A recent survey of corporate real estate executives at large corporations conducted by CoreNet Global and CBRE Group, Inc. 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% were corporate real estate end-users (occupiers), 25% were in technology firms, and 23% were in financial services firms. Eighty-nine percent of the firms represented in the survey reported that they are focused on health and wellness initiatives. health
“Corporations that take an active role in managing health and wellness programs for employees are seeing positive returns on those investments,” said Tim Venable, senior vice president at CoreNet Global, the leading professional association serving the corporate real estate profession. “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 survey respondents ranked wellness design and construction elements in the following order of importance.
- Ergonomic furniture
- Lighting quality
- Daylight and views
- Thermal comfort
- 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.
Ninety percent of the firms surveyed have either implemented or are piloting active design — buildings that encourage physical activity. 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. Nineteen percent reported a decrease in absenteeism, 25% reported increased retention, and 47% reported increased employee engagement.
“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,” said Julie Whelan, head of Americas occupier research at CBRE.
“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,” said Matt Toner, managing director of the CBRE Institute.
The WELL Building Standard is referenced in materials from CoreNet Global that is related to the recent survey. Administered by Delos, a wellness real estate and technology firm, the standard has been used by CBRE for its own global corporate headquarters in Los Angeles. In 2013, CBRE became the first company in the world to achieve WELL Certification for a commercial office space through the WELL Building Standard™ pilot program. CBRE plans to pursue WELL Certification for at least 100 buildings, sites or offices managed by or associated with CBRE worldwide. Additionally, CBRE plans to professionally accredit 50 CBRE employees through the WELL Accredited Professional (WELL AP) program.