Why Employee Wellbeing is Essential to Retention
Jack Davies, April 20th 2022


When it comes to retention there’s one thing for certain, it isn’t as straightforward as some employers think - this is equally as true for wellbeing initiatives in the workplace. 

To put it simply, healthier employees are happier employees. And that’s often reflected in both productivity and performance. One study carried out by Economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness made employees 12% more productive.

We’ve examined exactly why leaders and HR professionals need to adopt wellbeing in the workplace. Especially if they are serious about improving retention levels for their business. Something incredibly important in the ever-changing landscape of modern recruitment.

Post-pandemic demand for workplace wellbeing on retention 

Now, more than ever, employees are looking to leaders for support with healthier lifestyles. This appears to be a growing trend inspired by the recent pandemic. One that forced a lot of people to rethink how they lead their lives, and what changes they can make to enhance personal health and wellbeing.

With remote work, many employees found themselves with more money in their pockets and time on their hands. And for many, it became a no-brainer to focus on improving themselves. 

Although fitness facilities closed during the lockdown, some gym operators recovered extremely quickly in the aftermath of 2020. Further demonstrating just much of a demand the health and wellbeing space has seen since COVID-19.

At its peak, many employees found themselves struggling with their mental health. And despite a lot of leaders stepping in and ramping up their support, some have since reduced their efforts. What they failed to realise was the stigma that haunted employees around these discussions had improved, and a new openness in society has begun to take place. 

In the last quarter of November 2021, the highest figures were reported for people departing from their current jobs - with figures in the 4.5M region. This couldn’t have been more coincidental with the workplace environment at the time. 

In the latter half of 2021, thousands of businesses returned to their desks, some chose to go hybrid, and others remote-first. Creating chaos amongst employees who felt hard done by. A lot were expecting to remain remote due to its clear benefits on work-life balance. 

Fast-forward to this year, and people are searching for an employee benefits package that considers mental health, wellbeing and fitness. Not only that, many employees want to design their own tailored package. Proving the future of employee benefits focuses on personalisation. 

If employers are serious about employee retention and wellbeing, the pandemic will have been a learning curve. The foundation for a better future ahead.

Younger generations make up the largest segment of employees

Looking further into the future, the workforce as we know it is changing. Millennials and Gen Z employees are beginning to make up the largest segment in offices across the globe. By 2025, it’s expected that 75% of the workforce will be made up of millennials. 

So, what do younger generations of workers have to do with wellbeing and retention? As it’s often reported, millennials and Gen Z are more health-conscious than their parents and grandparents and spend much more on healthcare, fitness and wellbeing.

Not only have millennials been deemed the ‘Wellness generation’ in some cases, but Millennials value the importance of wellness at 53%, compared to their career at 23%. Ultimately, this generation of workers expects more from their professional lives in the way of health and wellbeing. 

When it comes to employee retention, failure to follow these trends can result in a lot of people simply leaving. What these statistics also prove, is just how insignificant career progression can be without a healthy work-life balance. 

As we navigate the next couple of years, companies will need to sink or swim with their employee experience and incentives. We need only look at the innovative businesses of the world for a glimpse into the right way to manage and lead people. 

Take a look at companies like Google, Starbucks, and Salesforce, all of which offer a diverse and wide-ranging list of benefits. Extensive healthcare, campus gym facilities, access to massage therapists and more. 

The tide is beginning to turn for burnout culture 

It almost feels like ‘burnout culture’ has reached boiling point. The world is busy, a lot of people are glued to their inboxes, and employees are jumping ship left, right and centre.

In recent years, ‘hustle’ culture has become a prevalent trend on social media. Yet, these platforms allow us to show only what we want. And for many influencers, all we see is hard work and dedication. It’s the lack of sleep and general poor wellbeing we probably aren’t seeing beyond the glamorous posts. 

Going back to the points made above, however, the pandemic has begun to shift society’s definitions of hard work and success. People are coming forward about their burnout symptoms, and forward-thinking employers are listening and responding. 

It is still early days, and burnout culture hasn’t shown any sign of slowing down in the past year. Although sooner or later, and due to a combination of the reasons mentioned in this article, workplaces will need to embrace a culture of wellbeing

If nearly 40% of companies expanded their mental health initiatives during the peak of COVID-19, what can be achieved in the coming years? With enough push from employees for healthier lifestyles, as we’re already seeing, burnout culture is destined to be eradicated. 

At the start of 2022, the team at Heka made some big predictions in their Wellness Trends report, and how they envision wellbeing taking shape in the workplace. It’s in these predictions that we will see changes happening, both small and large. But ultimately, these trends will play a role in the shift from burnout to wellbeing for workers.

Final Thoughts

The workplace is evolving. The people-centric approach that employees have always deserved is beginning to emerge and it’s only a matter of time before prioritising wellbeing is the norm. What once felt like a downward spiral in happiness and wellbeing at work, is taking on a new meaning. One that supports people to do their best work, while leading a better life.

Whether it’s financial wellbeing, digital wellbeing, mental health support, female health, physical fitness or so many other factors that have suffered in the world of work, the next few years will prove to be revolutionary. And in every sense, the team at Heka fully supports this.

Find out more about what we do at Heka here.

Credit: Alex Hind is the CEO and co-founder of Heka - an employee wellbeing platform providing thousands of wellbeing experiences, services and products to employees in the UK.


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