Addressing workplace woes | Inquirer Business
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Addressing workplace woes

By: - Reporter / @amyremoINQ
/ 05:12 AM June 09, 2018

Wellness in the workplace is no longer just a cause.

For many companies and businesses, the importance of employee wellness shot to prominence in recent years, as it increasingly became a strategic component in their operations.

And there is quite a volume of evidence to indicate that failing to take wellness into consideration has direct and serious consequences for productivity and the corporate bottom line, Colliers International Asia said in its latest report entitled, “Who? What? WELL!”

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Colliers International cited  a 2017 survey by insurer AIA, which  found companies in Australia and Hong Kong losing an average of 45 and 70 days of productivity a year, respectively, due to employee health issues.

It likewise cited a study by GSK Global Healthcare, which estimates that pain-related productivity losses had cost companies across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines the equivalent of $44.6 billion in 2016, or roughly 2.4 percent of the four countries’ combined gross domestic product (GDP).

Workplace strategy

“Wellness is becoming a key component of workplace strategy, with corporates looking at how they can design the best workplaces to enhance employee engagement and productivity, and developers aiming to attract higher caliber tenants and potentially lease more quickly and at higher rates,” explained Victoria Gilbert, associate director for wellness consulting, corporate solutions APAC at Colliers International.

This is perhaps why globally, the promotion of wellness in the workplace is shifting from simply being a corporate social responsibility consideration to a strategic priority as more companies recognize the role it plays in attracting and retaining staff and driving business results.

Wellness concept

Colliers explained that workplace wellness is a vast field that can include anything, from fitness incentive programs to the base office design, ergonomics, light, air and healthier cafeteria choices.

It’s also a concept that needs to be embedded in the physical environment, factored into everything from office layout, acoustic planning to ambient lighting levels. While technology has blurred the lines between “work” and “life,” it has also given rise to innovative solutions that can transform wellness, and empower owners and occupiers alike to foster healthier working environments.

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Apart from the fact that more business owners recognize the importance of workplace wellness to boost productivity, the employees themselves are also giving much weight on such measures, and have now become huge consideration in taking up a job offer.

A survey by insurer Cigna of countries across the Asia Pacific showed that 66 percent of respondents said it was important that their employer had a wellness program in place, while 59 percent said such a program would impact their decision whether to join a new employer.

Wellness programs were even more highly valued by young people. And with millennials projected to make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, they are a demographic that should not be ignored.

Increasing priority

The increasing priority placed on wellness has led to the emergence of standards that provide models for owners and occupiers to follow.

Among these standards, a clear international benchmark has emerged in The WELL Building Standard, launched in 2014 by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI).

Colliers explained that there are 10 concepts outlined in the Well Standard Overview, namely air, water, nourishment, mind, light, sound, movement, materials, community and thermal comfort. The WELL Building standard and wellness as a concept, are yet to gain significant ground in emerging markets like Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines, which are still, to a large extent, focused on boosting the volume of their office infrastructure.

But in the Philippines, this could change quickly as the competitive labor market and rising office vacancy in Metro Manila are compelling developers and tenants to differentiate to attract and retain occupants and high-quality talent.

Wellness as investment

“Landlords and tenants should keep in mind that promoting employee wellness is not a cost but an investment. Crucial to this is proper execution of wellness initiatives in the workplace to generate the intended results,” said Dom Fredrick Andaya, Colliers International Philippines’ director for office services.

Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Colliers pointed out that from 2009 to 2016, Filipinos’ spending on health-related expenditures grew by an average of 8.2 percent a year, faster than the growth of other consumer spending sub-sectors. This, it further explained, indicated that health and wellness are among Filipinos’ major priorities.

“As developers ramp up construction of office towers across Metro Manila, product differentiation plays a crucial role in ensuring that buildings are appropriate to the needs of the tenants given the increasing options in the market,” he said.

“Today’s labor force is also more discerning in choosing which companies to work in and the type of workspace is critical in attracting and retaining the best talent,” Andaya further noted.

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