How employee wellbeing will impact the future of recruitment and retention

Mental health and wellbeing have never been bigger topics in the workplace.

During the pandemic, almost every employer faced backlash for a lack of initiatives to support healthier lives – and it did encourage many to take action. 

Yet, despite this positive shift, a lot of these initiatives were wiped off the face of the earth after the peak of COVID-19. This left many employees wondering if leaders do care. And while mental health and wellbeing initiatives are in a better position than in a pre-covid world, much more needs to be done over the next few years.

Here, we’ve explored the impacts of mental health and wellbeing on two major operations in business – recruitment and retention. Ultimately, why should leaders consider wellbeing when hiring the best talent? How can wellbeing ensure people stick around through the thick and thin? 

Why does wellbeing matter to recruitment?

To begin with, let’s talk about how wellbeing impacts recruitment. In the modern workplace, people are becoming more health-conscious, realising that “hustle-culture” and burnout aren’t things to glorify. 

People are beginning to seek out job opportunities that consider mental health and employee wellbeing. According to a report by Forbes, a staggering 87% of professionals consider the health and wellness packages offered when choosing employers. 

Despite this figure, a large percentage of employers underestimate the significance people place on health and wellbeing in the workplace. In fact, only 25% of employers leverage their benefits package to recruit new talent; proving that even if their benefits scheme includes a huge focus on health and wellbeing, they aren’t doing enough to promote it. 

Ultimately, as society starts to rethink wellbeing, businesses need to react. This is especially true with the emerging attitudes of younger generations. Both Millennials and Gen Z employees spend more on fitness, and represent nearly 80% of all gymgoers, according to LesMills

In addition to the very obvious increase in health, fitness and wellbeing, there’s also the rise of a particular role in a lot of businesses. That being a Chief Wellbeing Officer (CWO). These individuals are hired to ensure people remain happy and healthy in the workplace. By doing so, businesses can minimise high turnover, because as we all know, happier and healthier teams stick around!

These positions are often filled in much larger companies. Think Delta Airlines and Royal Caribbean Cruises; both of which have hired Chief health/medical officers. And despite the slight difference in title and role, their purpose remains the same. 

Now that we understand the role of wellbeing from a recruitment perspective, let’s take a look at how wellbeing influences retention. And that doesn’t always mean retaining talent! Some companies neglect wellbeing enough to drive employees in the other direction. 

Why does wellbeing matter to employee retention?

Firstly, retaining your best talent is an ongoing goal, and must be met with long-term strategies and techniques. What’s more significant is the impact retention can have on overall business goals, performance, and its ability to sink or swim. Businesses that constantly have to train new starters are hit with more negatives than you may think. 

Take the financial implications of always hiring. Not only are teams forever lacking necessary expertise, but managers are always busy training new hires – and development can be a costly game.

Of course, these scenarios simple aren’t sustainable for businesses, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Better mental health and wellbeing initiatives are one of the major ways to retain top talent. Whilst this is the case, one study found that 46% of UK employees believed their workplace did not have the tools to measure mental health.  

What’s more, a lot of leaders mistake wellbeing for being holistic only. And while yoga and meditation are great ways to boost health and happiness, it’s a limiting notion. For instance, with living costs climbing ever higher, financial wellbeing has become a huge driving force for attracting and retaining talent. 

In the workplace, this translates into subsidised tuition and better financial education. By supporting employees with a wide range of financial wellbeing initiatives, leaders can ensure employees remain happier, and in turn, healthier. 

Long story short, wellbeing is an elaborate area within a business and touches on various aspects of life. It’s within the forward-thinking businesses who understand this point that thrive. 

The near future of wellbeing, recruitment and retention 

Looking forward, employee wellbeing will become a determining factor in the recruitment process. A glance at job openings on sites like LinkedIn reveals the lengths companies now go to showcase their employee benefits. Many of which are health and wellbeing related. 

All of a sudden, many of us can recall plenty of job listings that advertise things like ‘pawternity leave’, office yoga, duvet days and many more. Only companies that are ready to make the leap towards benefits like this are prepared for the wellbeing wave set to hit the workplace in the near future. 

In the past decade, we’ve seen industry-leading companies like Microsoft, Netflix and Google ramp up their employee health and wellbeing offering. And some of their ideas have been game-changing. What’s more, their success proves that wellbeing should be at the forefront of any employee benefits package. 

Ultimately, we all want to lead healthier, happier lives. People are beginning to rethink what the workplace means to their personal growth, across multiple areas of life. The role of an employer took on many different demands throughout the coronavirus pandemic; managers had to embrace mental health conversations, employees grew fond of flexible working arrangements, and employers had to come up with ways to support furloughed staff through improved financial wellbeing benefits. 

It seems like we are going through changing times for the future of employee wellbeing, employee recruitment and retention – and it appears this may only be the beginning. 

About the author

Alex Hind is the CEO & Co-founder of Heka, an employee wellbeing platform presenting employees with thousands of wellbeing experiences, services and products.