Volume 3 Issue 2 January 2021
In this Issue
Welcome to Industree 4.0 for January 2021, exclusively sponsored by SAP. We lead off with a special article by SAP. That is followed by regular columnists Pat Dixon and Jim Thompson. We'll wrap with other perspectives from around the industry.
Remarks from SAP

Research: People Want Their Employers to Talk About Mental Health
Mental health awareness has reached an inflection point. Singers, actors, and athletes are increasingly coming out about their challenges. Michael Phelps has been outspoken about his struggles with depression. Lady Gaga told the press what it’s like to live with PTSD. Prince Harry added his voice to the group when he spoke about his battle with anxiety. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, talking about how he copes with depression, said, “One of the most important things you can realize is that you’re not alone.”

While these kinds of stories help to break down stigma, they are, unfortunately, not enough to make people feel safe talking about mental health at work. Despite the fact that over 200 million workdays are lost due to mental health conditions each year ($16.8 billion in employee productivity), mental health remains a taboo subject. In fact, almost 60% of employees have never spoken to anyone at work about their mental health status.

To figure out why, Mind Share Partners, SAP, and Qualtrics conducted a study on the prevalence of mental health challenges and stigma in U.S. workplaces. It looked at the full spectrum, from 100% mentally healthy to chronic and severe impairment. In previous studies, mental health has often been measured through either diagnosable conditions or general stress levels. But these two metrics do not fully capture the breadth of mental health experiences that lie between them, such as undiagnosed conditions, episodic challenges, and symptoms that do not meet a clinical threshold.

We aimed to broaden this perspective by framing our questions in terms of individual symptoms, which are less stigmatized. Instead of asking whether respondents had a specific diagnosis, we asked if they had experienced one or more symptoms from a list of common mental health conditions. (For example, “In the past year, have you ever felt sad, numb, or lost interest or pleasure in most activities for at least two weeks?”) We collected responses from more than 1,500 U.S. adults in the for-profit, nonprofit, and government sectors, with statistically significant representation across race, gender, LGBTQ+ identity, education, and seniority groups — including demographics that have been historically underrepresented and under-researched in this area.

What Did We Find?

Less than half of our respondents felt that mental health was prioritized at their company, and even fewer viewed their company leaders as advocates.
This needs to change. Mental health is becoming the next frontier of diversity and inclusion, and employees want their companies to address it. Eighty-six percent of our respondents thought that a company’s culture should support mental health. This percentage was even higher for Millennials and Gen Zers, who have higher turnover rates and are the largest demographic in the workforce. Half of Millennials and 75% of Gen Zers had left roles in the past for mental health reasons, both voluntarily and involuntarily, compared with 34% of respondents overall — a finding that speaks to a generational shift in awareness. It is not surprising then that providing employees with the support they need improves not only engagement but also recruitment and retention, whereas doing nothing reinforces an outdated and damaging stigma.

Because companies are not doing enough to break down this stigma, many people don’t self-identify as having a diagnosable mental health condition, even though up to 80% of us will manage one in our lifetimes. Low levels of self-identification mean that many workers won’t seek treatment, and it might explain why disclosure rates in companies are low. Our research showed that while nearly 60% of respondents experienced symptoms in the past year — a number much higher than the oft-cited 20% of people who manage a condition in any given year — close to 60% also never talked about their conditions at work. When conversations about mental health did occur, less than half were described as positive. In fact, respondents were the least comfortable talking with their company’s HR and senior leaders, although senior leaders, including CEOs, were just as likely to struggle with mental health symptoms as individual contributors.

How Can Companies Do Better?

Companies that want to improve the state of mental health at work — especially for younger, diverse demographic groups — need to adjust their strategies. Mental health is not just an HR issue; it’s also a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issue and is slowly becoming its own category within DEI given its prevalence across all populations. At the same time, mental health needs to be looked at through an intersectional lens because of how much each person’s experience varies. This means that HR departments or check-the-box solutions like employee assistance programs (EAPs) are not enough to address its nuance or drive change on their own. Nor will mental health policies alone solve the problem.

Regardless of how robust a company’s benefits are, it is culture that ultimately reduces stigma and empowers employees to actually use those benefits without fear of retribution. Our study shows that the most commonly desired workplace resources for mental health are a more open and accepting culture, training, and clearer information about where to go or who to ask for support. The ways to achieve these, and other critical components, are multifaceted.

Start at the top. Changing the culture is a top-down process. It starts with transforming leaders into allies. Encourage executive teams, managers, and senior employees to share their experiences (or those of close family members or friends) at all-staff meetings or in other interactions with their teams. Modeling disclosure and vulnerability as strengths, not weaknesses, goes a long way toward reducing the stigma and setting the tone for transparency.

Invest in education. Trainings are imperative for all employees — and especially managers — to learn how to name, normalize, and navigate mental health at work. We’re not advocating for managers to become therapists. However, they should have baseline knowledge of tools they can use during difficult conversations and actions they can take to reduce the stigma, in addition to an understanding of mental health conditions, their prevalence and impact at work, and ways to recognize and respond to employees who may be struggling. In short, managers need to be taught to treat each individual with respect and realize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Provide support. At a minimum, companies need solid mental health benefits, and those that do have them must learn how to communicate them clearly — as well as their confidential nature. Many employees are either unaware of the mental health resources offered at their organizations, or they are afraid to use them. In our study, Millennials were 63% more likely than Baby Boomers to know the proper procedure for seeking company mental health support.

