The challenges and transformations we collectively faced over the past years have redefined the meaning of work and a successful career. Organizations should now have the means and the incentive to evolve from simply offering a good salary and benefits to designing a workspace and culture where people thrive.

“Companies are under the microscope to see how they’re going to lead with empathy and how they’re treating their people. Also, employees are speaking up about how they are being treated”, confirms Jennifer Paxton, co-founder of Smile.io and former VP of Talent in Erudit’s ShockwaveTalk.

The data confirms that those who fail to accept this truth face high turnover rates. On the contrary, companies that take employees’ happiness, wellness, and engagement into consideration can not only retain their talent, which could save them millions of dollars, but also boost performance.

So how can organizations beat turnover as well as embolden a culture where employees are happy and excited to work, innovate, and collaborate? Let’s hear from enthusiastic people leaders and recruitment rockstars!

It starts with the recruiting process

The first step to keeping your talent is to match the most suitable candidates to the different positions within your organization. Remote and hybrid work models are here to stay, and there are pros and cons when it comes to recruiting in this new landscape. On the one hand, we have a much larger talent pool to choose from, but on the other, this means that candidates' response to a job post can be overwhelming. This can be exhausting both for recruiters and for candidates, who also apply for multiple positions. Michael Brown, VP of Global Talent at Snyk, suggests a time-zone limitation as the first filter. “Having too many time zones can make you have disconnected teams. It is also very expensive to hire people around the globe,” Michael explains.

Recruiters also need to build accurate and detailed job descriptions that attract candidates who can truly bring value to the work and the team. Make sure the job description answers these questions:

  • What are the needs that the company wants to fulfill through the role?
  • What experience and skill-set is required for the position?
  • What are the non-negotiables? Include the personal qualities candidates should possess.

Jennifer advises to get everyone that will take part in the process (other interviewers, the hiring manager, etc.) involved in this early stage. She says, “It is a great opportunity for managers to find out the gaps in their teams and how a potential hire could fill those gaps from an experience or background level.” It also helps build a seamless recruiting experience for candidates. 

Next up is the interview process! The interview process is an essential step in making sure you hire the best candidate for the job. It is important to be transparent and clear about the expectations of the role and what resources will be offered to the applicant. Doing so will encourage the candidate to be honest with themselves and with you, so that you can ensure that the person selected is the perfect fit.

Finally, Michael suggests that once you have made a decision, you should move fast to make an offer to express the organization’s commitment and enthusiasm to have the new hire on board. 

Building a culture of wellness and wellbeing

“Most leaders know that their biggest investment is their people, so if you are gonna spend a lot of money on bringing people onboard, you better build the culture and the community that is gonna engage those people and put the right resources and tools so that they can be successful and continue to build their careers”, says Jennifer.

Research shows that engaged employees are more productive and stay in the company for the long run. Therefore, strategies aiming to achieve high rates of engagement are the way to go. And the workforce of today wants to work for companies that show commitment to the work their employees do and that also put in place strategies with a positive impact on their wellness and wellbeing. Here’s how:

Steps to put in place strategies for wellness and wellbeing

1. Budgeting

The first thing is to normalize employee wellbeing as another business need that requires investment. Many companies have sincere intentions when it comes to implementing wellbeing and wellness programs, but don’t follow through when it comes to shelling out the funds to implement them.

Companies should devote a budget line to wellness and wellbeing programs. They should consider employee wellness and wellbeing as a priority just like they consider departments such as Sales, Marketing, etc. These strategies should be implemented from the start, with the very first employee. It helps establish a strong company culture, free of bad habits.

As a business owner, Jennifer makes it crystal clear, “I want to run a company that is built around the wellbeing of employees as part of the overall strategy of the business”. 

2. Promote clear communication and get your workforce’s pulse

Culture is not static. It evolves and adapts as the number of employees grow and the organization faces new challenges. Michael says, “It starts with setting strong expectations up front. Talking about what your company is and what your company isn’t, talking about what your company values and where they draw a hard line in the sand. Those things help the employee understand whether they will feel included.” 

A transparent communication flow with the workforce includes feedback. Employees should also be asked about their expectations, what makes them come back to work everyday, why they stay with the company. Taking both sides into consideration helps you build an employee value proposition where everyone feels included.

Here’s a tip from Jennifer: whether you use surveys or software that helps you measure your workforce sentiment, implement them from day one and on a regular basis. Make it part of your employees’ regular duties. Michael agrees with this, as it reduces friction within the organization. It also reinforces the message that you care and that your company culture is actually based on clear communication and feedback. 

3. Build retention strategies around these areas

Once both the company’s and employees’ expectations are clear and the communication flows in both directions, you can implement programs around the following areas:

Secure each employee’s work-life balance.

Michael and Jennifer’s experience on recruitment and retention over the years points to the importance of a work-life balance for the long term success of every organization. Flexibility is the way to go. A company that offers remote and hybrid work, flexible working hours, extra paid time off or a 4-day work week is more likely to have engaged and productive employees. Productivity is not linked to a 40-hour work week, but rather to a balance between personal life and work. 

Provide the right tools and resources.

Employees need to understand that the work they are doing is meaningful. A way to promote this is to provide them with all that is required to achieve goals. This shows commitment to their work and the company’s involvement in their success to continue to build their career. 

Give employees the chance to grow.

In the midst of the recent layoffs, many employees have decided to remain in their current positions, opting for the safe approach. Michael, however, sees this as an ideal moment to help these individuals further their careers within the company, and not just survive, but thrive. He understands that this is a perfect time to create a secure and stable environment in which employees can continue to grow. By offering a supportive and encouraging workplace and career-oriented opportunities, he hopes to keep morale and enthusiasm high, and provide a positive and inviting atmosphere for current and future employees.

Recognize achievements

Especially in times of uncertainty, it's important to recognize the amazing job that employees are doing. Let them know that their efforts are appreciated and valued. Doing so can help to provide reassurance and contribute to their overall happiness. Knowing that their hard work and dedication to their job is appreciated can make a world of difference during, especially during difficult times.

Enable middle-management.

Provide your managers with the tools and the training to become good, compassionate leaders. Whether they grew within the organization as individual contributors or hired to fill in leadership roles, they are crucial influencers in creating your positive and thriving work culture. Invest in your leaders, in encouraging good habits, and in their work relationship with their teams. As Jennifer says, “people usually leave bad managers, not companies.”

Conclusion

People have redefined the role a company, employers, and managers play in their lives. An organization is now expected to put the wellness and wellbeing of employees first, from financial wellness to social and emotional wellness.

We are living through a paradigm shift where employees expect more from the organizations they work for. Companies are starting to understand that they can and must contribute to their employees’ happiness if they want to retain their talent and keep them engaged. As more leaders realize that their employees’ wellbeing has a direct impact on the bottom line, the first thing they have to start doing is allocating a budget directed to developing wellness and wellbeing programs. Then, they have to begin listening and building strategies based on the insights, aligning employee needs with company goals.

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