Holistic Employee Wellness Can Help Recruit and Retain Talent

The pandemic has illuminated what’s most important to employees.

The war for talent in the midst of the Great Resignation, or the Great Reshuffle, is real. Surveys show that 75% of corporate leaders say recruiting and retaining talent is their top priority this year.

In addition, voluntary turnover among U.S. employees is likely to jump nearly 20% this year, from the pre-pandemic annual average of 31.9 million employees to 37.4 million employees, according to an April 2022 survey by Gartner.

What’s more, chief human resource officers reported that only 19% of their organizations were prepared to bridge the gap resulting from a talent shortage.

Nathan Guerrero

One solution? Holistic employee wellness. “Progressive leaders are putting employee well-being at the forefront of their talent management strategies, enacting policies that prevent burnout while enabling employees to flourish both professionally and personally,” says the Gartner April survey report.

So what can you do to stand out as an attractive company in a competitive talent market—and retain the employees you have?

“Leading your company out of a pandemic is equally as impactful as leading in the pandemic,” says Nathan Guerrero, employee benefits consultant at BOK Financial Insurance. “Your employees are one of your most important assets, and how you approach benefits, including a holistic look at wellness, has potential to play a big part in how you fare in this talent shuffle.”

What’s Your Why?

Company culture is a huge factor in relation to employee benefits and wellness strategies, says Guerrero. “When I speak with a new client, I really want to dig in to understand what the company’s values are, what they pride themselves on, and get a sense of their ‘why.’”

Every organization’s priorities are different. Does your company embrace internal mobility and employee development? Or is a social environment an important element of what makes you a unique employer? Maybe your values emphasize community engagement and consistent volunteer service, or maybe supporting parents through childcare programs is a differentiator.

Determine and define your company’s core values, and then make sure your company’s priorities and culture are reflected in your benefits strategy.

“Have you considered family or social well-being as elements of your benefits program?” Guerrero asks. Are there opportunities to elevate benefits like an employee assistance program or a flexible spending account for daycare that may already be in place?

A Holistic Look at Wellness

The COVID-19 pandemic was a rollercoaster for many—employers and employees, alike.  

Employers may have had to lay people off or furlough groups of employees, as individuals felt varying levels of financial strain and juggling childcare challenges became a prevailing concern. Plus, people had time to think about what was truly important in their career.

“How is your company responding to the needs of the whole person that’s coming to work?” Guerrero asks, challenging employers to think broadly. “Employers have different philosophies around wellness, with some simply focusing on health care while others apply that term more holistically to consider how they can create the healthiest employee population possible.”  

Whether that’s wellness challenges, access to financial education tools or internal mobility programs to encourage career development, culture and leadership play a big part in the benefits picture.

Laura Bartlett

“It’s really important for employers to try to get an understanding of the breadth and depth of the challenges their employees are facing,” says Laura Bartlett, Institutional Wealth senior business development officer at BOK Financial. “Employees are often financially stressed, and their workplace may be the only place they get access to financial education. Financial stress is a productivity reducer in the workplace.”

In fact, during the pandemic, 65% of employees reported being stressed about finances, costing employers a total of $4.7 billion per week in lost productivity.

Employers should think of financial health as a piece of a larger wellness puzzle, Bartlett says. “Educating your employees on how to use the benefits, connecting them to financial tools that support their goals and providing resources are key pieces to that puzzle as well.”

Bartlett finds that many employers could do a better job of explaining how their benefits cover some core components of a financial plan—health insurance, life insurance and disability insurance.

“Employees know they have these benefits, but don’t necessarily understand how they work and why they’re valuable,” she says. “Employers need to do a better job of proactively explaining the value of existing benefits to employees; that’s easy enough to do without incurring additional costs.”

Make Your Benefits Stand Out

One element of an educational approach is missing for many employers—a benefit statement.

“Some organizations are offering a comprehensive benefits package, but they aren’t presenting it well,” Guerrero says. “Especially in a tight labor market like this, you need to educate prospective employees on the full picture—and you need to educate your current employees about how you’re supporting them through a robust benefits package.”

This is a way to highlight company culture components as well, he says.

“Companies need to be thinking about ways to say ‘we want to hire you’ through benefit offerings,” Bartlett adds. “Can you eliminate waiting periods or shorten the eligibility periods? It’s really attractive to a prospective employee to get on the health insurance plan or enroll in the 401(k) and get a match right away.”

Of course, there are costs involved in all of these decisions, from employer matches to vesting periods to automatic escalation.

“The reality is that you can adjust those features at a later time,” Bartlett says. “You can adjust 401(k) plan elements such as your match and when employees are eligible for it, if and when the hiring environment changes in the future.”

Considering how you’re packaging benefits as a wellness program that takes physical, mental and financial wellness into consideration just might make a difference in your quest for stellar employees.

BOK Financial has prepared a checklist of items employers might consider to take a holistic approach to wellness. 


BOK Financial® is a trademark of BOKF, NA. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender . ©2021 BOKF, NA. Investments: NOT FDIC INSURED | NO BANK GUARANTEE | MAY LOSE VALUE