Why Investing in Mental Health Attracts Talent (and How to Do It)

4 Sep ‘22
4 min
Work performance
Editorial Board OpenUp
Gecontroleerd door dietician Judith Klenter

It’s been a long time since the job market was as hot as it is right now. At the end of November 2021, the US saw a near record number of job openings with unfilled positions. This means that competition between companies looking to attract new talent is fierce. A company that actively cares about employee mental health might just have the edge, making it easier to attract that new talent.


Why the job market is so hot right now


Everywhere you go, you’ll hear people talking about the worker shortage we have at the moment. In an episode of the experts discuss how worker shortages have affected certain industries, specifically restaurants, construction sites, meat-packing plants, and even large companies like Uber.


According to Forbes contributor the main reason for this is aging. There are now more people retiring than there are people entering the labor market. In addition, we’ve long undervalued work in many sectors, including healthcare and education, causing people to leave these sectors.


Being person-friendly as a competitive advantage


We’re seeing more and more companies resorting to outlandish measures to attract staff. From offering referral bonuses to signing bonuses, as well as a range of creative employee benefits, such as free e-bikes. These small measures can tip the scale for potential employees, but they aren’t sustainable solutions.


Companies like these have led the way in attracting new workers during the labor shortage by offering a combination of sustained high wages, better benefits, and improved flexibility. Essentially, it all comes down to how person-friendly an organization is. It’s this that’s set to offer the competitive edge moving forward. For Jeanne Meister, founder of the Future Workplace, this friendliness begins with looking after your staff: “These days, wellness programs are some the most important criteria for employees looking for a new job.


This means that employers need to start looking differently at their overall package of benefits, including benefits related to the financial and mental health of their staff. And it works too: 87% of employees say that they take health and wellbeing packages into account when choosing an employer. Meanwhile 45% of employees state that they would stay with an employer longer as the result of a good wellness program.


👉 If you want to learn how exactly to improve the mental health of your employees, you can read this article for tips or this article about sustainable employability. Read on to learn why a focus on mental health will help you attract new talent.


Employment benefits focused on wellness set you apart


Obviously, you need to offer competitive salaries, plenty of vacation days and attractive bonuses if you want to bring in new talent. But your competitors, who are fishing in the same talent pool, will be doing this too. That’s why it’s important for your organization to find different ways to set itself apart.


And a focus on mental health definitely does that. As already stated, the majority of employees take health and wellness packages into consideration when selecting a new employer. Meanwhile, only 40% of employers say that wellness programs are a top priority when providing employee benefits. And only 25% actively promote their wellness programs during their recruitment process. There’s plenty of room to set yourself apart here.


Make your employees brand ambassadors


What’s more, don’t underestimate the importance of your existing employees in bringing in new talent. Each time they talk about their work – whether it’s with friends in a bar or with their in-laws at Easter – they’re providing free advertising for or (if they’re less than satisfied) against your organization.


As Scott Klinger recently told “It’s essential that we remember the importance of our best internal advocates: our employees.” Not only do these people have friends and family, but they’re probably also on LinkedIn. In a competitive job market, that can only be a good thing.


Of course, employees will only recommend their company if they’re actually satisfied at work. A focus on mental health can help: 67% of employees who work for organizations with good wellness programs are “extremely likely” to recommend their employer to other people.


Investing in employee mental health


It’s probably clear by now: A well thought out wellness program can make a real difference in terms of bringing in and retaining new talent. Making use of OpenUp could be a crucial part of your wellness offering as an employment benefit for your organization. OpenUp helps employees with their mental health by providing support during one-on-one consultations with our psychologists, group sessions and online self-help modules.


But it isn’t just the right partnerships and tools that contribute to the mental health of your employees. A general focus on wellbeing and how it affects daily work practices is just as important. The following elements are important here:


  • Managers who recognize signs of mental health challenges
  • Regular check-ins between managers and team members – as well as among team members –where challenges can be discussed
  • An open and transparent corporate culture
  • Plenty of people – such as counsellors, HR managers or external psychologists – who employees can go to with their mental health challenges
  • Plenty of autonomy at work
  • A healthy work-life balance
  • Plenty of flexibility in terms of work location and working hours, so that it’s easier to combine work with caregiving responsibilities, for example