Employees ready to leave jobs if health and wellbeing policies fall short

Friday 13 May 2016, 7:39AM
By PR-ink

One in two professionals would leave their jobs if their wellbeing needs were not met – indicating that effective workplace wellbeing programs are no longer just ‘nice to have’ for employers looking to retain their talent – according to a survey of 2400 professionals across New Zealand and Australia conducted by leading recruitment firm Robert Walters.


Furthermore, for employees who are looking to move on, policies and perks such as flexible work hours, on-site gyms, healthy eating programs and childcare facilities are important considerations when searching for their next role (87% of employees).


On the flipside, in addition to higher turnover rates, employers who are not meeting their employees’ health and wellbeing needs face staggering costs, with absenteeism alone costing businesses an estimated $616 per employee per year (adding up to a $1.45 billion annual cost to the New Zealand economy).[1] One in two (48%) of employees who responded to the survey said they would take more time off if they were experiencing wellbeing issues and did not receive support from their employer; 43% would put less effort in at work; and 26% would start resenting their employer.


Worryingly, the majority of hiring managers underestimate the value that employees place on health and wellbeing: 81% do not believe that employees would leave if their health and wellbeing were not adequately supported.


James Dalrymple, Auckland Director at Robert Walters, said: ‘Some of the world’s most successful and innovative organisations invest great time, energy and resources into creating workplaces that embrace wellness and consider it a vital part of their business strategy.  


‘In Australia and New Zealand, businesses and their employees appreciate the importance of health and wellbeing programs, though many managers may be surprised to find that half of their workforce consider it such a priority that they would consider leaving their employer should their needs not be met. The results indicate that there is ample room for improvement.’


While many medium to large companies have wellbeing programs (64% of those surveyed), only one in three (29%) have a program that is effective, well-implemented and highly utilised.


Around half of hiring managers and employees agree that their organisation’s health and wellbeing practices could be improved (59% of managers and 56% of employees), so they can be better utilised – and a key element of executing a program successfully is how active senior management are in driving and supporting the implementation of the program.


“Staff consultation when developing a health and wellness program is paramount, as it provides businesses with a true understanding of what initiatives are most important to their employees,” explained Robert Walters Wellington Director, Shay Peters. “ Some examples of innovative perks our clients have included in their health and well being programs include; a day off for each employee’s birthday, paid days to volunteer for charities, subsidised gym memberships and sports teams, on-site childcare, health insurance, and one even provides a two hour fortnightly house clean for employees”.


Businesses seeking to improve their existing health and wellbeing programs should consider the following suggestions, which are based on Robert Walters’ research.


Three tips for driving a successful wellness program

- Senior leaders must be seen to be the champions of the program by talking openly about the wellness initiatives and their own experiences with the program.
- Give employees the chance to help drive the workplace wellness program by getting them involved; eg, offering suggestions and implementing the initiatives, and hosting staff discussion groups.
- Actively promote the workplace wellness program internally to existing employees, and externally to potential candidates. Many employees are not aware of what their employers offer; and while the intranet and email are frequently used by organisations to promote their wellness program, management leadership briefings are underutilised.


[1] Statistic sourced from the 2015 Southern Cross Health Group and BusinessNZ survey report.