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Using Wellness Initiatives to Boost Retention

November 02, 2022 Employee Experience
Mark Feffer
By Mark Feffer

While the idea of the Great Resignation has faded somewhat from the headlines, talent retention remains a top concern for employers today. According to a global survey of executives by HR services firm Executive Networks, about 83% of organizations continue to face significant talent retention problems. 

In the US, more than 4 million Americans quit their jobs in August alone, and about 40% said they were considering leaving their jobs within the next three to six months.

Findings from Executive Networks' research show that 75% of CHROs are now prioritizing talent retention and attraction because of all the changes taking place in the workforce. They attribute higher levels of voluntary turnover to stress and employee burnout, a lack of career advancement and development opportunities, work/life balance issues and the need for increased compensation. Long hours, feeling underappreciated and an inability to work remotely are also part of the mix.

So, what's the problem? Why can't organizational leaders get ahead of the issue once and for all?

Recruiting Is Not the Answer

On the surface, it may seem logical for employers to bump up their recruiting efforts to counter the turnover. If X number of workers are taking flight, about X number of workers need to be recruited.

But Executive Networks EVP Jeanne Meister wrote in the company's press release that recruiting new talent isn’t the answer. “In many cases, employees are re-evaluating their priorities and purpose, and employers need to better understand how to provide employees with success by staying put,” Meister said.

This increasingly means casting a meaningful light on wellness and wellbeing — two facets of the employee experience that have recently emerged as critical components of successful talent management strategies.

In fact, Executive Networks said nearly 30% of HR leaders expect their budget for employee wellbeing programs will increase over the next 12 months. If nothing else, this indicates an awareness that reducing stress and burnout, and addressing work/life balance issues, can make a notable difference in keeping down turnover rates, the release said.

Related Article: What Is Really Hurting Employee Mental Health

From Resignation to Reshuffling to Reevaluation

The Great Resignation and all the name variations that followed have highlighted a shift in the relationship between employees and employers, and the need for better balance overall.

Corporate cultures and people’s perceptions of work life have changed. Employees are reevaluating what they need in the workplace and from their employers, and that has organizational leaders worried.

One one hand, this reevaluation of wants and needs is driving the uptick in people quitting. Employees have become less loyal to their companies and less willing to accept stress as part of the daily grind.  

In Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index Report, Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan observed that “workers around the world have a new ‘worth it’ equation, with 53% of respondents — particularly parents (55%) and women (56%) — saying they’re more likely to prioritize their health and wellbeing over work than before."

And they’re taking action, she said. According to the Microsoft survey, the number one reason cited for leaving their jobs was for personal wellbeing or mental health reasons.

So, no, these things have not gone unnoticed by employers. There has been numerous discussions about work-life balance and the rise in employee burnout, long before came the “quiet quitting” buzz, where employees choose not to go above and beyond their basic responsibilities and instead do only what they are obligated to do, all in an attempt to escape “hustle culture” and overwork.

Related Article: Worried About Quiet Quitting? How to Create an Environment Where It Doesn't Happen

Making Wellness Top of Mind

With all that's happened over the past few years, it's probably not surprising that the winner of the 2022 HR Technology Conference Pitchfest was a startup wading into the employee experience space.

SPOTLYFE positions itself as a tool to help both businesses and workers improve their relationship by helping employees improve their wellbeing at work and at home. It aims to assist people at every level of the organization by guiding them through weekly moments of self-reflection and the “micro-changes” that result from it.

Given all that’s going on, a digital platform that helps develop employee experience, engagement and wellness makes sense. 

The idea is to let companies move away from “work-first hustle cultures” toward sustainability cultures, where people can find fulfillment across their complete lives. Each week, the software prompts participating workers to set an intention that will improve some aspect of their work or life. By turning a dial from 0-100, workers can check in with themselves on their level of fulfillment. At the end of the week, they’re asked to reflect and recognize one thing they’re grateful for as a way to focus on what matters to them.

If they like, employees can choose to share this information with their employer. If they don’t, SPOTLYFE anonymizes the data to help managers get a better understanding of their workforce, not only through the lens of work but as people. It’s self-reported employee sentiment data about the whole human, collected in a safe and secure way that that doesn’t expose the individual.

“A lot of times people prioritize work, and then everything else in their life, and they put themselves last,” said CEO Josh Schwede. “Our platform is designed to drive micro changes in people’s lives. If you just start with one change and do that really well — Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and so on — people can start to drive big changes across their life.”

SPOTLYFE’s goal is to have people use the tool to spot early warning signals for burnout. From there, employees can begin to think about the things they are spending their time on and whether or not that’s driving fulfillment. The company hopes this will result in a more open and honest dialogue between employer and employee, as well as a prioritization of wellness and wellbeing both in and out of the workplace.

Related Article: How Leaders Can Alleviate Workplace Burnout

Putting Action to Words

Tools like SPOTLYFE have the ability to help companies attract and retain talent. By using such tools, employers can show they care about their workers, rather than only the work they do. They offer an opportunity for organizations to show the human side of their work culture, Schwede said.

Programs that prioritize employee wellness and enable companies to take action on employee feedback, anonymized or not, can be testimonial to the company’s commitment to better understanding and supporting its employees. In turn, it can serve as a way to attract employees who are looking for an employer and culture that match their approach to life.

Shwede said it's important to understand that employees who quit their jobs are usually leaving a bad fit, bad manager or bad culture. This means employers who place importance on employees' happiness by leveraging wellness programs and wellbeing tools gain an advantage. “For those who are looking for a position that is purpose-driven or lives in the right culture, this will help with that,” he said.

Of course, using a wellness tool, whether SPOTLYFE or other, won't solve the problem on its own. The real work, Schwede said, has to be done by company leaders, who must make their workplaces a good, healthy environment for everyone.

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