With one in four people reportedly planning to leave their job, as the great resignation continues, making employees feel cared for is key to retaining them.

Last year, two-thirds of employees experienced fatigue or burnout, while two-fifths said working for their employer undermined their health. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that a quarter of employees are now planning to leave their jobs.

For those employers worried about retaining talent, the solution could lie in the problem, with our Health at Work Report revealing that good wellbeing support made two-thirds of employees less likely to want to work elsewhere.

Proactive measures to help employees stay healthy were more popular than reactive measures to help them recover if they got sick. So here are three ways to proactively make your people feel more cared for to make them less likely to want to leave.

1. Catch people before they fall

Employees want help to stay healthy, with research carried out for our Health at Work Report revealing that help to sustain a good work-life balance is seen as twice as important as paid for healthcare benefits, such as health insurance.

Similarly, one in three people say a supportive manager is important for helping them to stay healthy. Yet just one in two people feels able to talk to busy managers about their mental health. Even though mental health issues, such as work-related stress and anxiety, remain the biggest factor undermining employee wellbeing, affecting seven out of ten employees.

All of which requires empowering people to reach out for support before they become adversely affected. Not least because mental health issues are like a chip in a windscreen: easy to repair when caught early, but much more likely to splinter into something more difficult to resolve if ignored.

Proactive interventions our clients have found useful range from mini-fatigue assessments, which a busy government department used to reduce levels of fatigue by 40%, to our employee wellbeing app. This allows individuals to set their own unique wellbeing goals and create the positive behaviours needed to achieve them, be this the desire to become more active, eat more healthily, reduce negative thought patterns or improve sleep.

2. Use wellbeing as a measuring stick

If your organisation thinks the aim of helping people to stay healthy is simply to reduce sickness absence, it’s time to help them think again. Research carried out for our Health at Work Report shows that while wellbeing support does indeed make employees twice as likely not to take sick leave, it also makes them more loyal and productive.

Think about the business objectives you want to achieve. If high levels of stress aren’t causing people to become sick, but are causing them to leave, how much is that costing in terms of recruitment, training and reputation? On average, it costs around £25,000 to replace a skilled employee, so factor that in when deciding which issues to prioritise.

Look at data sources, ranging from engagement surveys and Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) usage to exit interview feedback and employee forums. Consider what wellbeing issues there are, how much this is costing the business and what to prioritise.

With employee wellbeing rapidly becoming a new measuring stick for the health of the organisation, you might also want to think about those wellbeing measures you want to report on to both internal and external stakeholders, as part of your overall ESG reporting.

3. Turn managers into wellbeing gurus

Perhaps one of the biggest issues driving poor wellbeing, and the desire of individuals to want to get away from the pressures, is the extent to which busy managers have forgotten the people aspects of people management.

With so much focus on targets and increasingly pressurised deadlines, we all need to take a step back and build back in some time for self-care, or even just some fresh-air-breaks to go outside during daylight hours. However, people will take their lead from their manager – and if that manager is working flat out, the message is ‘This is what it takes to get on here’. So train managers how to create a healthy working environment and their role in that – from how realistic the deadlines they’re setting are to how easy it is for people to draw a line between work and home when they’re not meant to be working.

Managers, who are also best placed to pick up when someone is starting to feel overwhelmed, also need to be trained to conduct check-in chats. Instead of just talking shop and asking someone how their project is going, these chats should be about asking the individual how they are on a personal level, showing the caring face of the organisation.

Many managers already have it in them to do this – but they worry they will become responsible for counselling or advising the employee if they open up about a personal problem. Yet once managers understand it’s not their role to do this, but it is their role to listen, show empathy and signpost to the support services in place, they can become empowered to become a mental health leader. In a way that will dramatically increase how loyal their team feels towards them, and also the organisation as a whole.

Louise Abbs is managing director of PAM Wellbeing

For help to create a wellbeing strategy linked to your employee retention, and other business goals, contact us today to set up a free consultation with one of our team