The Leader Magazine

MAR 2019

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the leader March 2019 37 1. Workplace Wellness Programs Study. Soeren Mattke, Hangsheng Liu, John P. Caloyeras, Christina Y. Huang, Kristin R. Van Busum, Dmitry Khodyakov and Victoria Shier. RAND Corporation. 2013. kinds of workers' rights and benefits in terms of minimum vacation time, maximum work hours, labor protections, etc." t he business case for a healthy workplace All of the above notwithstanding, businesses still need to weigh costs versus potential ROI and benefits to the organization. "Some companies look at wellness strategies as a cost, but it is an investment in people that pays back many times over in terms of reducing turnover, retention, engagement and attracting new staff," said Joseph Nazareth, head of Group HSEQ & Corporate Responsibility at ISS World Services. A RAND study conducted in 2012 that reviewed PepsiCo's workplace wellness program found that companies can generate close to a 4:1 return on investment by focusing on the high-risk, high-cost segment of the workforce. 1 "Essentially, what the study was saying is that it is important to offer a wellness program for everybody, but design the wellness program in a way that provides more resources and more support to those higher-risk, higher-cost employees," said Nebeyou Abebe, vice president, health & well- being for Sodexo North America. Another argument that supports investment in wellbeing can be found by comparing the average corporate spend on energy costs, which is $5 per square foot (psf) and the amount spent on rent, which is about $50-$60 psf, to the typical spend on people, which is several hundred dollars psf. "We're investing all this time and effort trying to trim energy costs, but really the people cost is almost 100 times that. So, there is real ROI if you can get people to be healthier, more productive and more engaged," said Spilger. Companies adopt different strategies Organizations follow different approaches to workplace wellbeing strategies. One option is to follow guidelines for WELL or Fitwel standards. Similar to LEED, WELL certification takes into account a property's design, construction and operation. For example, WELL offers points for buildings that provide good ventilation and select low-toxic building materials. "We find that organizations consider certification largely in order to differentiate themselves from the competition and attract clients as well as top talent. In other words, they see a huge marketing value," said Simone Skopek, manager of JLL's Green + Productive Workplace program, and author of SMART Green + Productive Workplace. Other organizations are primarily interested in meeting certain scientifically proven criteria to maximize the wellness and productivity of all their employees and want to provider a certain standard of health, wellness and comfort, without necessarily being certified, she said. Some organizations prefer a combination of the above two approaches or have a more laid-back philosophy that might include offerings such as healthy snacks and an on-site fitness center or complimentary gym membership. The most effective and efficient strategy of large global organizations is a portfolio approach that begins with a high-level assessment of each site to find out where the problems lie, and what features the top-performing sites have in common, said Skopek. This allows problems to be recognized and corrected, and once the basics are addressed, firms can expand to a variety of differentiators and perks, such as ultra-purified water and healthy snacks to on-site yoga and rooftop gardens. In most cases, wellbeing strategies are multi-faceted and there is no cookie-cutter approach, with strategies looking more and more at employee experience. The key is to tailor strategies to fit a particular workforce, or even workers at a specific location. That being said, there are common elements that companies could aim for in a basic wellbeing package, such as making sure a space has good air quality and access to natural light. Firms are also increasingly trying to encourage movement by offering standing desks, or making simple changes, such as removing trash cans at individual desks, which forces people to get up out of their chair and walk to throw something away. Comfort is another key component and is a broad umbrella that can include many things, such as ergonomics, temperature, lighting, acoustics and managing distractions. C re plays an important role The traditional function of CRE has been to provide the optimal amount and quality of space to house the activities of the organization, while at the same time efficiently managing the operating costs of those facilities. Increasingly, CRE plays a bigger role in helping to support the business enterprise. There is growing pressure on CRE teams to deliver on issues that were not on their radar a few years ago, such as maximizing productivity, supporting a dynamic workforce, and attracting and retaining talent by providing a workplace culture that supports innovation, corporate social responsibility, and workplace health and wellbeing. The design and configuration of space has a direct impact on wellbeing, and CRE now must look at the physical environment through that health- and-wellbeing lens. One of the challenges that organizations face is getting employees to participate in wellbeing programs and use the services and amenities that are made available. Therein lies a strong case for why CRE teams are in a position to play an important role in cultivating health and wellbeing in the workplace. Choosing or designing space that supports wellbeing, such as adding more natural light, is something that benefits everyone whether they choose to participate in a wellness program or not. "The next level is to really be intentional about serving employees' pain points and not just creating something that looks nice on the surface," said Arantes. For example, having a gym is great, but it also is important to consider obstacles that prevent people from utilizing facilities, such as parents that have to make additional arrangements for childcare before or after the workday. "You have to look at things holistically and how it is fitting into people's lifestyles and what you can do to help them lead a healthier, more balanced life," said Arantes. Special thanks to the following companies for their research assistance: Cushman & Wakefield, Deloitte Consulting LLP, ISS World Services A/S, JLL, Newmark Global Strategy, Sodexo North America, and Steelcase. Beth Mattson-Teig is a freelance business writer and editor who specializes in commercial real estate and finance topics.

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