Guess who is taking wellbeing seriously? Your future employees

Towards the top of any business leader’s agenda is the thorny issue of attracting and keeping great employees. And so it should be, given the positive effect that top talent has on an organisation, and the formidable costs of replacement.

Winning the talent wars, or at least staying competitive, is all about understanding and offering what your prospective employees want. And that’s where things are getting progressively trickier.

The problem is two-fold. Firstly, it’s hard for employers to keep up with changing expectations. What skilled workers want right now is different to a decade — or even five years — ago. Secondly, good professionals have a commanding position in the marketplace. If they don’t see what they want, they vote with their feet.

Wellbeing moves onto the must-have list

So, what’s on a professional’s must-have list? Some items aren’t hard to predict. A good salary and generous holiday allocation, for example, remain powerful recruitment incentives. Yet there are other factors which, in recent years, have stormed up the charts like an Ed Sheeran single. Among them is the need for work that maintains or enhances their health and wellbeing.

The statistics on this are compelling. For example:

    • Forbes report that 87% of employees take health and wellness packages into account when choosing an employer.
    • The 2020 Deloitte Human Capital Trends Survey found that “well-being was the top-ranked trend for importance… with 80% of our nearly 9,000 survey respondents identifying it as important or very important to their organization’s success.”
    • In their survey of 1200 professionals,Recruitment Agency Robert Walters report that 88% of professionals consider a company’s mental health policy when researching a new role.

Nor are these trends confined to employees in larger companies: in a survey of small and medium-size businesses, 45% of respondents said they would stay longer in their jobs as a result of employer-sponsored wellness programmes.

It’s not about the pandemic

But hold on a second – isn’t all this just the result of the pandemic? Couldn’t the current preoccupation with health and wellbeing be a one-hit wonder – more Charles & Eddie than Ed Sheeran?

Almost certainly not. Of course, the impact of Covid-19 has put health and wellbeing into the spotlight. Apart from the implications of homeworking, it’s allowed millions to reappraise life on the hamster wheel. However, as the Deloitte Survey makes clear, these trends were visible well before the pandemic. They are part of a broader cultural shift that values experiences over possessions, quality of life over income. This is most apparent in Generation Z, and as they come to dominate the workforce, we can expect health and wellbeing to become even more dominant in choice of employer.

Making a bold statement

Against this backdrop, it’s a shame that many UK employers still see health and wellbeing programmes as the business equivalent of socks: something you’re obliged to have, but nothing to get excited about. As such, they devote the minimum possible attention to choosing and implementing an appropriate programme.

As we’ve seen, in 2021, that’s a mismatch with what employees are looking for.

In our view, companies who really want to attract and keep talent need to go bigger and bolder, putting in place high-quality wellness programmes — and they shouldn’t be shy about it.

Skilled employees are enjoying a buyer’s market, and as savvy, choosy consumers, they will research your company to see what benefits are on offer. Nor is there any hiding behind bland mission statement waffle: 70% of prospective employees now use Glassdoor to gather information about a company, and the majority of candidates read six reviews before forming an opinion.

In this environment, a company that can show a commitment to health and wellbeing will have an important edge in the ongoing battle for high-quality workers. In addition, as customers increasingly seek businesses which look after their workers, that public commitment will reinforce a positive brand identity.

It all adds up to this: from corporations to SMEs, the time is ripe for organisations to take wellbeing every bit as seriously as their employees do.

ART Health Solutions is a wellbeing consultancy, providing effective, science-based wellbeing recommendations. Our bespoke solutions are generated by gathering data directly from the organisation and its employees. Having proven our methods working with large, multinational corporations, we’re excited to bring our expertise to small and medium-size UK businesses.

To learn how we can benefit your company, please contact our friendly team.

Dr Paul Smith

Chief Strategy Officer, ART Health Solutions

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