Companies report increase in productivity through focus on wellness, finds CoreNet/CBRE report

by Brianna Crandall — February 20, 2017 — Undoubtedly encouraging for those who made New Years’ Resolutions to get healthier and perform better at work, a survey of corporate real estate (CRE) executives at large corporations conducted by global CRE professional association CoreNet Global and worldwide property advisor CBRE Group has found that when a company focuses on employee health and wellness, workers report increases in engagement, retention rates increase, and absenteeism declines.

The survey saw responses from 211 senior level executives in the corporate real estate profession: 66 percent were CRE end-users (occupiers), 25 percent were in technology firms, and 23 percent were in financial services firms. A full 89 percent of the firms represented in the survey reported that they are focused on health and wellness initiatives.

Tim Venable, senior vice president at CoreNet Global, stated:

Corporations that take an active role in managing health and wellness programs for employees are seeing positive returns on those investments. As the line between work and personal life is increasingly blurred due to technology, remote work and 24/7 access to information, employers are taking measures to ensure employee health and wellness.

The respondents ranked wellness design and construction elements in the following order of importance:

  1. Ergonomic furniture
  2. Lighting quality
  3. Daylight and views
  4. Thermal comfort
  5. Air quality

Among others, programmatic features that companies are offering include:

  • Operating gyms, health clubs and wellness clinics;
  • Implementing green cleaning standards;
  • Managing a bike share program;
  • Changing food options and vendors; and
  • Offering fitness challenges, yoga classes, mental relaxation and group meditation.

Fully 90 percent of the firms surveyed have either implemented or are piloting active design — buildings that encourage physical activity, and a similar percentage have either piloted or are implementing workplace designs that offer and encourage employees to work from multiple areas.

When companies have focused on wellness efforts with specific goals, the efforts have paid off, according to the survey:

  • 19 percent reported a decrease in absenteeism;
  • 25 percent reported increased retention; and
  • 47 percent reported increased employee engagement.

Julie Whelan, head of Americas Occupier Research at CBRE, noted:

Employee Health and Wellness is no longer a programmatic afterthought, rather a deliberate workplace strategy that top employers are addressing at all project stages — from idea conception through space delivery and management.

Matt Toner, managing director of the CBRE Institute, added:

This increased focus is tied to a clear ROI for the business, where even small yet targeted adjustments in CRE capital and operating strategies have proven to increase employee engagement, productivity and retention rates — each of which supports the longevity of organizational success and profitability.

To download a copy of the slides presented, see the Corporate Real Estate’s Evolving Role: Supporting Employee Health and Wellness PDF file on the CoreNet Global Web site.