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Here’s How Top Employers are Weaponizing Wellbeing

Putting wellbeing at the center of your employer brand can help you stand out in the war for talent.
By: | June 5, 2019 • 3 min read
Origami fortune teller on vacation at the beach concept for work life balance choices

Take note: a recent Aflac WorkForces report reveals employees who work for businesses with wellness initiatives say they like their jobs more—and 67% say they’re extremely or very likely to recommend their workplace to others. These are really important insights for companies arming up for the recruiting war.

In our hypercompetitive employment market, in which job candidates hold the cards, the race is on to attract and retain top talent. But success is not as simple as offering a solid compensation structure with a comprehensive benefits package, or even a lucrative employee referral bonus.

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Back up and zoom out: The top employers wooing and winning the best of the best are positioning their total rewards within a consistent, well-articulated and culture-driven employer value proposition that employees can’t help but brag about. And you better believe their corporate cultures put a premium on employees’ holistic wellbeing—the piece de resistance to a happy and productive workforce.

Wellbeing=Top Performers’ Definition of Health and Wellness

Still believe employees want those same old wellness initiatives? Don’t make any assumptions based on what mattered 15 or even five years ago, when biometrics defined an employee’s health status and 10,000-step challenges were the preferred road-to-wellness inspiration. Today, employees’ health and wellness goals come in a much wider variety and fit into a more holistic paradigm that includes fitness, mindfulness, sleep hygiene, financial health and nutrition. “Wellbeing” is the modern concept that best captures their interest and loyalty.

They know that despite what traditional health and wellness rhetoric tells them, it takes more than achieving a target BMI or bench press form to feel their best. They also need to take care of their families’ needs, manage stress levels, and sleep at night. For top performers to “perform,” they need the right holistic fuel to sustain their (almost) always-on lifestyles and reach their goals. Wellbeing, and the activities in and outside the workplace that support it, are part of their DNA.

One way to identify your employees’ needs is to simply ask them. Survey Monkey, for instance, conducts a quarterly employee satisfaction and culture survey to find out “what’s going on.” But even more importantly, the company listens to its employees every day, asking them little things like, “What coffee brand should we put in the kitchen?” as well as big things like, “What health benefits matter most to you and your family?”

Heading into Battle with a Wellbeing Culture

Employers are getting the message that their brightest employees expect a wellbeing culture—and employers of choice are making a commitment to it. Indeed, they’re “weaponizing” wellbeing to attract and retain their ideal employees so that more of them will come their way.

Take eBay, for example. Devin Wenig, eBay’s CEO, who has informally adopted the title of Chief Culture Officer, is the perfect example of a leader who’s walking the talk. Wenig believes incredible companies have great culture. Since day one as CEO, he’s not only demonstrated the company’s values through his leadership style, but he also holds his management teams accountable for supporting cultural goals and for defining who eBay is from the inside out.

Happy, healthy and engaged employees are better recruitment-brand ambassadors because they’re living proof of their employer’s EVP: they themselves create the competitive advantage—and, importantly, drive organizational success. When a company clearly connects its employees’ personal values of health, productivity and wellbeing, it transforms HR-speak into corporate strategy. Everything comes full-circle.

Nurturing an employee culture that prioritizes wellbeing meets the needs and expectations of today’s workforce. But you’ve got to mobilize your employees with wellbeing programs, tools and resources if you want to experience measurable results.

Mobilizing with an Actionable Wellbeing Program

Employers can leverage flexible wellbeing solutions specifically designed to support a wide array of interests, abilities and preferences across generational, demographic and geographic boundaries. These can support employees’ goals to improve eating habits, physical fitness, sleep hygiene, stress levels, and even financial wellness—and can arm them with social and subject matter expert support, too, making it easier and more fun to achieve physical, emotional and financial work/life balance.

What’s more, these digital and on-demand solutions deliver the highly personalized and inclusive experiences top talent is demanding. Most importantly, perhaps, weaponized wellbeing leads to real results: employees feel better and are more productive. They live and work feeling supported by their organization’s culture and feel more closely connected to their employer.

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Pinterest has a particularly creative way of engaging employees in living their values. Their company mission is to help people discover the things they love and inspire them to go do those things in their daily lives, so they host “Knit-Con,” an annual two-day event in which employees teach each other cool skills that they know, from hula dancing to wine tasting to coding. It’s a highly engaging and really fun way to connect employees back to their company’s purpose.

Putting a culture of wellbeing at the center of the employer brand creates an attractive EVP: it’s a great talking point during the recruiting process. But it’s really your living, breathing employees—those nurtured by your company’s approach to holistic wellbeing—who shine through for all to see.

Lorna Borenstein is CEO of Grokker.

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