In 2013 70 million working days were lost in the UK as a result of employee absence from work due to anxiety, stress and depression – a 24% increase since 2009. The total estimated financial cost to the UK economy was £70-100 billion.
Latest figures suggest that one in four people will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives. This is a very real problem for employers which impacts talent acquisition and retention strategies across the globe. In the UK Virgin Media’s chief people officer has urged companies not to overlook senior staff in health and safety issues, citing high stress levels among executives caused by long working hours and a lack of attention to their own physical health.
The role of HR in employee well-being
HR has a vital role to play in raising awareness of mental health issues in the workplace by creating an open dialogue between company leadership and its employees. Forward thinking employers have already begun to implement policies to achieve this, for example:-
Create an open environment : Employees must feel confident enough to discuss the issues affecting them without fear of being stigmatised. Over half of all HR departments now engage with their employees to discuss mental wellbeing, with 43% offering counselling helplines.
Focus on physical as well as mental health : The CIPD offers well-being days to promote positive mental and physical health which include Reiki, social clubs and exercise classes.
Acknowledge health problems : With 2.5 million people now living with cancer in the UK, the majority of HR departments support free cancer checks. Increased awareness of sleep deprivation is another area where HR can quickly identify problems. The symptoms of a lack of sleep include increased distraction, forgetfulness, making more mistakes, difficulties in concentrating and longer reaction times.
Improving employee engagement
While progress is being made, underlying issues such as employee engagement must be addressed. Gallup rank the UK 11th for ‘purpose well being’ with only 17% of the UK workforce reportedly engaged in their work. The effects of this lack of engagement extend to increased levels of employee absence and the subsequent negative impact on talent acquisition.
Improving employee engagement levels must go hand-in-hand with well-being policies. The following steps offer a starting point to improve engagement:-
- Engage in conversations that matter. Include employee opinions through surveys to find out what staff think. If you don’t operate an inclusive culture, your employees will take to online recruitments site to share their opinions.
- Show gratitude and rewards for employees who go that extra mile – a simple thank you goes a long way.
- Give your employees more flexibility over their working time. The right to flexible working was introduced in the UK during 2014. Flexible working doesn’t always mean working from home; it can mean job share, staggered time or working around term-time.
- Agree a benefits package with defined objectives that align with company goals and can be easily incorporated into your talent acquisition strategy.
- Create a sense of purpose. Begin by asking just one question – do your employees understand your company vision and their role in achieving it?
- Communicate your employer brand across all e-recruitment, social media channels and careers site supported by recruiting software. Recruitment analytics will provide relevant data on how well you’re performing on these issues.
A happy, engaged workforce leads to increased hiring success and attracts more talent to your brand. Implementing a positive culture will also create more motivated and engaged employees with a greater sense of wellbeing.
Well-being at work must be a priority for companies serious about talent acquisition and retention. Support your strategies with sophisticated recruiting software that allows you to focus on areas that matter. Talk to Advorto today.
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