May 9, 2018

The “always on” work culture can take its toll on a workforce, regardless of the industry. Email and smartphone technology have made employees accessible at all hours of the day. With this level of access, comes stress—and plenty of it.

According to the CBRE report, Wellness in the Workplace: Unlocking Future Performance, in the United Kingdom alone,10.4 million working days are lost every year due to stress. Additionally, an estimated $227 billion is lost each year to employee absenteeism or “presenteeism” (when workers are in the office yet are unproductive due to health-related challenges).

The integration of personal and professional life will continue. By 2040, CBRE predicts a work environment characterized by autonomy and choice that will help balance this pervasive dynamic. Both employers and employees now place a special emphasis on wellness programs to help people live healthier and more balanced lives, which in turn creates a more engaged and productive workforce. An estimated 80 percent of employees said a company’s wellness offering plays a crucial role in recruiting and retaining them, per the CBRE report.

This comes at a time when the workforce is working harder. Americans employed full-time said they work on average 47 hours per week, while 18 percent said they work over 60 hours per week, according to a 2014 Gallup report. Nearly half of two-parent households have both parents working full time, according to the Pew Research Center.

Many are concerned that the growing demands of most jobs, coupled with these modern-day realities, may lead to serious health effects, worker fatigue and diminished productivity, said Julie Whelan, CBRE Head of Occupier Research, Americas.

The rising trend of strong corporate health and wellness programs aims to combat these effects for the workforce and, in turn, for the organizations themselves,” Whelan said in the 2016 report, What’s trending in health and wellness best practices in the corporate workplace?

Organizations are increasingly factoring health and wellness into their building selection, writes Whelan. Forty-five percent of those surveyed said they gave preference to locations that connect with nature in their building selection.

“Initiatives in ergonomics and indoor environmental quality are also popular and often led by [commercial real estate]. Designing workplaces to encourage employee movement is a rising trend,” Whelan said.


BETTER EXPERIENCES CAN ALSO SAVE COSTS

Buildings are beginning to adopt smart automation systems, or Internet of Things (IoT) tech, to have greater control over key components of operations, like security, lighting and HVAC, with the goal of impacting cost, productivity and the overall employee and tenant experience. “As embryonic as it is for most occupiers at this time in the technology’s evolution, it is clear that the Internet of Things movement is not solely about saving costs in building systems, but is also increasingly focused on occupant productivity and experience,” said Guy Holden, EMEA president, Global Workplace Solutions, CBRE.


"Internet of Things movement is not solely about saving costs in building systems, but is also increasingly focused on occupant productivity and experience,"

Guy Holden,
EMEA President, Global Workplace Solutions, CBRE

Recently, CBRE launched CBRE 360, a new global capability that focuses on delivering enhanced employee and tenant experiences in the workplace by integrating property services and amenities with advanced digital technology to accompany a new dispersed mobile workforce. “We’re focused on building personalized tech-enabled experiences in the workplace where we anticipate your needs through understanding data, and make your day better at work by connecting all types of amenities and experiences that today are very fragmented. The app, data layer and our on-site hospitality service teams all work in harmony to deliver a memorable experience in the office,” said Andrew Kupiec, global president, CBRE 360.


HAPPY + HEALTHY = ADVANTAGE

A 2014 study by the University of Warwick found that happy workers were 12 percent more productive. Companies that make significant investments in employee happiness and support saw their employee satisfaction rates increase. For example, one tech company experienced a 37 percent rise after making these investments.

One of the ways employers are investing in their employee’s happiness is through wellness programs. Stefan Gingerich, a senior research analyst at StayWell, said that employers are looking to establish wellness programs that are a “broader definition of ‘health’ or ‘well-being’, encompassing not only physical well-being, but also emotional well-being, mental well-being, financial well-being and more.”

According to CBRE’s 2016 Wellness in the Workplace report: “By improving the health and well-being of its workforce, an organization can create a distinct competitive advantage through reduced health-care costs, less absenteeism, increased productivity, as well as improved staff retention levels and space utilization. Wellness programs are a win-win and, quite simply, make good business sense.”

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