In the past, businesses typically dictated all the terms of employment. Companies defined everything from compensation to when and where employees worked.
Today, things are more nuanced. Employees and job candidates have more options than ever before. Increasingly, candidates want more than a paycheck: they crave work-life balance, and many prioritize their mental health and well-being more than money.
To stay relevant in the market and attract top talent, employers need to prioritize company culture, job satisfaction, and personal well-being for their employees. They can rely on internal and external support to create a company where people want to work.
Put Employees First
As business owners, employees are our greatest asset. But sometimes organizations forget employees aren’t just productivity machines: they’re people with human needs and desires.
“Great Attrition, Great Attraction 2.0,” a 2022 McKinsey study of 13,382 employees worldwide, noted employees experiencing burnout were six times more likely to plan to leave their jobs within the next three to six months. Replacing these employees can be costly, with some estimates as much as twice the employee’s annual salary. That estimate doesn’t account for losing knowledge, plus trusted workplace relationships and processes they were part of.
As leaders, we can help combat workplace stress and frustration by creating a company culture where people are recognized and feel valued. According to “Unleashing the Human Element at Work,” a 2022 Gallup and Workhuman survey of 7,636 U.S. adults, employees who receive recognition at work are four times as likely to be engaged and three times more likely to feel loyal to the organization, with 56% reporting they're less likely to look for a new job.
Prioritizing employees' mental health and well-being is good business. But it’s also good branding.
Leverage Your Brand
As business leaders, we need high-performing employees who bring their whole selves to work. Having the mental energy to collaborate and innovate means employees are more likely to think creatively and outperform the competition.
But to get that, we need to thoughtfully demonstrate the values and characteristics we hope to attract. This is especially true for companies looking to recruit diverse talent. For many employees – including women, women of color, young workers, and people with disabilities – workplace stress and anxiety are on the rise. To hire and retain a diverse workforce, we need to support work-life balance, provide avenues for growth and mobility, and offer tangible benefits that support their mental health and well-being.
As leaders, we can help combat workplace stress and frustration by creating a company culture where people are recognized and feel valued.
Great branding is essential for telling this story. Take advantage of your marketing team's knowledge and ability to help extend your public-facing brand into an authentic employer brand that celebrates mental health. Give them the tools, support, and freedom to create materials new candidates and existing employees will be enthusiastic to discover.
Sometimes teams can be hindered by internal practices or “how we’ve always done things.” Employer branding is a perfect opportunity for marketing and human resources to collaborate. Another option is to work with a consultant or agency to breathe new life into your company culture. If you decide to work with a fresh pair of eyes, look for someone who specializes in employer branding and whose mission aligns with the values you want to promote.
Building a brand that prioritizes mental health is vital in attracting and retaining high-performing, engaged employees to help drive our companies forward.
Be Thoughtful and Flexible
Supporting mental health in the workplace requires a thoughtful approach. Meditation apps and gym memberships might be helpful perks, but employees also need a safe place to call out sick, flexible schedules allowing time with family and doctor visits, and a supportive work environment day-to-day. Importantly, the initiatives companies undertake will vary: some businesses may not be able to provide expensive perks like telehealth or grocery delivery, while others may struggle to accommodate flexible hours or shared workspaces.
But the one thing all businesses can do is practice what we preach, be mindful of what our employees need to be healthy and successful, and always be learning, trying new approaches, and asking for feedback.
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