In recent years, workplace wellbeing has been a subject of increasing focus. A pre COVID-19 study conducted by Deloitte in the UK found that one in six people experience mental health issues in the workplace at any given time. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened this impact, meaning employee wellbeing has become even more of a top priority for most organisations.

This focus has been supported by an increasing body of empirical research. Results from a meta-analysis of 339 independent research studies undertaken by the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, which include observations on the wellbeing of over 1.8 million employees globally, shows a strong correlation between employee wellbeing, productivity and business performance.

Wellbeing is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ but an important tool in maximising the productivity and performance of the most important asset to any business, its people.

Workplace wellbeing

Employee expectations

The drive for sound employee wellbeing is not solely led by organisations either, with employees placing high importance on their own physical and mental health, as well as a work-life balance.

According to research by Deloitte, which surveyed 23,000 Millennial and Generation Z respondents across 45 countries, ‘work-life balance’ (25%) and ‘physical and mental health’ (16%) were identified as the most important work aspects beyond revenue and profit.

The younger workforce placing greater importance on their wellbeing has led to the rising trend of flexible working and the expectation of a stimulating and fulfilling work environment. Employees are demanding more from their employers and the office itself has become an important tool to meet these demands.

Employer strategy to attract and retain talent

According to Cushman & Wakefield, 77% of CEOs globally believe that attracting and keeping younger employees is one of the biggest challenges for their organisation. Anywhere from 50% to 200% of a lost employee’s salary is spent on recruiting and onboarding a replacement, not to mention the resulting productivity downtime and intangible cost of integrating a new recruit into a company’s culture.

As part of their talent ‘attraction and retention’ strategies, many organisations have implemented wellbeing programmes that revolve around the office space in which employees operate. Modern fitouts that include ample daylight, greenery and purified air have become the norm, with other amenity options including breakout, collaboration and recreational spaces increasingly expected.

Property managers and developers are responding to this requirement from their ‘customers’ through a range of measures including active street frontages to encourage walking or cycling, sophisticated architectural detail and use of sustainable and wooden building materials, well-located green spaces and effective landscaping to improve productivity, engagement and ultimately, wellbeing.

End-of-trip facilities that include bicycle storage, showers and other similar amenities are now considered an essential requirement by health-conscious employees looking to cycle to work or exercise during office hours.

The office remains a significant tool for employers to attract and retain talent, but it will inevitably continue to evolve as businesses respond to changing employee requirements.

Investors drive change through building standards

For investors, the drivers may be slightly different, but the end result is the same. A happier customer, in this case the tenant, provides tangible financial benefits.

Simply put, if you want to attract and retain premier tenants to your building and better manage your occupancy, cashflow and obsolescence risk, a space that meets their increasing wellbeing expectations is essential.

One way to validate the wellbeing credentials of your asset is through the WELL Building Standard, a performance-based system for ‘measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the building environment that impact human health and wellbeing through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.’

WELL Building Standards are becoming increasingly sought after by investors equipped with the knowledge that demonstrating the wellbeing credentials of their asset through a recognised standard can only maximise the long-term value of their investment.

As employees continue to place a greater emphasis on their physical and mental health, investors, developers, landlords and employers are all responding with initiatives which include a wide variety of office design, fitout and amenity improvements which meet their requirements.