By George Chaytor-Norris, co-founder, youdo
The debate around the ‘Great Resignation’ continues to rumble on as employers and staff adjust to life after the pandemic. And it’s clear that being able to retain your best talent – while being able to attract new recruits – is still something that preoccupies business leaders.
But when it comes to solving this talent pool conundrum, simply increasing salaries isn’t enough. Our recent Healthy People, Healthy Planet survey found that while 84% of workers said they were satisfied with their jobs, 92% said they had considered throwing in the towel and doing something else.
Or to put it another way, while employees seem happy with what they’re doing, they also have an appetite for something else, for something more meaningful from their working life. Our research found that pay rises and perks only go so far in satiating that craving. When we dug deeper, we found that 91% of employees told us they cared about their mental wellbeing and physical health; 85% told us they wanted to work for a company that cares about its impact on the environment; while 88% said they wanted to work for a company with a purpose beyond profit.
Of course, employers could simply ignore this shift and continue with traditional approaches. But as a new progressive generation joins the workforce, this is unlikely to work long-term.
Which is why forward-thinking employers are increasingly listening to staff and addressing these issues, creating an environment that is better placed to maintain a healthy, motivated, and fully staffed workforce.
By tapping into issues such as personal wellbeing, the environment, and societal change for good, employees can connect with each other – and their employer – at a much deeper and fulfilling level, helping to drive job satisfaction, employee engagement and staff retention.
To make this happen, employers need to consider four key things.
1. Define the company’s wellbeing beyond the balance sheet
For companies to succeed in today’s world they need to account for more than just their profit and losses (P&L). Organisations need to listen to their staff and develop a corporate soul. After all, people who care about the environment or social issues don’t stop caring when they come to work. It’s part of their DNA.
So, if businesses want to connect with their staff to create a bond, it makes sense to embrace environmental and social responsibility. And not as an afterthought, siloed annual activity or bolt-on. It needs to be led by the C-suite and supported by HR and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) teams, with employees involved at every stage.
2. Think beyond typical benefits
Gym memberships, bring-your-pet-to-work days, and free smoothies are all used as incentives to attract and retain staff. And while the lure of free concert tickets or a weekend glamping trip with colleagues may work for some, for many, these simply lack the substance that people are demanding.
Instead, in-work benefits could involve giving staff time off to work on projects they care about. Volunteering at a food bank, repairing a children’s playground, helping to remove plastic from beaches or using professional skills to help improve literacy or computer skills for those who have been out of work for a long time – these all help to define who we are as individuals.
Whether this is done collectively or as a team project, the sense of achievement – coupled with the good that comes from it – far outweighs any run-of-the-mill benefit.
3. Transforming the workplace to create a sense of belonging
As in any relationship, for organisations to successfully engage with employees, meaningful conversations are a must. After all, when it comes to the environment or progressive issues, employees know the difference between employers that are fully engaged – and those that are merely paying lip service. That’s why it’s important to ask staff about the issues that are important to them.
According to our research, if the issue matters to staff, then employers will have no problem recruiting volunteers to run, manage and organise projects. And by harnessing this enthusiasm, employers are empowering staff to take responsibility for issues that mean something. Again, these aren’t just bolt-on activities that can be switched on and off. They become embedded into the rhythm of the organisation helping to cement staff loyalty and contentedness.
4. Measuring and communicating achievements
The good news is that such schemes can dovetail with an organisation’s own ESG policies underscoring its own progressive ambitions. By delivering measurable evidence of a company’s positive impact on the planet for investors, regulators, and stakeholders, it can further help drive measurable employee engagement.
As part of that, it’s important to communicate and share your involvement and success. After all, employees don’t want these projects to be isolated or kept under wraps. They want them talked about and discussed both internally and externally. Why? Because these projects help define their employer as a company that cares about the world and its people.
By rethinking what it means to run – and work for – an organisation, there is a real opportunity to embrace a new and long-lasting approach to working relationships. By connecting wellbeing, social responsibility and sustainability through an app and measuring its impact on the world, organisations have the opportunity to create a happier, healthier, and more engaged workforce. By recognising the importance of placing employees at the centre of an organisation, not only does this benefit the business, but society and the planet.