Employee Wellness Programs: a Game-Changer for Recruitment & Retention

Employee Wellness Programs: a Game-Changer for Recruitment & Retention

| March 07, 2024

The concept of workplace wellness is rapidly transforming. Companies are moving away from viewing employees as cogs in a machine and recognizing them as valued individuals. This shift aligns perfectly with research that consistently shows happy and healthy employees are more engaged, miss fewer workdays, and experience less burnout. By prioritizing employee well-being through comprehensive programs and resources, employers can attract and retain a loyal, productive workforce. This article explores employee wellness as a recruitment factor and how employers can leverage it.

Employee Wellness & the Workplace

Mental health remains a top issue today. Many workers battle stress, anxiety and other mental health conditions in their personal and work lives. Fortunately, the mental burden of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more transparency and empathy around the topic, especially in the workplace. As attitudes about employee mental health have dramatically shifted for the better, employers are poised to bolster their mental health support for employees through benefits and other workplace resources. Employers are incentivized to do so, as mental health can impact employee performance and recruitment and potentially the bottom line.

The American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2022 Work and Well-being Survey validated that employee expectations related to mental health support are shifting, with 71% of workers reporting that they believe their employers are more concerned about employee mental health than in the past. More than 80% of workers agreed that how employers support employee mental health is an important consideration when they evaluate jobs. According to the APA survey, workers want the following:

• Flexible work hours: 41%

• A workplace culture that respects time off: 34%

• Remote work arrangements: 33%

• Four-day workweeks: 31%

These findings underscore the importance of mental health support in the workplace—and with a greater focus on mental health support, employers can work to attract more talent in a tight market. Consider the following key findings: 

  • More than three-quarters (87%) of employees considered wellness and well-being when choosing an employer, according to a study conducted by Workforce Magazine. 
  • Two-thirds (67%) of employees who worked for organizations with wellness programs liked their jobs more. The same percentage was “extremely” or “very likely” to recommend their employer to others, an Aflac Workforce study found. 
  • Nearly half (45%) of employees working at small to medium-sized companies said they would stay at their jobs longer because of employer-sponsored wellness programs, according to the Principal Financial Well Being Index. 

The data is clear: employee wellness programs are a game-changer for attracting and retaining top talent. Yet, some companies still struggle to integrate these initiatives into their benefits strategy, missing a golden opportunity. Savvy employers understand that prioritizing employee well-being isn't just the right thing to do, it's a strategic advantage.

How to Create a Wellness Culture

The work environment and the ways employees do their jobs can significantly impact mental health. More employers are continuing to embrace flexible and hybrid work formats, focusing on how everyone contributes rather than where or how they’re doing their job. While many employees are worried about their compensation keeping up with inflation, they also hope for nonmonetary factors that impact their work life. Employers may pursue the following strategies to support employee wellness: 

  • Expand Employee Benefits: offer an employee assistance program, mental health-friendly resources like telemedicine and develop a holistic wellness program.  
  • Support Work-Life Balance: focus on creating a flexible working environment, regardless of the type of work model.
  • Don't Just Walk the Walk: Incorporate employee wellness into the workplace culture and employer branding. 

Employee mental health isn't just the right thing to do, it's a smart investment. A 2023 study by Calm found a significant return on investment (ROI) - for every dollar invested, employers can save $2-$4 on healthcare costs. In today's economic climate, that's a win-win. Moreover, employees are prioritizing mental well-being and seeking workplaces that offer support. By providing resources and fostering psychological safety, employers can not only improve employee well-being but also attract and retain top talent. Effective employee recruitment hinges on ensuring workers feel safe and supported throughout their workday.

Before revamping existing initiatives, take time to evaluate their impact. Conduct surveys to understand what aspects resonate with employees and what areas require improvement. Understanding what your employees value most and what challenges their well-being (like inflation anxieties) is crucial for creating impactful programs.

Once you have a clear picture of employee needs, tailor your offerings accordingly. Consider expanding benefits packages to address financial concerns and prioritize mental health resources.

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