Workplace wellbeing – what is the business impact?

14 May 2014

Attracting and retaining the right employees is important for every business, but what’s the best way to do this? Recent studies from both Towers Watson and The Work Foundation show that higher pay does not buy employee loyalty or engagement. Therefore, if your retention strategy is only based on paying your workforce a high salary without any other benefits then it’s comparatively easy for staff to be tempted away by the lure of more money elsewhere. So, what else can you do to make a difference and build employee engagement?

workplace wellbeing

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From recent research we commissioned with ICM, we discovered a caring and supportive environment where employees feel listened to and valued as what employees are looking for. The survey found a third of employees would consider leaving their job due to poor workplace wellbeing1. Of course a fair and competitive salary is important, and that came top of the list of priorities, but almost as high came having a good relationship with their line manager and feeling empowered in their role. Around two thirds also stated that a comprehensive benefits package and financial support if they fell ill was important to them.

A perhaps surprising outcome from the survey was that a pension and a bonus, what may be seen as traditional employee benefits came at the bottom of the list of priorities. This could be to linked to the fact that the workforce has changed significantly over the past thirty years, with more women and older workers, and those with a disability or long-term illness. Today’s employees are looking to their employer to support their current needs and work/life balance, not something that seems a long way off, such as retirement. With auto-enrolment rolling out over the next few year, every company in the UK will have a pension plan by 2018. Employers will need to look at what other employee benefits they can offer to set them apart from their competitors and attract the best employees.

 

Men were significantly more satisfied with how their employer looks after their wellbeing than women. 70% of men were happy with the standard of wellbeing their company offered, as opposed to just 58% of women. This could be for a number of reasons, such as women having higher expectations and appreciating more a company that cares. They tend to need and want greater support and flexibility due to commitments outside of work, such as child care and worry more about their financial security. Employers need to look at the make-up of their workforce and match their wellbeing plan according to the needs of their employees.

It’s clear that creating the right culture is essential to workplace wellbeing. This relies on many elements coming together, such as good leadership, a holistic approach to wellbeing and a comprehensive benefits package. Once these are in place, then good communication is vital. If your workforce isn’t aware of everything that’s on offer they won’t fully appreciate it and you’ll fail to reap the benefits of increased staff loyalty. Investment in wellbeing must go hand in hand with an effective internal communication strategy.