Group of people smiling about healthy economy

The global economy continues to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies struggle to retain and recruit employees while experiencing rising costs and supply chain shortages. Individuals grapple with both unemployment and cost of living during inflation. The World Health Organization reports that mental health demands for anxiety and depression increased by 25%, just in year one of the pandemic alone.

All in all, the past three years have been a time of mass uncertainty with volatility and change from root up, and back down. And so, the question remains:

How do we revitalize a healthy economy for the times?

Predictably, there is no straightforward answer to this question. However, in this series of blog posts, we seek to look at four key pillars of a successful and healthy business model through the lens of these times: people, purpose, process, and profit.

In this post, we’ll discuss how investing in people is one of the best ways to ensure a thriving business.

People are the heart of any business.

With the right people, an organization can thrive and grow to its fullest potential. With the wrong people, the business can stagnate or even die off.

The people of businesses vary. Investors and partners fuel the operations so that leadership and front-line workers have jobs that then support the consumer or client. Happy customers then tell others about the business, which in turn increases profit, job security, company growth, and so on. Simply put, just like a body without a heart, a business does not exist without its people.

In order to determine what’s important to the people of any business, you must be willing to walk even a moment in their shoes.

In layman’s terms, investors look for a return in safety, income, and capital gains; whereas owners seek scalable growth for profit that supports a company’s mission for both short-term and long-term goals. The employee that then operates the business desires income, job security, growth opportunities, health benefits, 401(k), paid time off, and so on. The client looks for quality products and services accompanied by competitive pricing and exceptional customer service.

With an equal give and take, a company focused on a healthy economy must meet the needs of all of its people. However, there is no doubt that one special subset of people stands to truly represent the business, and that is its employees.

Keep high-value employees.

According to Zippia, the national average annual turnover rate was 57.3% in 2020. The number of people who left their job due to quitting, layoffs, discharges, or any other separation increased to 6.2 million people in September 2021. Companies lose 18% of their workforce to turnover each year, on average. Gartner estimates that the U.S. annual employee turnover average will increase to 20% annually as of 2022.

Statistics vary depending on industry, but the consensus remains the same: since 2020, employee retention has been just as volatile as the economy. So the question beckons, how does a business retain its employees?

According to Jackson McConnell, President & CEO of Pinnacle Bank, when it comes to hiring great people, “All of the clichés you have heard come into play here – hire great people and let them work their magic, culture means everything, happy employees are more productive, etc.”

Create a “great place to work” culture.

Creating a truly great place to work culture isn’t always that straightforward, though. McConnell adds that Pinnacle employees, “expect to work hard, to be rewarded, and cared for. There is a trust level downstream and upstream. We love and respect one another. We offer ongoing education, the opportunity for advancement, generous pay, and benefits.”

As a revered leader with 20+ years of tenure, McConnell’s words pack a powerful punch, pointing out that to retain great employees, the business must take good care of them. And he is not alone.

Founder and CEO of Potential Project, Rasmus Hougaard writes in Forbes that leaders of people-first businesses “realize that when people feel valued and cared for, they do their work with stronger intrinsic motivation, a deeper sense of meaning, and a greater level of engagement. They go the extra mile simply because they want to contribute to an organization that cares about them.”

Though research on the importance of employee retention dates back to the 1980-1990s, researchers and ranking leaders are recognizing now more than ever that employees are the vital force that enables a business to thrive even during a rocky economic crisis.

Get creative.

Outside of competitive pay, health benefits (including medical, dental, and vision), vacation and sick days, paid parental leave, tuition reimbursement, 401(k) with match, stock and profit sharing opportunities, life and disability insurance, and mental health support are among the most sought-after benefits for employees.

Moreover, flexible working arrangements and DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) culture have risen to the top of “best places to work” benefits strategies.

But it doesn’t stop there.

To gain a competitive edge and lure high-value employees, companies must get creative with how they show care and understand that different benefit options can motivate people.

Some businesses offer options like pay for days off, rewarded days off, relaxation and play spaces, fitness allowance, and remote work options to appeal to those seeking an improved work-life balance. Others offer tuition reimbursement and personal and career development stipends to encourage employee growth and advancement. Even benefits for IVF, child care, family and financial planning, legal consultation, and retirement strategy have landed among the top benefits for those seeking to start a family or retire in the company.

Benefits that truly say “we care” to the employee are priceless in today’s economy.

Care navigation can help.

That’s why SentryHealth believes that people must come first as we revitalize for a healthy economy. We offer care navigation that combines advanced data and behavior science with personalized guidance and support from experts. As a result, our members are empowered to better engage in their own health, improving outcomes and delivering cost savings for both themselves and their employers.

We know that no two people are the same, so we don’t take a cookie-cutter approach. We make sure everyone gets connected to the most cost-effective, high-quality care they need, when they need it, to feel their best.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you support your employees, let us know. We’d love to chat.

Guest Post by Casey Edmonds, MPH, CSLIC, CHWC, CPT
Health Advisor for SentryHealth

Casey Edmonds has more than 15 years of experience in the health and wellness industry, working in corporate wellness, clinical medicine, and lifestyle health. She enjoys supporting individuals in spiritual growth, self-evolution, and meaning and purpose work that drives action in the here and now. With a master’s degree in global health and bachelor’s in health sciences, Casey is also an experienced professor, researcher, and coach.

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