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Recruitment and HR Blog

Don’t underestimate the importance of your mental health and wellbeing policies to potential applicants

12th May 2021

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Research released in March by Mental Health First Aid England highlighted what you might consider a surprising find: a quarter of respondents hadn’t had their employer check in on them to ask about their mental health and wellbeing since the start of the pandemic. In fact, almost a third of respondents had never even spoken to their manager about their mental health. Despite ongoing efforts to raise its profile through campaigns such as Mental Health Awareness Week it seems that for some employers mental health support isn’t filtering into action at grass roots level.

If, however, you’re one of the employers actively engaging with employee mental health and wellbeing, then that places you at a distinct advantage both from an employee engagement and retention viewpoint and also from a recruitment and talent attraction perspective too. You don’t have to look too far to find evidence of the trend that’s been emerging over the past few years and, thanks to the pandemic, is continuing to accelerate. Employees want to work for employers who regard their health and wellbeing as a genuine priority.

The business case is clear

Employee wellbeing was the top-ranked trend in the 2020 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey[i] with 80% of almost 9,000 survey respondents identifying it as important or very important for their organisation’s success. 2019[ii] research of around 19,000 employees and HR professionals found that health and wellness benefits were ranked second only to working hours and leave in terms of their perceived importance. And in 2018 a study[iii] discovered that 88% of professionals considered an employer’s mental health and wellbeing strategies to be a significant consideration when looking for a new position. Wherever you look, the message is clear: an employer’s approach to mental health and wellbeing matters and affects business success in all kinds of ways.

The impact on talent attraction

Candidates want to apply for positions with employers who treat their employees well and take the initiative when it comes to mental health and wellbeing. If your company becomes known as a business that takes these issues seriously, it’ll enhance your brand in the eyes of those candidates (and quite possibly in the eyes of other external stakeholders too like your customers and local community). But that means you must make sure the good work you’re doing can be seen.

Are you actively promoting what you do?

Be in no doubt, candidates will be doing their research and scrutinising the type of employer you are. So how do you make sure they can find out about what your approach is to mental health and wellbeing? It might be quite clearly defined in your company, and fairly straightforward to articulate as a result. Then again, there might be a lot of great stuff going on - but y haven’t actively thought about it that much.

You might have a culture where coaching and feedback are the norm. Perhaps wellbeing conversations between line managers and employees are pretty standard, and managers are well equipped to keep workloads realistic and spot if someone’s starting to struggle. That’s just the kind of environment many potential applicants would want to work in. So you need to make sure they know about the positive ethos in your company by communicating it throughout all aspects of your recruitment marketing: in your job adverts, throughout your social media, on your website and as part of any other opportunities where you’re connecting with your pool of potential candidates (activities like webinars and exhibitions for instance).

How can you get your wellbeing messages across to attract the talent your business needs?  

So what can you talk about throughout your recruitment marketing to demonstrate your approach to supporting mental health and wellbeing? Here are some ideas.

  • Your strategy and culture

If your company has a strong wellbeing vision, refer to the strategy you have that brings it to life. That might include sharing your mental health and wellbeing policies on your website, along with explanations of what you’re doing and any stories or case studies that paint the picture more clearly. Mention any specific commitments you have made that offer employees greater flexibility and have helped them to achieve an effective work/life balance.

Think broadly and creatively. Do you carry out any activities to tie in with wellbeing awareness weeks that you can talk about? What about the physical environment? With this year’s mental health awareness week adopting the theme of ‘nature’ it’s a reminder of the benefits of having the type of culture where it’s okay for people to take a break by stepping outside and going for a walk for a quick recharge.

  • Health and wellbeing benefits

What kind of health and wellbeing benefits do you offer? Physical health and mental health are closely aligned so you can potentially talk about a range of associated benefits. Private healthcare and employee assistance programmes are two benefits that are becomingly increasingly prominent, offering employees an extensive range of support services and access to treatments to manage their health holistically and deal quickly and effectively with problems.

Other incentives you can mention in your recruitment marketing could include things like gym memberships and subsidised healthy food options - these kinds of details will all help your company stand out from the crowd.

  • What else could you include?  

If you need more ideas about what to draw out in your job adverts and recruitment marketing, as well as even potentially refresh your approach to wellbeing, you might find this recent research from the CIPD interesting.  From health promotion activities such as on-site exercise classes to employee support and protection initiatives including financial wellbeing guidance and access to counselling, there are many ideas that offer inspiration.

Finally - don’t overlook the benefit of employee advocacy. Happy employees are a fantastic advert for your company being a great place to work so encourage them to share their positive wellbeing stories too.

Are you standing out as an employer of choice?

By highlighting your commitment and approach to taking care of your employees’ mental health and wellbeing throughout your recruitment marketing, you’ll ensure you’re standing out as an employer of choice when it comes to attracting great people. If you’d like more specific guidance about how you can position your job advertising to attract the ideal applicants for your vacancies, talk to us to find out how we can help you.