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February 2019 – Edition 23

WORKPLACE WELLBEING: THE WAY FORWARD

The World Economic Forum has highlighted a disconnection between perceptions of employers and employees on workplace wellbeing. According to a survey 56% of employers believe their wellbeing programmes have encouraged employees to live healthier lifestyles – but only 32% of employees agree. The study also established that most employees would NOT (by substantial margins) recommend their employer’s health and wellbeing initiatives to their colleagues.

Radical shift appears to be a strategy with resonance: the Wellcome Trust research foundation is reported to be considering adopting a four-day week, which would make it the first large-scale global employer to do so.

“The workplace wellbeing programmes that will push the envelope will be the ones that indisputably produce healthier workers.”

If it goes ahead, it will be taking a lead from New Zealand insurance company Perpetual Guardian, which switched last year from a five-day 40 hour week, to 32 hours over four days – and found a small net increase in total output. The University of Auckland, which made a study of this initiative, did, nevertheless, detect increased stress among some people who found it more difficult to complete tasks in a shorter timeframe.

For the hotel sector, a 32-hour, four-day week would not make the same sense as for office-based employers. But hospitality does have optimal flexibility, with its 24/7 operations and the ability to tailor work patterns for the simultaneous benefit of employees, guests and business performance.

The workplace wellbeing programmes that will push the envelope will be the ones that indisputably produce healthier workers. Subjective opinion is important but proven statistics will bring increased credibility and priority. Imagine being able to state (unequivocally) that employees become healthier and happier by working for your company.

*If you’re interested in your company participating in a wellbeing return on investment study, please get in touch.

Anni Hood, Chief Executive, Well Intelligence

EXCELLENCE ONLINE AND OFFLINE

Creating memorable experiences and personalised service are priorities for most ‘people focused’ companies. Today (for many companies) that means achieving the right balance of physical and digital interaction along with significant scale. The hotel and travel sector, in particular, has a wealth of opportunity in a market where experience is trumping material purchase.

The We Company (TWC), formerly called WeWork is one example of a model with aspirations to broaden the sectors it caters for. Alongside its re-brand, the company announced an expansion into education, (WeGrow), and the known residential element, (WeLive). Further services it has touted are WeSleep, WeSail and WeBank. The company’s biggest investor SoftBank has invested a further $2billion, on a company valuation of $47billion.

Airbnb also wants to expand its services portfolio, and has recently acquired Denmark-based event space-booking platform Gaest and recently hired an aviation veteran to the core team. Both TWC and Airbnb are intent on following in the steps of Amazon by building on a broadening base that becomes indispensable to the market. They provide services that are more accessible, affordable and convenient but that also focus on optimising human experience.

“Accorlocal marries tech convenience and reach with a physical human community – rather than an online one”

Ibis, the biggest economy brand in the AccorHotels group, has recently committed to a re-positioning of its 900+ portfolio. It will focus on improving the economy level experience, while creating greater appeal for local residents through upgraded design, dining and live music offerings. In 2017 the Accorlocal app had 3000 active users that featured 250 participating hotels in 42 cities throughout France. This enables local inclusivity in a way that other large brands are still grappling with. It marries tech convenience and reach within a physical human community – rather than an online one.

For larger hotel chains and also among smaller independents, being nimble is not a common trait; agility is becoming more prevalent in the mid-scale and budget range hotel chains. The tech element is critical, but so too is the human one. Achieving a sustainable balance between the two is the Holy Grail in all our lives.

Steve Dunne, Chairman, Well Intelligence

TIME FOR A NATIONAL WELLNESS SERVICE?

Primary healthcare is moving towards a virtual reality – and that has profound implications for the wellness sector. In the UK, Digital GP services have been gaining momentum. Trials in London (40,000 people), Birmingham (88,000 people) and North-West Surrey have given residents the opportunity to book video consultations with clinicians at short notice – something virtually impossible in the oversubscribed traditional system.

These video calls represent a tiny fraction of the 307 million GP consultations each year, but that is set to change with the advent of a new NHS contract intended to give all patients the right to online and video consultations by 2021.

Three key providers are leading the charge: Babylon Health, Push Doctor and Kry (Livi in the UK). Significantly, this new approach makes it conceivable for the UK to manage growing demand for primary health services with the existing number of GPs – or even fewer.

“This new approach makes it conceivable for the UK to manage growing demand for primary health services with the existing number of GPs – or even fewer.”

So what does this have to do with the wellness sector? The answer is that it presents a real opportunity, especially for gyms, spas, holistic centres and clinics. A large-scale migration of people from the current in-person appointment system to digital appointment will create efficiencies – but it will also reduce real human contact.

This has a number of implications: a) it re-positions access and need for wellbeing services; b) it is an opportunity to promote wellness efficacy over indulgence; and c) it creates a new feeder market and local anchor for wellness services.

Anni Hood, Chief Executive, Well Intelligence

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