Why wellbeing is key to stopping your talent walking out of the door

As the ‘Great Resignation’ continues unabated, making employees feel cared for could be the key to retaining them, says Louise Abbs

Few organisations are exempt from the current talent crisis, with the number of job vacancies continuing to rise at an alarming level. With many employees opting to leave the workforce altogether, going on a recruitment drive isn’t the answer, meaning that retaining the talent you’ve already got is more important than ever.

When it comes to the factors driving people to leave their jobs, our recent research shows that most people are feeling overloaded. Indeed, two-fifths of employees said working for their employer had undermined their health or made them sick. A worrying two-thirds of employees said they were fatigued or burned out, and three-quarters were stressed. 

With employee loyalty rapidly emerging as the new measuring stick for ESG, the research also found good wellbeing support made two-thirds of employees less likely to want to work elsewhere. Consequently, making people feel more cared for could be the key to retaining them.

In terms of how employees want to be looked after, proactive measures to help employees stay healthy are proving to be more popular than reactive measures to help them recover when they get sick. Many employers now offer initiatives such as mini fatigue assessments. These give workers the insights and confidence they need to push back when their health depends on it, as well as help to boost their resilience by ensuring they’re eating and sleeping properly and getting fresh air breaks during times of high pressure.

Another way of helping employees to stay healthy is to conduct regular pulse surveys or analyse Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) trend data and exit interviews to consider what issues are undermining wellbeing and the business overall. For example, if high stress levels aren’t causing people to become sick but are causing them to leave, how much is that costing in terms of recruitment, training and reputation? It costs around £30,000 on average to replace an employee, so factor that in when deciding which issues to prioritise.

Perhaps one of the biggest issues driving poor wellbeing, and the desire of individuals to want to get away from the pressures, is the extent to which busy managers have forgotten the personal aspects of people management. With so much focus on targets and increasingly tight deadlines, we all need to take a step back and build in time for self-care, or even just some time to go outside during daylight hours.

However, people will take their lead from their manager – and if that manager is working flat out, the message is: “This is what it takes to get on here”. Train managers how to create a healthy working environment and their role in that – from how realistic the deadlines they’re setting are to how easy it is for people to draw a line between work and home when they’re not meant to be working.

Managers are also best placed to pick up when someone is starting to feel overwhelmed, so need to be trained to conduct check-in chats. Instead of just talking shop and asking someone how their project is going, these chats should be about asking the individual how they are on a personal level, showing the caring face of the organisation. Many managers already have it in them to do this – but they worry they will become responsible for advising the employee if they open up about a personal problem. Yet once managers understand it’s not their role to counsel the employee, but it is their role to listen, show empathy and signpost to the support services in place, they can become empowered to become a mental health leader. This will dramatically increase how loyal their team feels towards them, and also the organisation as a whole. 

Louise Abbs is managing director of PAM Wellbeing