A globally informed approach to employee wellbeing can change company culture for the better

Family-first business leaders can effectively sustain their workforce and increase their potential for economic growth. (Photo: Shutterstock)

If the big resignation hasn’t sounded the alarm bells for your team yet, prepare for change: a global change in the way companies retain and attract talent. About 23% of American employees will be looking for a new job in 2022, according to a survey by ResumeBuilder.com, continuing a trend that peaked in 2021.

Benefits for employee well-being and flexibility are among the benefits most sought after by American workers, but further abroad, organizations in other countries are ahead of the United States in find the right balance between benefits and net gains.

Related: Can Employers Bring Women Workers Back?

Here’s what U.S. business leaders can learn from their international counterparts about employee well-being and retention:

Finding the true meaning of “leaving”

Weekends are not enough to provide the balance and rest that well-balanced workers need. However, for decades, fast-paced, unsustainable corporate cultures have been celebrated and slowly accepted as normal for many workers, especially in the United States.

Change is coming. Around the world, there are signs that a more balanced company culture and adherence to the use of paid time off is not limiting success or meaning it is out of reach. International workers have leave traditions built into their social structure and culture – for example, many European countries take the summer months at a slower pace. French workers are required to have five weeks off each year, which many take in July and August. Spain is well known for its tradition of the midday rest “siesta”, but it is practiced more widely around the world in Mediterranean and warm-climate countries such as Greece, Israel, Nigeria, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.

Some international workplaces are thinking even further than holidays and experimenting with four-day working weeks – trials in Iceland, for example, have shown success and measured improvement in employee satisfaction and mental health .

Change your pay periods

The stress employees feel on a daily basis may not stem solely from work-related problems caused at work – external lifestyle factors contribute to the burnout experienced by many people. Events like tax season and economic inflation are difficult to influence from an employer’s perspective, but employers can help their workers get resources to help them.

Companies in other countries have successfully implemented a strategy: changing pay periods from bi-weekly or monthly pay to weekly pay. Companies in countries like India, Australia and New Zealand have implemented a weekly pay schedule to get workers paid faster and to help ease the stress of paying bills each week. This cadence and the promise of financial security every week can make a huge difference in the overall well-being of workers. Statistics show that reducing financial stress can have a significant impact on worker success and productivity: one study found that financial stress costs companies an estimated $4.7 billion per week in lost productivity.

Business leaders can also offer financial wellness tools to help educate and equip their employees with the proper knowledge to deal with financial stress. These resources can be integrated into HR benefits platforms or be part of internal employee events.

Family values ​​translate into employee values

The recent global health crisis has brought work home and simultaneously brought families closer to the workplace. One of the challenges facing employers during the “Great Resignation” is the willingness of employees to track down (and fund) childcare options to return to the office knowing that it is possible to be productive at home. While these decisions are very personal, employers can ease some of the burden of choice on families through family-focused benefits.

Family-first business leaders can effectively sustain their workforce and increase their potential for economic growth. According to a Gallup survey, the cost of replacing an individual employee can range from half to twice the employee’s annual salary, so the cost of losing employees due to inaction in family benefits can have an impact on a company’s bottom line.

This problem extends beyond corporations in the United States – a UNICEF study of the world’s wealthiest countries and family-friendly policies showed that world leaders such as Switzerland, Canada, the Japan and the United Kingdom ranked bottom alongside the United States. Overall, there is work to be done. Countries that offer flexible, nationally instituted paid family leave and offer working parents options for infant childcare are ranked highest in this study, including Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Germany and Denmark.

Whatever the solution, business leaders must create change at the deepest levels of a company’s culture – and change must come from leadership. Business leaders must empower employees to develop and choose leave plans that work best for them, and at the same time cultivate a culture that encourages well-being and shares employee values. Additional support and resources for stressors outside of the workplace ensure that workers are ready to work and put in their best efforts while on the job. Whatever the solution, flexibility, choice and an attitude of encouragement are essential.

Tim Boyne is Chief Strategy Officer at LawVu.

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