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Why mental health and wellness are so important to your recruitment strategy

Why mental health and wellness are so important to your recruitment strategy

Work stress is no joke, and it’s on the minds of today’s job seekers. In fact, 1 in 3 candidates shared in Monster’s latest State of the Candidate survey  that their jobs are having a negative impact on their mental health and wellness.

Candidates revealed that the source of their mental/emotional distress at work most often is the result of heavy workload (32%), not making enough money to cover bills/debts (28%), and having a toxic boss/coworkers (24%).

What’s more, among the top factors that drive candidates to seek different jobs besides salary is for better benefits (21%), because of job dissatisfaction (20%), and for improved flexibility/lifestyle (20%). Those non-monetary factors happen to revolve around quality of life, and together, they illustrate that candidates are interested in more than just compensation when it comes to evaluating job opportunities.

What that means for recruiters is that addressing employee quality of life and health and wellness can be a huge differentiator. We turned to some experts to find out why you should promote mental health and wellness benefits to prospective candidates, and how to do it.

First, understand the candidates

We don’t have the same boundaries of a 9-to-5 day as we used to, says Darcy Gruttadaro, Director of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation’s Center for Workplace Mental Health. “People are checking their email and their computers in the evening, on weekends. There are no limits as to how long people are working these days.” Plus, thanks to the rise of big data, workers are being held to higher standards as they are being measured on anything and everything. In short, people are exhausted and under constant pressure to perform at the same time.

Add to that feeling overwhelmed and stuck in a toxic work environment and you can understand why some employees dread going to work every day. That’s when more serious consequences can occur. Case in point: Two in five candidates say they have experienced anxiety (41%), one in four have experienced depression (24%), and one in 10 have experienced physical illness (12%) as a result of their job.

 In other words, candidates are saying loud and clear that they want and need more support from their jobs to better cope with mental health issues. So how is your company doing that?

How to promote wellness programs to today’s candidates

There’s so much recruiters need to pitch when connecting with candidates, that programs related to workplace mental health and wellness might not seem like a top priority. However, the Monster survey indicates that it is something candidates care deeply about. Whether it’s in your job postings, on employer career pages or social profiles, or during communications with candidates, a mention of your organization’s health and wellness efforts can say a lot about the culture. Try these strategies:

Share stories, not features

“Companies advertise that they have yoga rooms and pool tables, and that’s fine. But those are just features,” says Eric Johnson, Executive Director of Graduate Career Services Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. Instead, think about how you can tell the company story through the lens of the employees. Ideally, says Johnson, it should illustrate: “how they feel empowered to talk about who they are, how their company supports them, and what makes them a happy human inside and outside of work.”

For example, hearing from a leader who talks about being an engaged parent and that work doesn’t give them any issues during soccer season when they have to leave early twice a week to coach their kid’s teams can be a powerful story.

Lead by example

It might feel taboo to say “we know work is stressful,” but companies have to acknowledge that reality, says Johnson. Having messaging that shows you not only understand that high performers put themselves in stressful situations, but that also encourages employees to ask for help and provides tools and resources is key. “When companies just say it’s not a weakness if employees need help, that screams volumes as to what kind of culture candidates are stepping into,” says Johnson.

Johnson recalls the positive reaction among students who heard a senior leader giving a presentation on campus share a personal story about how therapy helped him be a better employee and leader. Testimonials like that can make a candidate feel confident that they will be supported.

Discuss specific policies that promote a healthy workplace

Stories are great, but candidates may also want details about what programs are in place should a situation arise. For example, you might touch on what your return to work policy is for people who go out on leave, or share which EAPs are available on site. “Do you offer technology or apps that people can use to practice mediation and mindfulness? That also shows an employer’s support for employees,” says Gruttadaro.

How mental health and wellness commitments can help you attract talent

For senior-level recruitment executives who have the ears of the C-suite, pushing for more mental health and wellness support can help your overall recruitment efforts, as well as the company bottom line. According to the American Institute of Stress, job stress costs U.S. industry upwards of $300 billion a year in absenteeism, turnover, diminished productivity, and medical, legal and insurance costs.

If your organization is behind the times, here are some things to advocate for:

On-site help

“Employees often don’t know who to ask for help and don’t know where to begin,” says Johnson. And the Monster survey supports that. Nearly one-quarter of workers say they haven’t sought help out of fear of being judged (26%) or simply not knowing where to turn for help (24%).That’s why Johnson says having an on-site human whose role includes being there for these very situations is vital. “It’s a sign that the company is committed because they are willing to put headcount behind it,” he says. Even if you’re a smaller firm and you want to designate someone from HR to take on this role, just knowing that someone is available in a confidential way to recommend resources can go a long way. Many smaller companies can also bring in local partners to assist, notes Johnson.

Ongoing education

“Stigma remains a significant barrier to mental health,” says Gruttadaro. What can the organization do to raise awareness and make mental health visible? And not just once a year, but on an ongoing basis. “How often is an employer sharing info with employees? Do they have a newsletter? Do they have a centralized place to communicate to employees about mental health?” says Gruttadaro. Giving the information throughout the year and talking about it at town hall meetings, webinars, and health fairs shows that mental health and wellness is a priority.

A culture of wellness

Incorporating some simple changes into the workspace that are wellness-focused can help create a more relaxing environment. For example, providing healthy snacks (instead of junky vending machines), playing relaxing music, and encouraging staff to stand, stretch and take breaks during the day can help. Also, making investments in good lighting, plants and flexible workspaces can give the office a more inviting feeling.

All in all, candidates are looking to improve not only their salaries, but their employee experience. Sharing the ways in which your organization cares about and supports their health and well-being could be the very thing that convinces them to choose to come work with you.

Want to learn more about how to promote your company’s culture to meet the need of today’s candidates? For more recruitment tips, sign up for Monster Hiring Solutions.