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Not Investing in People is a False Economy – Edition 32

NOT INVESTING IN PEOPLE IS A FALSE ECONOMY

The most productive countries in the world are European and largely Scandinavian.  According to Expert Market, the top five in 2017 were (ranked in order): Luxembourg; Norway; Switzerland; Denmark; and Iceland.

The UK came in at number 17, down one place from 16 the previous year. Workers in the UK put in an average of 1676 hours in the course of the year, with productive output of £17.37 per person per hour; by comparison, those in Germany (11th in the rankings) work an average 1363 hours annually, with an output of £23.30. Most economists still see this measure as a fundamental foundation of prosperity.

This week, a report in the Financial Times from the Conference Board (a US non-profit research group) cites Britain as “the only large advanced economy likely to see a decline in productivity growth this year”. The Bank of England blames Brexit, and it’s true that the uncertainty surrounding The UK’s departure from the European Union has contributed to this dismal picture. But the UK has never done well in the productivity stakes compared to the rest of Europe.

Growing awareness of wellness, and focus on the holistic health of human beings –every company’s source of productivity – presents an opportunity for change.

Growing awareness of wellness, and focus on the holistic health of human beings – who are every company’s source of productivity – does present an opportunity for that to change. This year, wellbeing has started tipping into mainstream, and it’s vital that companies monitor how their investment in a more wellbeing-orientated culture translates into happier, healthier workers, and better performing businesses. Higher productivity, in other words.

Anni Hood, Chief Executive, Well Intelligence

THE HUMAN VALUE OF DOING THE RIGHT THING

Hotel chain The Dorchester Collection is at the centre of a human rights storm after its owner, the Sultan of Brunei, gave his approval to a harsh new penal code in Brunei. It means that anyone found guilty of adultery, gay sex or heresy in the Sultanate could be put to death by stoning.

As a consequence, the Dorchester Collection’s hotels around the world – and their innocent staff – are facing strident protests and the threat of boycott. There’s little sign of it going away soon; in a connected digital world, the old-fashioned hope that today’s news will line tomorrow’s cat litter tray no longer applies.

The movement formed of people, companies and governments prepared to demonstrate their values and their support for human rights through taking direct action is on the march and growing. It extends beyond individual activists: in this instance a number of organisations, both public and private sector, have moved or cancelled events because of the Sultan’s actions. The financial impact on his company has yet to become clear.

“The movement formed of people, companies and governments prepared to demonstrate their values and their support for human rights through taking direct action is growing.”

The Dorchester Collection’s employees are at the sharp end, and face the risk of less work available and potential job losses but that isn’t the intention of those withdrawing patronage. What is their intention is to send a multi-lateral message that repressive laws are no longer acceptable, anywhere.

The positive side of this is the collective value that all those participating in the protest place on humanity. This fuels wellbeing on a number of fronts: cultural, and in terms of leadership and life satisfaction.

Steve Dunne, Chairman, Well Intelligence

THE SEX SLOWDOWN: FAMINE OR DIET?

Big questions are being asked. Are we in a world of diminishing love, and therefore dwindling happiness? Or is more restrained sexuality among young people a progressive development?

According to a new survey by the University of Chicago, almost a quarter of young American adults are not sexually active – some 23% of 18-29 year olds had no intimate relationships at all in 2018. This trend relates especially to men. Over the past decade male ‘incels’ (involuntary celibates) have tripled to 28% of the population; for women the corresponding figure is 18%. More than half (51%) said they didn’t have a romantic partner, compared to 33% in 2004.

Coincidentally or not, there’s been a downward trajectory in happiness among young adults. In 1972 the proportion of 18-34 year old Americans who said they were “very happy” was 59%; by 2018 that had fallen to 25%.

Seen through one end of the lens, the picture presented is of a growing loneliness epidemic. Alternatively, increased celibacy could be seen as a positive development. Is delayed gratification more meaningful? As Yvonne Roberts puts it: “Are we satiated? As a commodity, is junk sex now on the wane, just like shopping on the high street?”

“Our self-esteem and biological welfare benefit from intimacy, and rationally we know that sex matters”

We know that intimacy is a valuable part of wellbeing. Our self-esteem and biological welfare benefit from intimacy, and rationally we know that sex matters; happier people contribute better to society, perform better in their jobs and are more likely to be physically healthy. But it seems the younger generation is choosing to take more care and be more selective when choosing an intimate partner.

Whichever way you interpret the trend, these shifts are significant and mean that people, particularly in the age group outlined, are leading different lives. That lifestyle impacts the decisions they make as a consumer, an employee, a citizen and a human being. Society must respond accordingly.

Anni Hood, Chief Executive, Well Intelligence

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