Wellbeing: Has it changed the focus for Employers attraction and retention strategies?

Some sceptics argue that ‘reward’ is much more ‘numbers, pay pensions and analytics’ and doesn’t really address the people element of HR that other functions do, more so the reward function is mostly ‘data geeks’ and ‘finance’ types who care more about headcount cost and spend than about the individuals who make up the headcount.

Of course this is an uninformed view which more typically describes the stereotypical opinion of days gone past. As any reward, indeed HR professional will know, reward is an integral part of any business, both from an overarching profit generation and individual person experience perspective. From the creation of total reward statements, employee engagement and enablement to performance management, all reward policies are implemented to achieve shareholder/board member and employee satisfaction.

One such area of reward to address these two groups, at an increasingly rapid pace, is Wellbeing.

On the 13th April Charlotte Faktor, from the Frazer Jones Professional Services interim team hosted a Mindfulness seminar lead by a Mindfulness Trainer, Alexander Irving. The event was oversubscribed and included attendees all aspect of HR, many in senior leadership positions, which in itself really drives home the importance of employees emotions, thoughts and feelings.

Companies have realised that the performance of the firm and the individual is directly linked to the array of Wellbeing programs designed to address the issue of and alleviate mental health related incidents, such as stress. Interestingly, according to data collated for 2013, Mental ill-health is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, accounting for 70 million sick days each year, more than half of the annual total (130 million).

Hence how has Wellbeing changed employees views of a potential or current company? In short the workforce is becoming more diverse, in age, gender and race, so businesses need to evolve their offering to cater for all.

A move from ‘thinking’ to ‘sensing’ mind-sets has been introduced in companies such as Google, TFL, Goldman Sachs and General Mills. This method aims to predict and deal with possible issues before they arise, realising that stress, for example, can affect those who are successful in their role as well as those under pressure to perform. Employers are therefore beginning to go that one step further, prevention before the cure, where ultimately the worst case scenario can be devasting.

Frazer Jones launched the HR Handbook in April, a study built after responses from over 2,000 HR professionals which attempted to ask questions to challenge the status quo and delve into the thoughts of HR practitioners; What they thought of their profession, what are the issues, how could they be fixed and what does the future hold in their eyes for HR. Fascinatingly but unsurprisingly Millennials pin pointed the working environment such as leisure facilities and subsidised/free lunches above equity or share schemes, mirroring their desire to progress and therefore not always seeing the ‘here and now’ as part of their long term career.

So has Wellbeing replaced the significance of salary, bonuses and brand when people consider their career path? No, but could the lack of an attractive Wellbeing package could be the nail in the coffin where two or more options are compared, a regular occurrence in today’s market for exceptional talent? Definitely.

You only have to look at the influx of requests and assignments we have seen of late, that specifically focus on the Wellbeing element of a Benefits function, to support the surge of prominence for employers to understand and look after their workforce. I can only conclude that ignoring this trend exposes your company to being left behind in the race for talent.

To discuss your approach to Wellbeing or to request a copy of the 2016/2017 HR Handbook please contact me