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Firms in APAC suffer billions in losses owing to employee wellness


Colliers International, a commercial real estate services company has recently released its Wellness 2018 report which cited a study by GSK Global Healthcare to estimate that pain-related productivity losses cost companies across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines the equivalent of US$44.6 billion in 2016 – or 2.4% of the countries’ combined gross domestic product.

Meanwhile, a Cigna survey showed that 66% of respondents from across the region said it was important that their employer had a wellness programme in place, and 59% said such a programme would impact their decision whether to join a new employer.

In fact, wellness programmes were even more highly valued by young people. The report stated that with millennials projected to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025, they are a demographic that should not be ignored.

“Wellness is becoming a key component of workplace strategy with corporates increasingly looking to design the best workplaces to enhance employee engagement and productivity, and developers aiming to attract higher calibre tenants and potentially lease more quickly and at higher rates. Having introduced workplace strategy last year as an additional service offering for our clients, we are now bringing wellness to the forefront, giving our clients a more well-rounded strategic service offering,” said Victoria Gilbert, wellness consulting lead, Asia, Colliers International.

Meanwhile, the promotion of wellness in the workplace has shifted from a corporate social responsibility consideration to a strategic priority as more companies recognise the role it plays in driving business results.

According to the release, workplace wellness is a vast field that can span everything from fitness incentive programmes to the base office design, ergonomics, light, air and healthier cafeteria choices. It is 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 to foster healthier working environments.

New technologies play a vital role in fostering wellness in the built environment, whether through control or automation of variables like lighting and temperature, or the monitoring of factors like air quality and energy use. This will ultimately contribute positively to business results by reducing the usage of utilities, as well as health or productivity-related losses.

Further, innovative solutions, such as wearables, health apps and online fitness communities, empower employees to stay healthy and take greater responsibility for their own health.

In pursuing wellness and implementing enabling technologies, the report highlighted that owners and occupiers will inevitably encounter challenges. While the challenges and solutions may vary from firm to firm, some general best practices suggested by Colliers include to:

  • Start small and leverage existing resources
  • Demonstrate leadership,
  • Think in terms of ROI (return on investment) and VOI (value of investment), and
  • Engage employees
Gilbert added: “The data around employee health and well-being makes it clear that Asia Pacific has some way to go in the pursuit of workplace wellness. But with better buildings coming online, related technologies growing more sophisticated and international standards taking root in developed and emerging markets, I’m positive that Wellness is the way of the future in the workplace.”

Photo / 123RF

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