ISS Research: Health and well-being can improve profits through enhanced productivity

In a society where work-related stress is sharply on the rise and burnouts are not uncommon, only 15% of adults working full-time for an employer are highly enthusiastic about and engaged in their work. This leaves businesses facing tremendous issues and creates declines in productivity levels and, potentially, innovation.

But despite its seriousness - this is not the only challenge.

The 2018 business landscape is also characterized by an intensive war for talent, a changing workforce composition where younger candidates need to work alongside the elderly, a growing diversity of staff, and a very dynamic labor market.

Combined, these problems put completely new requirements on how workplaces should be developed and managed.

Unlike in the past, where a workplace represented yet another physical asset, the workplace nowadays should be viewed as a tool to help drive better performance.

By the right design and service-related outset, the workplace can help companies attract the right employees. Paired with workplace services and care, companies can facilitate an environment where people want to stay and where different generations with different needs can thrive alongside each other.

Strong focus on employee health and well-being is a key

How can companies combat those challenges? CoreNet Global members questioned as part of a 2017 survey conducted by ISS and CoreNet Global reveal a clear answer; a strong focus on health and well-being agenda is crticial.

The survey showed that more than 33% of respondents believe that a focus on health and well-being in the workplace has a direct, positive impact on talent attraction and retention. Additional 24% believe that driving the health and well-being agenda in the workplace can help to improve profitability through enhanced productivity.

This also reflects how companies measure the impact of their health and well-being initiatives. For example, 54% of the respondents use "increase in employee satisfaction"  as their main KPI when measuring how such programmes add to the company's bottom line. A reported 51.3% use "improvement in employee engagement" as their main tracking parameter, while 44.7% measure the impact by considering the proportional "increase in employee retention".

Disconnect between demand and current state

Even though Corporate Real Estate and Facility Management teams believe that an increased focus on Health and Well-being in the workplace can help them win the war for talent, grow productivity and improve their bottom line, our research also shows that a misalignment persists in health and well-being demands and the reality delivered.


Most survey respondents already supply their employees with basic health and wellbeing related amenities, such as designated tea and coffee areas, lunch areas, access to beverages, fruit and vegetables, healthy food options and programs to help to manage stress.

Looking at the employee requests however, we see that demands differ from the current state. While basic health and well-being amenities (such as access to fruit, beverages and other healthy food options) are in high demand, employees are to a greater extent, requesting access to fitness rooms and healthy workplace design.


What’s the best practice to workplace health and wellbeing?

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It has been validated by several studies that using "green retrofitting" to provide employees with a view that includes more natural scenery can improve well-being. When exposed to nature, employees exhibit reduced signs of stress, including levels of frustration, increased patience, and overall satisfaction.

For Corporate Real Estate and Facility Management professionals, updating or retrofitting the current work environment - with, for example, more greenery in the office environment, more walk-and-talk meetings, access to easy-to-use fitness equipment - is highly recommended and worthwhile.

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The 2025 health and well-being outlook

While a retrofit of current space and amenities can work as a quick win, growing the current state of employee health and wellbeing, with any strategic impact requires a long-term focus.

In terms of health and well-being amenities, our research revealed that in 2025,  survey respondents expect to provide their employees with advanced lighting, including exposure to more natural light. This is followed b byy biophilic air treatment (using plants to naturally filter the air), personalised health, a wellness concierge and stress-monitoring bracelets.

When asked to select their top five health and well-being priorities heading toward the year 2025, suvey respondents were clear. Securing health insurance for their employees is a key priority, followed by enabling flexible working and giving employees the opportunities to exercise.

Given the general outlook, there is no doubt our industry is in strong agreement about the positive impact that an increased focus on health and well-being programmes can have on employee-engagement rates, productivity and overall competitiveness.

And even though employees demand more than what the majority of employers can currently deliver, long-term plans are in place to make things better for the people around us.

So what stands in the way of making this happen?

A large majority of respondents - 71.3% - say budgetary constraints.

However, turn things around a little bit and consider the positive correlation between employee engagement, well-being, productivity and company competitiveness, as well as the negative correlation if well-being initiatives are absent. Can you afford not to?

This article was originally published in the June 2018 edition of the CoreNet Global Leader Magazine.


Joseph Nazareth
Head of Group Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) and Corporate Responsibility