The candidate behind every resume and interview values workplace wellness policies. This shouldn’t be a surprise.
COVID-19 certainly exacerbated the issue by calling attention to the way many U.S. workplaces support their employees. But it’s a concern that existed long before — and will continue to exist long after — the pandemic.
With this being at the top of job seekers’ minds as they consider potential employers, you must accept that part of your role is to reassure them the company does prioritize employee health and wellness.
Stating the benefits the employer will provide is a good first step, and we’ll examine the best points to hit on. But it’s not enough. To successfully attract the top talent you need, you need to know what candidates need to hear and how you can communicate that information best.
Here are the points you should highlight when presenting the employer’s approach to workplace wellness:
Communicate what benefits are available
In the first round of interviews, the nitty-gritty of the benefits package should never be a significant part of the conversation. However, when it’s down to the last few picks — and especially when the hiring team agrees it’s time to move forward with a job offer — these details must be well-defined. The candidates deserve to have everything they need to be able to make an informed decision.
Never assume that some benefits don’t apply to someone. Everyone should understand everything available. Even if it’s not information they think they need for themselves, it can be encouraging to know what a potential employer offers to others. It builds trust.
– Don’t just say that the company offers bereavement leave and move on. Indicate the number of days allotted toward it and if that number changes by the circumstances. Through a 2016 survey, SHRM discovered that nearly 90% of organizations do offer bereavement leave. But, on average, it was four days for the death of a spouse or child, three for other family members like a sibling or parent, one or two for an extended family member, and none for a friend or colleague. The specifics of your bereavement policy can make or break a candidate’s decision.
– Do address policies regarding family leave regardless of the candidate’s gender, age, or family dynamic. You never know what situation someone may find themselves in. Note if there are differences in paid time off for maternity versus paternity leave. And be sure to include information about how the employer supports adoption and surrogacy as well.
– Acknowledge any possible shortcomings. Between March 2020 and June 2020, many employers shifted their perspective on certain benefits. For example, the likelihood of adopting employee assistance programs jumped from 38% to 56% according to research from The Hartford. If this company hasn’t been keen on benefits like that, explain the why. Understanding why the company doesn’t believe it to be beneficial or whether something is in the works but not currently available can calm any concerns.
It is always good to have this information written out on paper or in an online document for candidates to reference during their deliberation. Consider including an outline or table of contents at the top of the folder to give candidates an overview of what they should know about workplace wellness policies and benefits and where they can find that information.
Address how the company promotes physical health
Unlike all of those complicated details, you can and absolutely should underscore the company culture’s relationship with health. Without going into information about benefits, you can discuss how it plays into the company’s values, brings employees closer together, and establishes a more invigorating atmosphere.
Some candidates will know themselves well enough to recognize they benefit from workplace wellness initiatives that support good habits for physical health. Anything from an annual pedometer challenge to a wellness stipend — or even a weekly newsletter with healthy living tips — can be a big appeal to many.
Others, however, won’t appreciate work interfering with something as personal as physical health. In those cases, it is prudent to know their expectations before getting too far into the hiring process. Even if their skill set is a great fit for the job, a mismatch of values would lead to dissatisfaction all around.
Establish how leadership responds to mental health
Mental health is just as important to acknowledge as physical health. It can be a little more awkward to discuss, as anyone who has struggled with their mental wellness at some point can be sensitive to the topic. But that is precisely why it’s one you need to bring up.
Proving that the company has made mental health awareness a priority can be a massive relief to candidates. It demonstrates that decision-makers understand how significant it is to respect and support each employee as a person, not just a worker.
You can mention that the sales team in particular uses wellness apps (and that they like them a lot). But don’t make that the end of the conversation. That doesn’t tell candidates how leadership would respond if they or colleagues ever have a mental health emergency.
All in all, focus the conversation on the evidence. Simply offering surface-level information when a candidate asks about mental health is not sufficient.
Discuss the company’s approach to PTO
You do not necessarily have to reserve specifics about paid time off until the job offer. The trick is to focus on how the company encourages employees to use that time.
If you start this branch of the conversation with the distribution of sick days compared to vacation or personal days, candidates will think about what that means for them. On the other hand, if you indicate that some PTO is designated explicitly for volunteering or mental health days, candidates can reflect on what this says about the employer’s values.
Again, explaining the why here is always helpful. Say the company provides X amount of days for PTO in an entry-level position, but sick days, vacation, mental health, and volunteering are not separate categories. All of it is just under one block of PTO.
Share what factors led decision-makers to believe this is the best choice for their employees. Without mentioning too many details or dropping names, you can use real examples of how the current system works well for team members.
Remember, talking about workplace wellness policies like PTO early on in the hiring process isn’t about informing candidates about the benefits package. Instead, it allows you to provide insight and reassurance about the company’s approach so that candidates feel comfortable with the culture and leadership values.