Workplace wellness creates billions in value through savings in health and productivity enhancements

by • March 15, 2019 • Commercial Property Loan, Research and AnalysisComments (0)1208

– Workplace wellness impacts best assessed through tech-enabled indicators and employee feedback
– Wellness industry grew 12.8% from USD3.7 trillion (2015) to USD4.2 trillion (2017)
– Technologies enable new wellness possibilities
– Landlords and tenants should adopt a multi-stakeholder approach when implementing wellness initiatives

workplace wellnessColliers International on March 13 released its Wellness 2.0 report ‘How? Where? Well!’ This research paper builds on the original ‘Who? What? Well’! paper published in 2018 as the discussion has since evolved from “what” wellness is and “why” it’s important to more practical considerations such as “where” to start and “how” to effectively implement wellness programs for enhanced productivity.

Sam Harvey-Jones, Managing Director of Occupier Services, Asia, at Colliers commented: “Across Asia, wellness is increasingly considered a key component of the employee experience. As the concept of wellness gains ground, companies are starting to measure and report on the links between wellness and financial performance, often through the reduction of employee absenteeism and greater productivity due to enhanced employee engagement. In India, savings from wellness initiatives are estimated at up to USD20 billion in 2018. In China, where healthcare costs could reach USD1 trillion by 2020, companies are moving aggressively to promote healthier workplaces.”

Victoria Gilbert, Associate Director of Wellness Consulting at Colliers, added: “75% of millennials assign significant importance to wellness factors at work. It is no surprise then that the global wellness industry grew 12.8% from USD3.7 trillion in 2015 to USD4.2 trillion in 2017.”

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Multi-stakeholder approach to wellness
Ms. Gilbert commented: “To maximise the efficacy of wellness initiatives, an important initial step is to identify the baseline. It’s crucial to create a wellness strategy that’s core to a business and its employees. As wellness is not confined to one area of a business, the creation of a cross-functional committee encompassing facilities management, commercial real estate, HR and IT to jointly oversee wellness efforts is the optimal approach to ensure broad-based support and success across an organisation.”

New technologies enable new possibilities
1) Space: The emergence of more accurate air quality solutions is enhancing adoption rates across Asia, especially in China and India where air quality is a major concern.
2) Organisations: More and more companies are seeing the advantages of expanding wellness programs beyond physical to include mindfulness and lifestyle. For example, healthtech firm Byobeat measures employee’s heart rate variations over a 72-hour period to identify sources of stress.
3) Individual: Improved wearable devices motivate employees to get fit and enable tailored solutions to monitor their health. New AI-powered virtual wallets provided by companies such as CXA Group come equipped with access to services that prevent workplace health issues even before they arise.

“Wellness is no longer a ‘nice to have.’ As building owners and occupiers throughout the region embrace wellness initiatives to attract and retain customers and employees, the focus has shifted from ‘what’ wellness is or ‘why’ it’s important, to ‘how’ to build effective wellness programmes, and quantify the benefits to employee and enterprise performance.”

Wellness considerations in commercial real estate
Colliers research demonstrates that wellness factors such as air quality, natural light and recreational space are all key drivers of relocation decisions in markets such as Hong Kong.

Mr. Harvey-Jones commented: “We’re seeing that landlords are increasingly adopting new building technologies and design features such as double-height windows and exterior glazing that allow in natural light, which has been shown to enhance employee health while lowering energy costs.”

Improved metrics needed to assess workplace wellness

While workplace wellness has already been linked to improved profitability, employee satisfaction and productivity are often difficult to quantify. The good news is there are growing number of tools such as real-time indoor air quality monitors, mobile platforms, and scorecards, to name a few, that enable more effective assessment of workplace wellness programs and their impacts on companies’ bottom line over time.

“It’s crucial to create a wellness strategy that’s core to a business and its employees, and not just an add-on. This will help practitioners narrow the gap between the growing understanding of the field of wellness and effectively executing it.” – Victoria Gilbert, Associate Director, Wellness Consulting, Corporate Solutions, Colliers International

Metrics based on human feedback can be especially valuable to landlords as they may predict the likely duration of a company’s tenancy.

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Those landlords and tenants who act early to effectively assess the efficacy of workplace wellness programs while considering key human elements – including management buy-in and employee participation – will have a distinct advantage in the fiercely competitive property market and war for talent.

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