What retains top talent? Experts say wellness is a jobseeker perk

The battle for talent across the country hasn’t been this intense since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits is at its lowest level since December 1969, according to Labor Department figures. More tellingly, people who do lose their jobs are getting snapped up quickly: The number of people who received initial jobless claims after their first week of aid (i.e., continuing claims” among economists) is the lowest it’s been since 1973.

Business is booming, talent is in short supply and the Law of Supply and Demand is still in effect: Employers are beefing up their employer value propositions and boosting compensation and other benefits in order to attract and retain talent.

Boosting cash compensation – salary and hourly wages – is one obvious way to do it. But relying on cash compensation alone has two major drawbacks:

  1. It’s expensive;
  2. It attracts people who will jump ship the minute another employer across town offers more.

Successful employers are offering more than money: They are differentiating themselves by offering a better workplace culture. Among the most cost-effective ways to do so: Promote a culture and corporate brand of wellness, fitness and activity.

It’s important – especially for younger workers. Consider:

This last metric is key: Fit, active people tend to hang out with other fit, active people. It’s one of the reasons they are fit and active. If your corporate culture attracts health-conscious, active people, they will tend to refer others like them.

Changing the Culture

In order to realize the positive fiscal effects of a healthier work force on medical claims, workers compensation claims, productivity, presenteeism and absenteeism, it helps to change the culture of your organization, internally – and from an external point of view, change your brand as an employer to one that emphasizes health, fitness and an active lifestyle.

After a few hiring cycles and given natural turnover rates, with healthier employees referring relatively healthy people in their social groups to work with you, imagine the effect of a self-selected group of relatively healthy individuals, with relatively low health care utilization rates (except for those pesky motorcycle racers and helicopter skiers!)

Changing your employer brand.

To this end, implementing a quality wellness program that’s tailored and relevant for your own unique workforce is a great start. But what do prospective employees see when they look your company up on social media?

This is something you can control. For example,

  • Organize outdoor events, and participate in charity walks. Get your photographers there and get your photos up on your company Facebook and Instagram pages. Add them to the “careers” section on your website and in all your advertising.
  • If you have on-site fitness resources or activities, say so – and photograph your people engaging in these as well.
  • List your wellness benefits along with your health insurance and retirement benefits on your ‘careers’ page.
  • Put photos of diverse active and fit employees on every page of your site. Market yourself to healthy people, or at least people who aspire to health.

The difference: Establishing regard for fitness and well-being as part of your culture, and broadcasting that through managing your employer brand helps ensure you’re bringing in the right kind of people to your hiring office: Ones who fit in with your corporate culture, who’ve already been pre-screened and recommended by employees who understand your corporate culture and who have referred them, and who are less likely to job hop when someone comes along offering them a little more money.

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