Top tips for talent acquisition

New survey shows safety is critical in attracting and retaining top talent.
Worker in uniform at modern gas station

The business case is clear. To attract and retain talent, health and safety must be a priority. That was the message from 1,500-plus employees, managers, human resource professionals, and executives who participated in the 2022 Health & Safety Leadership Survey conducted by Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS).

Now in its fourth year, the survey revealed that attracting and retaining staff is one of the top challenges identified by most employers (59%). What the survey also uncovered was that health and safety can be a powerful asset to overcoming this challenge.

Employers are grossly underestimating the importance of health and safety to new recruits and employees. According to the survey, only 39% of employers believe prospective employees ask about their health and safety program. In contrast, 73% of employees surveyed say they would need to know about it before accepting an offer of employment. In organizations that are health and safety leaders, more than half of respondents said they would be reluctant to leave even if they were offered more money elsewhere.

Organizations that want to remain sustainable, attract top talent, protect employees, and improve business outcomes are investing in health and safety as a strategic priority. It is no longer a privilege to work for an employer who cares – it is and should be an expectation for all employees. This is a big shift in how workplaces need to consider the workplace culture.

Workplace mental health is a critical component to success

More people are recognizing that a strong health and safety culture is key to future success. According to the survey, they are also recognizing that health and safety includes mental health and psychological well-being. Sixty-three percent of survey respondents identified mental health related to stress as a major emerging health and safety concern. Stress management, stress from excessive workloads or tight deadlines, and increased sick time related to stress were reported as the main issues contributing to poor workplace mental health.

A large majority of organizational leaders realize this and are concerned about the level of stress that exists in their workplaces but don’t always know what to do about it. Having an Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) is good, but it isn’t enough. Employers need to approach psychological hazards the same way that they approach physical hazards—by putting controls in place to reduce or eliminate it.

Consider how we treat physical hazards. If someone had to lift a 50-pound bag of sand from floor to waist every 30 seconds, the employee would experience injuries – back, shoulder, neck, etc. They would seek help for their injuries, and we would modify the workstation to protect them from further harm. When it comes to mental health, the work environment may be what is causing them harm. Pointing them to their EFAP is a start; however, the work environment may need to change too, so they can continue to work and be successful.

Employers may need to redesign the way people are managed and how work is organized. A good starting point is WSPS’ Mental Harm Prevention Roadmap. It provides organizations with the building blocks to create a psychologically safe workplace. Review the mental health supports you currently have in place to see if they are delivering the intended results. Involve employees in the discussion and find out what they would most value. A collaborative approach will foster the most effective solutions for everyone, which will help create lasting employee relationships.

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