Colliers Insights

June 6, 2018, Manila – Colliers International Asia has released a report entitled “Who? What? WELL!” that focuses on corporate wellness. The report provides actionable insights for both developers and occupiers and features recently launched wellness concepts in the workplace. In emerging markets such as the Philippines, the concept of making wellness at the forefront of workplace strategy has yet to gain substantial ground but this could change quickly as a competitive labor market and rising office vacancy in Metro Manila compel developers and tenants to differentiate to attract and retain occupants and high-quality talent. 

Workplace wellness is a vast field that can span everything 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.

In the report, Victoria Gilbert, Colliers International Asia’s Associate Director for Wellness Consulting, states, “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.”

In a recent survey by insurer Cigna of countries across the Asia Pacific, 66% of respondents said it was important that their employer had a wellness program in place, and 59% 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% of the global workforce by 2025, they are a demographic that should not be ignored.

In Asia Pacific and globally, the promotion of wellness in the workplace has shifted from a CSR consideration to a strategic priority as more companies recognise the role it plays in driving business results. A study by GSK Global Healthcare estimates 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 GDP.

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). 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 office infrastructure. However, this could change quickly. In Vietnam for example, helped by government incentives, 170 buildings were registered for green certification of some kind in 2017, up from just 2 in 2010. In the Philippines, Menarco group are leading the way with the only WELL registered tower in the country and it is only a matter of time before others follow.

With more employees making wellness a priority, owners and occupiers will have little choice but to follow suit. And while this may require some additional investment, the early success of programs like the WELL standard proves the payback is manifold – from more sustainable, and cost-effective working environments, to healthier, happier, more productive employees, and ultimately, healthier societies.

“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,” explained Dom Fredrick Andaya, Colliers International Philippines’ Director for Office Services.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that from 2009 to 2016, Filipinos’ spending on health-related expenditures grew by an average of 8.2% per annum, faster than the growth of other consumer spending sub-sectors such as hotels and restaurants (7.3%), food and beverage (5.5%), communication (5.1%), and clothing and footwear (1.4%) . This indicates 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. 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,” added Andaya.

Recently, Colliers International Philippines held a forum in partnership with CWC International, Herman Miller Asia and the ABS-CBN News Channel to drive the conversation forward on incorporating wellness in workplace design and solutions. 

Visit the report’s microsite through this link: http://wellness.colliers.com/

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