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A new report by CBRE titled Wellness in the Asia Pacific Workplace puts the increasing interest in health and wellness down to not just its impact on productivity, but three demographic factors:
- Longer lifespans – With employees living and working longer, those over 50 (about 20% of the APAC workforce) are placing a higher value on non-financial factors such as flexible work.
- Declining health and rising healthcare costs – Obesity rates worldwide have nearly doubled since 1980. In the US, workplace absenteeism/presenteeism represent as much as 2% of the GDP.
- Lack of skilled employees – With many countries suffering from an acute labour shortage, a company’s wellness provision will be a key factor in attracting good talent.
Malaysia has come under the spotlight in CBRE’s research for more than half the population (52%) getting fewer than 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, or fewer than 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. With 38% of the population pegged at a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25, this is certainly a worrying sign.
Among these factors, work-related stress can have a significant financial impact through its correlation with sick leave and lost working days. One major contributing factor to stress is the always-on culture which sees people rarely disconnect from their phones or computers for fear of missing out.
Of the 13 Asia Pacific cities included in the 2015 UBS Prices and Earnings study, only Sydney reported having average weekly working hours below the global average.
So what are some short-term and low-cost ways to encourage workplace wellness? The report pointed out the following 11 ideas:
1. Choice of work settings
- Ensure deskbound employees are given workstations by windows to ensure greater access to natural light and views.
- Promote flexible and remote working, and encourage managers and employees to trial them.
2. Healthy food options
- Offer healthy food options in the staff cafeteria and vending machines, and put the onus on suppliers to make this happen.
- Provide lunchtime seminars on healthy eating habits, and encourage senior leaders to take part.
3. Exercise opportunities
- Use meeting rooms to run lunchtime yoga or low impact pilates classes.
- Put forward subsidised gym memberships.
- Ensure employees take regular screen breaks.
- Encourage face-to-face discussion in the office rather than on calls.
- Take the stairs instead of the lift, where possible.
- Talk to managers about walking meetings to stimulate creative thinking.
- Put up posters of simple stretching exercises to do after sitting for extended periods.
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