Wellbeing: the key to recruitment and retention

Posted: 20th February 2024

Naomi Thompson at Benenden Health explains how to build a wellbeing strategy that supports recruitment and retention


In the dynamic landscape of modern business, recruiting top talent and retaining valuable employees is a significant challenge for everyone.


Recent research also shows how attitudes of the workforce towards job stability are shifting, with 62% open to exploring new job opportunities in 2024.


The cost of employee churn, in terms of lost productivity, recruitment expenses, onboarding and training, makes building a workplace where people want to be in the long-term incredibly important. When you’ve got there, , standing still won’t work either – the only way to build a strategy that really works is to regularly ensure it’s still working for all of your employees.


Whilst finances remain important to current and prospective employees, the culture  at your organisation is massively influential when it comes to recruitment and retention, with wellbeing now serving as the cornerstone of most successful recruitment and retention strategies.


Employee wellbeing and organisational success is a two-way street. A workforce that feels valued, supported, and cared for is not only more productive but also becomes a magnet for top-tier talent. Prospective employees are increasingly seeking employers who prioritise wellbeing, viewing it as a tangible indicator of a company’s commitment to its people.


With individuals now taking more sick days than at any point in the past decade and research finding that the majority of employees (86 per cent) would be more likely to leave a job if it did not support their wellbeing, businesses face crucial decisions to maximise productivity, promote positive wellbeing and engage employees.


As such, those that weave wellbeing into their organisational fabric gain a competitive edge in attracting and retaining skilled professionals.


How is this strategy built, though? The first step is to ensure buy-in from the entire business – and especially the leaders within it.


Leadership commitment

The foundation of any successful wellbeing strategy lies in leadership commitment, so it’s important to start at the top. When leaders champion the cause of employee wellbeing, it sends a powerful message throughout the organisation. As such, leaders should actively participate in wellbeing initiatives, communicate the importance of a healthy work-life balance, and integrate wellbeing considerations into their decision-making processes.


Make sure that senior figures are driving the strategy and living the principles that you want employees to uphold themselves, as this will make your workforce and prospective hires more engaged and comfortable to promote their own wellbeing too.


Consultation is key

When developing a health and wellbeing strategy, it’s important to listen to employees and understand their needs and desires. Conducting employee engagement surveys and analysing data from existing initiatives can provide valuable insights into the key areas that need improvement. Tangible data, such as sickness records, employee demographics, and exit surveys, can be used to understand existing and recurring health-related trends within the business and enable a tailored strategy to be developed.


It’s important that a one-size-fits-all approach, or a box-ticking exercise, isn’t taken. Understanding the specific healthcare requirements of your workforce will enable appropriate support to be included in your strategy, so employees have support for the issues most likely to affect them. For example, do your employees do a lot of manual work, or are they typically sat at a desk for the majority of their days?


Supporting physical and mental health

Implementing suitable health and wellness support is a crucial aspect of any wellbeing strategy. These programmes can include fitness initiatives, mental health support and preventative care measures. Offering gym memberships, opportunities to get active at work, equipment to support musculoskeletal health and providing access to mental health helplines can significantly contribute to employee wellbeing, amongst other initiatives.


Making these comprehensive and suitable for all employees – regardless of their background – is important. Encourage everyone to utilise what you offer – including any team-wide ‘events’ – as this can help to make sure all employees are benefitting, rather than feeling embarrassed or singled out.


Build in flexibility

Recognising the diverse needs of employees, businesses should embrace flexible work arrangements if they want to build a strong wellbeing strategy that supports recruitment and retention. Whether through remote work options, flexible hours, or compressed work weeks, providing flexibility demonstrates trust in employees’ ability to manage their responsibilities effectively while acknowledging the importance of work-life balance.


Recent CIPD research found that 71% of workers view a flexible working pattern as important to them when considering a new role, while 69% say the ability to work remotely is important.


When individuals have the autonomy to work in a way that works for them, they experience less stress, feel more engaged with the business and their role, and ultimately are less likely to leave the business.


Support careers, not jobs

Wellbeing is not solely tied to physical health but extends to an individual’s sense of purpose and fulfilment. Offering professional development opportunities, mentorship programs and career-advancement initiatives all contribute to employees’ overall sense of wellbeing. Feeling valued enhances job satisfaction and encourages talent to stay within the organisation.


Encourage communication and feedback

A culture that encourages open communication and values feedback is essential for employee wellbeing. Establishing regular check-ins, anonymous feedback mechanisms and forums for employees to voice their concerns fosters a sense of belonging and ensures that organisational policies align with the needs of the workforce.


In regularly discussing your wellbeing initiatives, you can strengthen the culture of your organisation, remove stigmas associated with discussing our health at work, and ensure you’re providing the right tools for that moment in time.


For example, at times when financial worries are especially significant, consider introducing new initiatives to support people with their personal finances. In identifying the most pressing concerns that are impacting employee wellbeing at that time, you will be well placed to provide the support to mitigate this, all whilst building trust in your ability to acknowledge and address the changing concerns of your workforce.


In a world where talent is the cornerstone of success, businesses must recognise the pivotal role that employee wellbeing plays in recruitment and retention. Crafting a robust wellbeing strategy requires a holistic approach that considers physical, mental, and emotional dimensions and isn’t just throwing benefits at your workforce.


By fostering a culture of wellbeing, businesses not only attract top-tier talent but also create an environment where employees thrive, leading to increased productivity and organisational success.


Source: Business Reporter – Management – Wellbeing: the key to recruitment and retention (business-reporter.co.uk)

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