Organisations cannot afford to neglect or pay lip service to employee morale if they want to retain talent, according to new research from HR, payroll and finance expert MHR 

In its latest Employee Experience report – which identifies employee wellbeing as a huge component of morale – MHR reveals that 75% of organisations fail to regularly check in on employee needs and attitudes, for example through satisfaction surveys. 

Findings from a separate MHR poll demonstrates the impact this lack of attention is having on employee perceptions, with more than three-quarters (79%) of employees saying they do not believe their employer when they promote mental health initiatives in the workplace.  

The huge number of employees who think that there is no support in place suggests retention will be a colossal issue for HR teams in 2024 unless communication on employee morale is drastically improved. 

Worryingly, the Employee Experience report shows that these employee concerns might be well founded. Even among the companies that do run surveys, 40% fail to anonymise them, meaning team members will be far less likely to provide truthful responses or even provide a response at all. On average, response rates are just 60%, leaving companies unable to record adequate results. This makes it impossible for them to ensure everyone feels genuinely supported. 

Jeanette Wheeler, Chief HR Officer at MHR, comments:  

“If companies are going to avoid these retention issues, they need to prove that they truly are committed to employee morale, especially wellbeing. Doing that not only means engaging properly with employees on what they need, but also communicating any resulting initiatives effectively. Companies who see the best results in talent retention work to understand employees’ wellbeing issues, act on those issues, and then communicate that action back to their employees.”  

The research suggests so few organisations currently avoid running surveys because they are time consuming, with 93% claiming they do not receive instant access to results and on average it takes up to seven days to analyse findings. However, a quarter (25%) of respondents claimed they would be more likely to run employee surveys to monitor morale if analysis and reporting functionalities were built into their current systems. 

Technology is an invaluable tool for improving this internal communication, allowing organisations to understand their employees better by facilitating better and more regular communication, through the likes of anonymised pulse surveys and sentiment analysis.  

Best in breed platforms like People First also make it easy for employers to share updates and communicate wellbeing initiatives via a company-wide ‘news feed’. This is a direct and accessible means of sharing information with employees and managing their wellbeing, allowing them to see the action that is being taken to improve their wellbeing in real time. 

However, with MHR’s research also showing that only 50% of organisations currently use any software for their wellbeing management, there is a huge opportunity for companies to improve. 

Digital tools can also be embedded to automate routine work processes, helping free up HR time for more complex, people-oriented issues – such as conflict resolution, engagement, and talent development – that play a huge role in improving employee wellbeing and creating a better workplace experience. 

Jeanette Wheeler, Chief HR Officer at MHR, comments:  

“Clearly our research shows that there is distinct room for improvement when it comes to companies gathering an accurate picture of employee morale. If they don’t address this issue soon, they can be sure that team members will start voting with their feet, leaving for roles at companies that can communicate initiatives honestly and authentically. 

“The average cost of rehiring for a given role – taking the onboarding process and initial loss of productivity into account – can rise to as much as £70,000 per individual. Companies that do nothing to improve their wellbeing support in a bespoke way will not only face serious financial consequences but also find it harder and harder to keep employees happy when a dwindling team is doing the work left by those who have left the business. 

“The best way to improve is to find a way to determine exactly what employees want, and then show the company has listened to what they have said, with steps being taken to do something about it. Implementing software solutions makes this much simpler for all and investing in it can avoids these issues altogether. It is a no brainer.” 

The full MHR Employee Experience report is available to download here: https://mhrglobal.com/uk/en/knowledge-hub/hr/employee-experience-2024-download