To better answer this question, let’s review the essentials of QWL (quality of working life). For a long time, misleading images of flashy toys and outings (ping pong tables, candy dispensers, paintball team-buildings, etc.) have been wrongly equated to QWL. The real essence of well-being at work has its source in the challenges presented. According to Harvard Business Review, QWL “covers a person’s feelings about every dimension of work including economic rewards and benefits, security, working conditions, organisational and interpersonal relationships, and its intrinsic meaning in a person’s life.” So, with that, here are five reasons why emphasising the quality of working life improves recruitment outcomes.

Well-being at work is actually a personal matter

For QWL to become a tangible means for attracting and retaining talent, we need to broaden its definition. When asked about the subject, Isabelle Barth, a university professor and researcher in management science, prefers to talk about self-fulfilment. “By this approach, well-being would be the realisation of our full potential”, she reasons. The growing importance given by employees to the environment and atmosphere in which they work reminds us of the close link between work and the notion of fulfilment. In fact, since the pandemic began, employee expectations have expanded, and in order to recruit successfully they can’t be ignored. The 2021 Wellbeing Diagnostic Survey reported that only 14% of companies had delivered on their promises with their well-being programs, while less than half of the companies even had well-being programs at all – clearly factoring in to many employees jumping ship during the Great Resignation. From now on, an in-demand candidate will base their choice as much on the nature of the work-based objectives as on the quality of life at work.

Workload directly impacts recruitment

Well-being programs are a call for the responsibility of companies towards their employees, in particular to ensure that their needs and expectations are heard and met. Additionally, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recognition of burnout as a disease underlines the preventive role of well-being at work against psychosocial risks. Hence the urgency of redefining suffering at work, for example, by learning to perceive excess stress and identifying its causes in order to remedy them.

Many studies have shown that women with dependent children showed greater pain from work pressure than men. All workers, though, are prone to thinking about work outside their office hours, regardless of their age, gender and activity sector. A psychological overflow which, as we know, easily turns into burnout. During the recruitment phases, remember to mention the services or efforts provided to lighten the mental load of employees such as support for the right to disconnect, stress management workshops or an open feedback culture, for example.

No well-being at work without good physical health

While we are talking a lot about psychological well-being, the fact remains that physical risks exist. An employee who handles heavy machinery will have different heakth concerns to a struggling remote worker, but both deserve their employer’s attention. One study by Vitality Group, Cambridge University and Charles University revealed that mental and/or physical health accounted for more than 84% of direct effects on productivity loss: highlighting that physical and mental health are the significant determinants of employee productivity. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, a company’s attention to its employees’ health has become a real factor for retaining and attracting talent. A study by the international market research group IFOP found that 65% of professionals and 73% of managers would stay with, or commit more willingly, to an employer who offers physical and psychological health support. Finally, a third of respondents believe that it is up to Human Resources to organise actions to preserve employees’ good health.

Human Resources is on top of Quality of Working Life

HR is at the forefront of promoting well-being at work. QWL stems from various criteria: the general mentality around collaborative work, state-of-the-art tools, offering day-care services or specially designated areas for employees’ children, quality training programs, stimulating innovative approaches and more.


Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • What are the organisational obstacles that could hinder an employee’s well-being at work? Think across various demographics (parents, young recruits, senior employees, etc.).
  • Do employees turn to their managers to discuss QWL issues? What leeway do they have to propose solutions?
  • How do you support your employees’ professional development? How do you plan to deal with skills obsolescence?

Employee pride fuels recruitment performance

The final, big question: are your employees proud of their work and the conditions in which it is performed? Satisfied employees do not hide it; take a look at your company Linkedin notifications or Glassdoor home page! Another preferred resource for candidates, the “Great Place to Work” ranking records employee opinions by company. Wouldn’t it be helpful if your (good) reputation preceded you?

In a challenging period for Talent Acquisition and internal recruiters, quality of working life has never been more critical. First you need to understand employee expectations, then make them actors of their own well-being at work. Feedback should be collected objectively. While it’s tempting to see those with negative opinions simply as complainers, learning to see real and widespread problems can save QWL from declining. Ultimately, it all starts with the ability to come to a consensus on what constitutes well-being at work. Why not conduct a free behavioural assessment to better understand employee preferences and motivations?