Here’s a New Year’s Goal for HR: Make Employee Wellness 2023’s Top Priority

A happy employee, resting with a cup of tea outdoors. Your workplace goals should include employee wellness for 2023.


You’re sitting at the table with the executive leadership team hashing out goals for 2023.  “Increasing revenue” is obvious, “innovation” a given, and “reducing costs to increase profitability” next. But there’s something missing here, and it’s key: a goal for your people.  I’m talking about employee wellness.  In a world where the talent shortage is causing real angst and employees are facing more and more challenges, your people strategies and goals need to be at the top of the funnel.


Without an employee wellbeing strategy, your recruitment, retention and engagement — your entire company — will suffer. 


Maybe you’re thinking this advice doesn’t apply to you because you do have people strategies in place for 2023. The problem is, they’re probably all reactive. Over the last few weeks, I’ve spoken to hiring managers who cite recruitment, retention, and engagement as some of their top goals for 2023, but these ignore employee wellbeing. Without an employee wellness strategy, your recruitment, retention, and engagement — your entire company — will suffer. 

A study done in 2011 looked at the PHQ9 questionnaire, which measures levels of depression in the workplace (the higher the score, the more depressed the person is), and found a direct correlation between employee depression and workplace productivity.  With each point of increase in the PHQ9 questionnaire, the worker lost productivity by 2%.  

So, back to that meeting. How do you get support on making employee wellbeing a priority? Raising the issue may not be enough for your organization — especially in a year when we are facing a recession, layoffs and budget cuts.  Here are a few ways to help make employee wellbeing a top priority in 2023.


1. Overwhelm Them With Employee Wellness Data

Leaders are driven by data. They will need data to convince them where and why to spend their money. Take the time to do some research and pull some numbers that support your argument that employee wellness plays a part in the company’s success. As an HR professional, this might seem overwhelming as data is not an inherent part of your job. However, it’s key to getting your team’s needs met.

Start with looking at the data you already have at your fingertips. You can bombard executives with national data and trends, but, if it’s not personalized from your organization it will land flat. Look at: 

  • Turnover information for the last two years
  • Exit interview data.  Why are people leaving?  If they’re leaving for a “better opportunity,” dig in one more step. Sometimes a better opportunity means flexibility, means more work life balance, or working remotely.  All of these are a key to employee wellbeing. 
  • Your recruitment numbers. How many offers were rejected and why?  


You can also conduct an employee survey to ask employees if they would recommend your organization as a great place to work and ask if they intend on staying with the company for a year.  These kinds of responses are all very telling. 

If you have the time and resources, taking it one more step and conducting “stay interviews” can be even more telling and give you the ability to dig in when necessary. A stay interview is just like an exit interview, but the employee hasn’t left the organization.


Bonus tip: Once you’re finished researching, consider tying your in-house numbers together with employee wellness trends in the local jobs market or numbers specific to your industry. At Star Staffing, we release a workplace trends report every month with detailed information on the current state of hiring in California


2. Come to the table with a plan and be open to ideas or suggestions

Raising the issue is a great first step, but being able to recommend a solution is why you have a seat at the table. 

Using the data you have collected, put together a recommendation, or set of recommendations, to address the challenge head-on. Don’t point fingers or throw blame, but create a solution that can be impactful and help you achieve the goals of the organization. 


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Showing how your plan supports the overall goals of the organization is key to getting buy in, but coming up with a plan is not the end result. You must be open to feedback and edits on your plan before it’s finalized. If you don’t come to the table with that plan, your people strategies could be left exactly there: on the table. 


You can look at how much more productivity you could achieve with an engaged workforce. Wouldn’t that number be incredibly compelling?


3. Understand the cost and the ROI, and be ready to present that information

The CFO usually has final say on spend within an organization. If you want to win them over, you’ll need to present the ROI or return on investment. What are they going to get if your plan is successful? You can do this by:

  • Estimating the cost of turnover and what the savings would be if you reduced turnover by x%
  • Estimating the cost of recruitment and how much you would save in time — for you, the recruitment team and the hiring manager  — if you didn’t have to backfill those roles.  
  • You can also look at productivity and determine how much more productivity you could achieve with an engaged workforce. Wouldn’t that number be incredibly compelling?


4. Review metrics for success/KPIs and identify key stakeholders

Finally, put your money where your mouth is. Set metrics for success and KPIs (key performance indicators) that show that you’re committed to your goals and how to measure success. This can be in the form of turnover, retention goals, recruitment goals, and/or productivity measures. You can also use your eNPS survey as a baseline and utilize the improvements in your eNPS scores to be a report on success.

One thing that we typically run up against in HR is that we carry these goals or KPIs alone.  In order for success across the organization, the leadership team must buy in, commit to, and be held to these same metrics. You do what you’re measured on, right? So, why aren’t we measuring leaders on their people performance? Accountability will help you drive the programs to meet your 2023 HR goals — with leadership support every step of the way. It will also help you identify challenges and give you a chance to make changes throughout the year.

HR professionals have been spinning their wheels for the last couple of years, trying to stay ahead of the curve, which has created a hamster wheel of recruitment and retention challenges. It’s time for us to take a stand — by setting a thoughtful people strategy as a company-wide goal for 2023. 

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