nurau is offering them a new approach to contribute to the good mental health of their employees, by providing them with remote and live micro-training.
The problem the company is addressing is the pervasiveness of mental health issues in the workplace. The pandemic has highlighted how valuable and important psychological well-being is. Burnout costs Canadian companies an average of 35 days of work per employee per year. For a typical company with 50 employees, this would amount to approximately $1 million per year.
Yet companies are ill-equipped to deal with this problem. The only answer many employers offer is an employee assistance program. But these programs offer support when a problem has become so obvious and urgent that the employee requests it.
Nurau’s solution is an online distance learning service that is primarily designed for front-line managers.
It offers organizations 15-minute micro-trainings in psychological well-being and mental health. They aim to act upstream, before an episode of burnout occurs.
“All the trainings are given live,” explains Justin Lessard-Wajcer, founder and CEO of Nurau. Each session is led by a facilitator trained to lead conversations with a group in a corporate setting. He ensures that the sessions are a safe and healthy space for participants.”
These trainings are organized into pathways. A typical pathway consists of 6 training sessions, to be attended on a weekly basis. The same individuals are invited to attend all sessions within a pathway.
The first pathways correspond to themes such as
- supporting oneself and others
- working from home in a healthy way; and
- fostering diversity and inclusion
These trainings can be adapted to the needs of the company and its employees. They are not limited to employees of the same company. Instead, Nurau encourages managers with similar issues, regardless of their employer, to find each other in his training sessions, and even make connections.
“In many companies,” says Saba Saremi, Nurau’s chief operating officer, “the culture makes it so that not all managers are comfortable being around their superiors or peers. Being around different people, from different industries, with whom you don’t have a history of relationships, can make the experience less intimidating and encourage participation.”
Nurau’s business model is similar to that of an employee assistance program: companies pay an annual flat fee equal to a per-employee rate.
“Section 51 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) will stipulate for the first time next year that the employer must ensure the psychological integrity of workers,” observes Justin Lessard-Wajcer. Our platform can be a way to comply with this obligation.”
For companies hesitant to commit to an ongoing program, Nurau offers a sample of four 15-minute training experiences, which can be bundled into a single hour upon request.
Currently, Nurau has 11 employees and a dozen collaborators.
The company has conducted several pilot projects with small and medium-sized businesses, some of which were looking to comply with the OHSA and others that were already active in the wellness community. One of the companies that participated in these pilot projects was Ardene Fashion Stores.
Nurau is one of 20 startups selected this year in the Bourse+ program of Startup Montreal.
Next steps for Nurau:
Complete a $1.5 million funding round, for which the company has already raised $1 million; perfect its software platform, including adding social features that will allow participants to better help each other.
In the medium term, the company hopes to increase its user base to 75,000.
“From that threshold,” says Saba Saremi, “artificial intelligence and natural language processing will allow us to make correlations that will provide more value to our customers by increasing the impact of each pathway.”