A headshot of a woman with dark hair smiling at the camera.
Louise Shannon. Image: PwC

Employers need to focus on total wellness to retain talent

31 Jan 2023

PwC’s Louise Shannon explains how leaders need to think about wellness reward packages to attract and retain staff.

In a tight labour market for many skills and with inflationary pressures impacting the cost of living, employee demands for more competitive compensation and benefits packages are on the rise.

Recent trends show organisations are increasing salaries and benefits to attract and retain employees. While competitive reward packages are vital to finding and keeping the pivotal talent that organisations need, a focus on total wellness will bring greater returns for the organisation beyond retention in the form of enhanced productivity and sustained performance.

We define total wellness as a combination of six factors: physical, emotional, mental, social, career and financial wellness. In repurposing how you deliver and view reward by aligning with these six factors, you are putting individuals at the centre with a reward offering rooted in holistic wellness.

Employees want to work for employers who care about and support their wellbeing. In PwC’s recent Global Workforce Survey, 60pc of employees consider wellbeing one the most important factors to consider when thinking about a job change.

Organisations implementing this new approach, with the focus on total wellness, are best positioned to attract, engage and retain top talent

The total reward approach to date has provided a blend of monetary and non-monetary rewards offered to employees using a traditional ‘top-down’ mechanism.

We see the future state as a personalised, bottom-up approach that uses total reward as a vehicle to deliver total wellness. Employees want personal benefits with the freedom to choose based on their own needs and wants.

To do this, employers need to understand preferences at the individual level, with the list of options reflecting an understanding of the wellness needs of every single employee, not just employee groups.

Employers need to listen to their employees

Given the diverse workforce of today, it has become evident that employees’ needs and preferences vary greatly. The one aspect in common is that employees want their employers to listen to them and most importantly to take action.

PwC’s Global Workforce Survey identified that two in three employees said they feel their voice is not heard or listened to by their manager or employer, which may have a devastating impact on retention.

Data-driven insights from broad and inclusive listening are critical elements to creating flexible and accessible rewards programs that align employee preferences with their total wellness.

Five key considerations

There are five key questions organisations should ask themselves when providing employees with a comprehensive and personalised total reward offering to deliver on the promise of total wellness.

Does our total reward strategy promote the total wellness of employees?

It is critical that organisations take a fresh look at their reward strategy to ensure it aligns with the evolving workforce and optimises financial and non-financial rewards to enhance total wellness.

Are we effectively engaging and retaining our top talent?

By listening to employees and understanding their preferences towards their total wellness, you can tailor the reward programs to their needs and priorities.

How does our total reward strategy enhance workforce productivity?

A holistic focus on employee wellness that creates the right work environment to support employees will lead to higher engagement, increased morale and lower turnover.

What is the return on our reward investment?

By assessing the perceived value of reward entitlements to people you can drive optimisation and reduce ‘sunk costs’ to improve the overall return on investment in employee rewards.

Are we considering employee preferences in our total reward decisions?

Individual preferences will change over time and a reward offering that evolves to suit the changing needs of the employee will deliver the greatest value.

Failing to act will lead to poor business outcomes

Failing to act on total wellness can lead to poor business, people and societal outcomes. For example, PwC’s recent Employee Financial Wellness Survey identified that 76pc of stressed employees say financial worries have had a negative impact on their productivity.

Poor mental wellness can result in higher levels of absenteeism and the lack of future career development remains a key driver of employee attrition.

Today, with employee populations becoming more heterogeneous, attracting, retaining and motivating employees through standardised approaches to rewards simply isn’t working.

By focusing on the six elements of total wellness, physical, emotional, mental, social, career and financial, and using the right personalised approach to suit each employee, organisations will deliver the greatest value to employees.

By Louise Shannon

Louise Shannon is a senior manager in the people and organisation practice in PwC.

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