Written by Victoria Gilbert, Associate Director, Workplace Advisory Corporate Solutions Asia, Colliers International
Wellness is becoming a strategic priority for companies across the globe. Over the past few years in there has been a significant uptake and rapid growth of wellness building projects in Asia Pacific – which looks set to continue.
Business leaders have identified the ‘war for talent’ as their number one challenge in the region. Millennials – set to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025 – are more focused on their own well-being, changing expectations of the ‘employee experience’. And, research shows that shows failing to take wellness into consideration has serious consequences for productivity and the bottom line.
It is therefore vital for companies to consider how they can embed wellness into the built environment, develop effective organisational policies, and positively influence employee behaviour.
Industry needs to address the pain points of these companies – by developing services to improve well-being at scale, leveraging new technologies to facilitate the journey, and providing ways to measure the impacts. For many, the focus is shifting from ‘what’ wellness is and ‘why’ it’s important, and asking ‘how’ to build effective wellness programmes, and quantify the benefits to employee and corporate performance. As the wellness industry develops more tools to answer these questions, companies will be more willing to commit time and resources to implementing them.
Given that we spend 90 per cent of our time inside, especially in urban environments like Hong Kong, and that indoor air can be more polluted than outside it is essential to ensure the air we are breathing is high quality. Poor air quality, including high carbon dioxide levels, is linked to increased risk of disease and decreased productivity. Providing clean air not only has a clear health benefit but also gives a psychological edge – it’s peace of mind. Leveraging big data and apps to consistently monitor and communicate this to employees is extremely effective.
We were born to move. Some companies are addressing this through office design by creating circulation routes to ensure people are moving throughout the day. Some have fewer printers or a centralised area for bins so people are naturally compelled to walk and socialise. You’ll also find height-adjustable desks or standing desks that team members use for a break from sitting all day. All of this helps to increase movement and step count – making for healthy internal competitions! Using a digital platform or wearable can be a great driver for healthy habits across the business and a great way to see improvements over time.
Efforts to enhance wellness can encounter multiple challenges, from budget limitations to a lack of staff or management buy-in. It’s crucial for corporates 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 engaging with industry experts to execute it.
How Do You Bring Wellness Into Your Workplace?
Here are ten top tips to improve the work environment for you and your employees.
- Improve air quality – air pollution kills 7 million people every year.
- Ensure you’re drinking enough water – dehydration reduces cognitive performance and energy levels by up to 20%.
- Reduce sound distractions – exposure to unwanted sound reduces concentration by 66%.
- Get comfortable – 85% of people in Asia suffer one or more musculoskeletal conditions annually
- Make the most of natural light – employees seated within 10 feet of a window reported an 84% decrease in eyestrain, headaches, and blurred vision symptoms.
- Focus on your mind and wellbeing – 25% of people report work as the number one stressor in their lives.
- Embrace nature and green materials – adding plants to the workplace can result in a 58% reduction in depression, 44% in hostility and 37% in anxiety and fatigue.
- Get moving – physical inactivity is the 4th highest risk factor in global mortality.
- Be more conscious about nourishment – 1 in 5 deaths are linked to band diets globally.
- Build a sense of community – the average human requires 6 hours of social interaction per day to maintain overall wellbeing.
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