United Rentals

Mental Health Campaign: ‘When the going gets tough, the tough reach out’

Learn how we helped the world’s largest equipment rental company create a campaign to overcome the stigma of talking about mental health and encourage employees to seek help. This campaign won a Gold Quill Award, the highest honor conferred by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). 

  • We needed to convince United Rentals’ 90% male population to open up about mental health issues and use the Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP).  
  • Executive buy-in was crucial. Previous attempts at mental health outreach had fallen short, so leaders were understandably skeptical.  
  • It was important to ensure materials were accessible and understandable by all United Rentals employees and their families, including those not fluent in English.  

We developed an integrated communications campaign under the umbrella theme, “Getting Help is a Sign of Strength.” This incorporated a creative tagline, messaging, and visuals to resonate with a male audience and hit the stigma of mental health head-on.  

  • We partnered with the United Rentals benefits team to educate leaders and gain their support and sponsorship
  • We expertly managed 35 distinct versions of print pieces to serve employees in French-speaking Canada and a significant number whose primary language is Spanish. 
  • We held employee focus groups to gauge awareness of United Rentals’ mental health resources, understand barriers to getting help, and field-test our concepts/taglines. 
  • Outreach to homes included an oversized postcard to ensure that key healthcare decision-makers were aware of resources. 
  • We designed a training course to increase managers’ confidence and enable more open discussions with employees about mental health.  
  • We developed a communication toolkit for 1,100+ United Rentals branches, including mirror clings, posters, flyers, and an infographic.  
  • Surround-sound messaging included plasma screens, an intranet banner, email signature, internal social media posts (using #signsofstrength), and a launch email from the COO.  
  • Mental health content for branch weekly safety meetings connected the dots between being mentally well and physically safe. 

  • EFAP utilization increased by 50% for employees in the US and Puerto Rico; 24% for Canadian employees; and a whopping 2000% for families.  
  • Over 60% of employees responded “yes” to an engagement survey question that asked whether United Rentals supports employees in looking after their mental health. 
  • Nearly 20% of managers engaged with the Mental Health Training course.