How to create a caring culture that improves retention and drives business performance

"87% of people would be more likely to stay with an employer who looks after their wellbeing", so how are you showing your colleagues that you care?

Anna Hayes - 9 March 2021

Companies have traditionally focused on building cultures that improve performance.

However, when setting and measuring performance-based OKRs, many business leaders risk not paying enough attention to the health and wellbeing of their staff.

Failing to acknowledge that health and wellbeing is a key driver of overall business performance is a risky strategy. There’s often a huge disconnect between where businesses want to be, what success looks like to them, and the OKRs that are implemented to get there.

To succeed, businesses need to build cultures that care about employees and put them right at the centre of everything they do.

But this doesn’t come without its challenges. The benefits of a caring culture don’t fit neatly into the number crunching section of an annual report.

So how exactly do you measure your return on investment?

The benefits of building a caring company culture are very real and trickle through to every aspect of a business, especially when considering employee retention and productivity. Our recent survey with Yougov has shown that 87% of people would be more likely to stay with an employer who looks after their wellbeing.

“The companies who are ahead of the curve and are thinking like that are the ones who are going to get rewarded in the long term. It's much better to focus on health, boundaries, and happiness - you get much better retention and productivity.” - Dr. Rangan Chatterjee

It’s not just about what your business can do at work to directly help employees, seeing the full benefits of a caring culture will require some input from them too. Investing in education around ‘self care’ can help people learn how to lead healthy lifestyles by making positive changes that impact all parts of their lives.

Connecting all aspects of your wellbeing strategy into a coherent package that your staff will use is important, and delivering it through the right technology can make a huge difference to engagement.

Real change requires company-wide commitment and accountability

If you’re going to invest in building a caring culture, avoid cutting corners or taking a half-hearted approach. The changes need to be deeply embedded in everything you do at all levels of your business.

Real change requires a company-wide commitment, not just blue sky thinking among senior managers. The messaging and behaviour needs to filter down from the top to make it clear that building a caring culture has become a critical focus for everybody in the business.

Success, or failure, must be measured if you want to make a lasting difference and you need to know how that measurement will take place.

Clarity is key, so make sure that your new values are clearly defined. This will help to avoid confusion and make sure that everybody acts on specific guidance instead of trying to interpret undefined dreams or generic aims.

Businesses need to hold themselves accountable for how well culture changes are working and communicate the results widely, offering encouragement and helping to maintain focus.

Learn what motivates your staff and offer them support that fits

Learning what drives your employees is a key step towards understanding how your business can help them.

As well as focusing on what motivates people in their roles, also look outside the workplace to learn what drives them personally and their individual attitudes towards health. If you find out that some people don’t seem to care about their health, what can your business do to help change their mindsets and behaviours?

Technology gives businesses a growing number of ways to deliver wellbeing benefits that improve company culture. These benefits must not be presented as casual perks that are thrown at employees in the hope that one day they will help someone in some way. Benefits need to be carefully chosen so they make sense for your employees based on what you know about them.

Tech can also help drive engagement, especially if it’s fun to use. Through gamification, rewards, and incentives, modern wellness apps can encourage employees to adopt new behaviours and give them the motivation to form new habits that have a positive impact on their lives and your business.

Analyse health patterns and measure success

To care for your staff you need to understand how they’re doing, and having the right tools in place to measure this is vital.

If somebody asks you about how healthy your staff are, where would you turn for an answer?

Historically, many businesses chose to look at data such as sick days, staff turnover, patterns in insurance claims, or even asked employees directly. However, these metrics alone aren’t enough because they fail to give a full picture of the health of your employees.

Times have changed, and technology now offers businesses the opportunity to discover and react to fresh insights from new sources of data.

For example, a key feature of YuLife’s app is the way that employees can earn discounts from leading brands as rewards for living a healthy lifestyle. Activities such as walking, cycling, meditation, and mindfulness can all be measured to offer employees tangible incentives for building healthy habits.

Average daily steps and mindfulness minutes per week

Crucially for employers, YuLife’s app also feeds anonymous health data, such as average step counts and how long people meditate, to empower businesses to tweak broader wellbeing programmes and quickly react to staff behaviour in real-time.

When global media agency Havas deployed YuLife’s Group Life Insurance package as a way to drive positive changes in behaviour, four out of five employees downloaded the app. Of these, 80% of employees were still regularly using the app a year after signing up, earning over £3,300 in rewards from brands including Amazon, ASOS, and John Lewis.

The incentives had a real impact on how people behaved. In February 2020, before the first lockdown in the UK, the media agency’s employees averaged around 8,000 steps per day.

That’s well above the UK average of 3,500.

Make employee wellbeing a key performance measure

The pandemic has made both employers and employees shift their priorities when it comes to health and wellbeing.

If you haven’t started to focus on building a supportive and caring company culture, you risk failing in your duty of care as well as damaging your overall performance and reputation.

A happy, healthy, and motivated workforce is completely tied to business success.

Your employees are key to everything you do. With that in mind, why not consider introducing appropriate OKRs that reflect this reality.

For example, an objective could be to improve employee wellbeing. To measure this you could look at the percentage of people who engage with your wellbeing programme, the percentage of employees who claim their wellbeing IT spend, or the percentage of employees who use the fitness and wellbeing benefits. You may notice a theme here: measuring engagement is key.

Putting your people at the centre of your business culture pays off on all sides. Employees can develop better health and a deeper connection with your business, and your business will benefit from a happier and more productive workforce.

YuLife offers companies of all sizes an easy way to offer extra financial protection that comes bundled with the health and wellbeing benefits that employees expect and value.

Click here to get a quote and learn more about how YuLife’s is working with hundreds of growing businesses to provide Group Life Insurance that engages, rewards and protects their people.

Anna Hayes

Anna joined the YuCrew in 2020. She loves doing walking challenges with her puppy and reading in her spare time.