Despite their vast differences, there’s one thing businesses and organizations of every size and across every industry have in common. No matter what the business or sector, the top resource of any organization is its employees.
Everything an organization does and any way it seeks to succeed depends on how well its employees can execute their roles to reach its goals. Taking good care of your employees translates into taking good care of your customers and your organization’s future.
That means that everything, from waxing the floors to providing satisfying customer service or closing major deals, starts with the people who are responsible for getting the job done. Providing an excellent customer experience is made much harder when your employees don’t feel valued or appreciated. Employee burnout, categorized as an occupational syndrome by the World Health Organization, can raise healthcare and human resources costs and reduce productivity and the quality of work performed.
Without employee-focused strategies, benefits and a supportive organizational culture in place, burnout can grow rampant.
Employee burnout is shockingly common, yet largely avoidable. A 2022 Gallup report found that 76% of American workers report experiencing job burnout at least occasionally. Harvard Business Review calculates that at any given time 10% to 15% of employees are experiencing true burnout. Gallup reports that burnout affects companies’ bottom line with higher turnover, absenteeism and medical costs (due to preventable conditions and more frequent emergency room visits) and lower productivity. It calculates burnout can cost organizations an average of 15% to 20% of total payroll in voluntary turnover costs.
In contrast, in organizations where employees are happy, where they feel engaged and a part of the team and understand their role in carrying out the overarching mission, excellence becomes ingrained in the organizational culture. That positive culture burnishes your reputation and makes recruiting top talent much easier.
One of the first things you must do to bring strong talent on board is convince potential employees your organization is a place where they will have value, benefits, competitive compensation, opportunities for growth and meaningful work. That remains a big part of retaining the talent, as well.
The quality of the benefits you provide and the culture you foster directly affect how well your organization finds and retains people with the experience, work ethic, personality and cooperative spirit to excel in their roles. Likewise, the strategies and policies you design to keep employee engagement high help your organization thrive.
Here are seven ways to take good care of your greatest resource:
1. Offer wellness programs that support employees’ personal growth in all five areas of wellness: physical, emotional, social, financial, and career developmental. Kristen Lippencott, manager of wellbeing and health solutions strategies at Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, recommends approaching this whole-person emphasis on wellness and wellbeing as “people development.”
Wellbeing is now inextricably tied to employee engagement. Wellness programs help people develop in key, positive ways, whether from eating more nutritiously or improving their retirement planning. Wellness programming provides added value to the employees as a benefit of working for you. And it adds value to your organization when you have healthier, happier employees who are invested in their wellbeing, and who know that you are, too.
2. Offer a custom mix of competitive benefits chosen for the specific needs of your member population. In addition to ample compensation, benefits can make all the difference in whether a candidate chooses your organization or another. A strong suite of benefits also helps your operations run more smoothly, as employees and their families have ample coverage for health, disability, life insurance, cancer and critical illnesses and other potential disruptions and more incentive to stay with the organization.
Your health plan also should be able to analyze your group’s data to understand your population’s specific needs and build a benefits package that addresses its most critical areas. For instance, if adults under 40 comprise a significant percentage of your workforce, adding a maternity care management program might be deeply appreciated. Similarly, a population with people who have diabetes or are at risk of developing it could receive help from a specialty diabetes management program as an add-on to the health plan. There are many options for benefits customization, and your insurer should be able to find a sustainable mix of solutions that works in balance with your needs and resources.
3. Ensure your employees have supervisors and managers who are invested in growing their skills and professional development, and who treat them with respect and encouragement. Gallup found the most influential factor for whether an employee will develop burnout is their relationship with their managers. Employees lucky enough to have supportive managers who advocate for their team members were the least likely to experience burnout.
4. Give them empowering self-service tools to access their benefits in addition to accessible and expert human customer support. Now almost a quarter into the 21st century, today’s workforce expects robust and efficient, easy-to-use digital tools and information systems to expedite their work. Employees expect a health plan that is focused on their experience, a plan where they can easily access and self-manage their personal benefits information and research medical costs and providers. These digital tools should be readily available and simple to use. Providing anytime-access to helpful digital tools is another way of showing employees that you care about them.
5. Foster an ongoing dialogue between your organization’s leadership and employee base, communicating with them transparently and often, and setting an open-door policy to be responsive to their questions. It’s hard to overstate the importance of strong internal communications in keeping your workforce informed of developments and invested in the organization’s success. A best practice is to communicate via various forums ranging from internal newsletters and email blasts to regular team meetings and town halls with leadership. Your benefits partners should also be able to provide you with free content (such as explaining the ins and outs of a Roth IRA, how to use the wellness portal or how much your plan should cover an upcoming procedure) that you can insert into your employee communications.
6. Give them meaningful work so they can take pride in the role their efforts play in your company’s success. This doesn’t necessarily mean giving them different work, but rather a new perspective and deeper appreciation of their responsibilities. A proven way to build loyalty while decreasing the likelihood of burnout is for employees to understand why the work they do—whether waxing floors or closing sales—matters to your organization, your customers and your community. Building a culture of positive teamwork with employees all contributing to shared goals can give your workforce a collective sense of pride in the work they do and can affect how well employees are inspired to perform.
7. Offer recognition for accomplishments and celebrations of goals reached. Success is a motivating force as well as a validating one. Don’t allow your team’s achievements to go unremarked. Build in ways for teams and individuals to share the good news of work well done and celebrate successes. It’s easy to forget how much employees appreciate being appreciated. Strategize ways to show your appreciation for jobs well done and milestones marked.
These seven practices can burnish your reputation as a desirable employer and as a good business. And they can make even everyday work more enjoyable and satisfying. Take good care of your people, and they will become truly invested in doing an excellent job for you and the customers you serve.