One way to ensure every worker is aware of these benefits is to talk about them, and any policies that support them, during employee orientations, as well as periodically each year. Stand-alone anonymous surveys or mental health-specific questions within existing employee engagement surveys are effective ways to measure attitudes toward mental health and keep organizations accountable. (After all, what gets measured, gets done.)

Some companies, like Verizon Media, Johnson & Johnson, and RetailMeNot, are taking their efforts a step further and implementing employee resource groups as a part of their DEI strategies. Such groups help raise mental health awareness throughout companies and create a forum for individuals with a condition, caregivers, and allies to support one another. Including mental health in DEI strategies is a critical component of enabling people to bring their full selves to work.

The good news is that change is possible. It starts with acknowledging the equal prevalence of mental health conditions from the C-suite to the front lines, changing organizational culture, introducing proper training and support, and addressing mental health as a standalone DEI issue. CEOs must lead by example as both the priority and culture setters of their companies. That said, every employee has a role to play as well. Culture change of any kind requires top-down and bottom-up support. Mental health is no different.
Which mill to close?
By Pat Dixon, PE, PMP

President of 
www.DPAS-INC.com, offering project management and engineering for industrial automation projects.

Last year in the United States there were approximately 140 mill or converting plant closures or curtailments resulting in the loss of approximately 20,000 jobs. Nobody likes this, but when the health of the business is at stake these repulsive decisions need to be made.

In Industry 3.0, these decisions are made by reports that may be issued quarterly or monthly. The reports tell the corporate office how the overall business is doing and provides some information about your facilities. If you have multiple production facilities, you might know the operational efficiency at these facilities. You might also know about safety issues, depreciated capital, non-deferable investments to keep to facility running, new local regulatory compliance requirements, and labor relations. All of these and more are ways to compare your mills. When your enterprise is in trouble and costs need to be cut, you may have to use these reports to determine which mills to sell or close.  

Industry 4.0 provides a better way.

Imagine you did not rely on quarterly or monthly reports. Imagine all the pertinent key performance indicators (KPI) for each of your mills are available in realtime. Each mill can see their KPIs and all others, providing incentive to keep them from sinking to the bottom. Before times get tough, this realtime information could predict where you are heading and point to the cause. If you identify the mill that is dragging you down, realtime information gives you options to deal with it before it becomes too late and results in closure.

Perhaps there is no way to automatically respond to labor relations issues and government regulations, but there are concerns that are under your control that can keep mills and employees productive with timely actions. The unfortunate actions of shedding mills and employees are not fun. In Industry 4.0, the better way may be to keep the mill running and jobs saved.  
Data Discovery
We talk a lot about data analysis in Industry 4.0, but I've seen little discussion on data discovery. "Discovery" is that nasty legal term, used to find data you may not necessarily want to reveal. Civil suits are an environment where this term often appears.

It goes like this. Party A sues Party B. Party A thinks Party B has some data or other information that would be great to make their case. They subpoena Party B in order to obtain it. At this point it is too late to purge your files; you and/or your employer could be in serious legal trouble. Files must be purged before there is ever any hint of legal action.

Industry 4.0 and cheap computer memory has made it easy and economical to store data forever. Engineers and scientists love data, the more the merrier. They love to store it forever.

You need to have a data retention policy that is as well thought out and rigorous as your data security policy. You just don't need to keep data back past a certain date. That date may be dictated by audit rights of the taxing authority in your district, contractual rights you have with a client or many other factors.

In the past, even going way back to when all data was on paper, companies learned the hard way retaining information too long was detrimental to their company's health. The most famous case of this was the old "Ma Bell" anti-trust trial and decision in the late 1970's/early 1980's.

Blockchain technology, which I barely understand, seems to be a particularly vulnerable area for legal tomfoolery.

Technology developments always have legal ramifications. Sadly, these are often discovered after the damage has been done. Time to get your lawyers involved now.
All About IoT Analytics
By Anuj Sinha

Pratiti Technologies
Through analytics, you can harness IoT data’s power and lay it as a foundation of successful IoT development services. And unless you have your analytics basics right, there’s no way you can achieve success with IoT.
Digitalization did not increase productivity as expected
Aalto University

The Digital Disruption of Industry Consortium has researched the impact of digitalisation on Finnish society.
Manufacturers May Soon Have a 'Reasonable' Standard for IoT Cybersecurity

While the recently passed IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2020 may only apply to Internet of Things (IoT) devices purchased by the federal government, lawyers say it may become a de facto IoT cybersecurity baseline for the private sector. 
How to prep for becoming an IoT leader
Bob Violino

Network World
Companies are grappling with how to properly manage and secure their IoT deployments. They need people who can evaluate a wide range of IoT connectivity options, balance the requirements of different connected devices, and deploy appropriate edge infrastructure to gather and process IoT input. For IT leaders, now's the time to think about building an IoT team with the right expertise.
Industree 4.0 is exclusively sponsored by SAP