EUROPE SET TO GAIN FROM US-CHINA QUARRELS
Tensions between the US and China will result in only one winner in the wellness industry – Europe. The reason is simple: the decline in Chinese tourists visiting the US is already visible, impacting the $60 billion that Chinese consumers spend each year on American services (of which travel and tourism is a major component). In the first week of October, Chinese airline reservations to the US plunged by 42 per cent compared to the same period last year. This could get much worse. China hasn’t done it yet, but should it decide to prevent its citizens and discourage its students from travelling to the US, the impact on US services trade with China (which contrary to trade in goods is positive) would be quite dramatic.
“Should [China] prevent citizens and students from visiting the US, the impact…would be quite dramatic.”
How many of the 3 million-plus Chinese traveling to the US each year will decide to go to Tuscany instead of Napa Valley? Or to the Alps instead of Colorado? Nobody knows exactly, but it’s a fair assumption that a sizeable number will do so. Hence, European travel and tourism in general, and the wellness industry in particular, will become a net beneficiary of US-China trade tensions and rising competition. As a reminder, Chinese tourists spend an average of $6,900 on each trip to the US.
Thierry Malleret, Managing partner Well Intelligence
BEST WORKPLACE: WHEN LESS IS MORE
New Zealand based Trust company Perpetual Guardian has moved to a permanent four-day week – and found its productivity and wellbeing both improved. Following a successful trial earlier this year, which showed a 20% increase in productivity, and a 7% reduction in stress levels, the company’s 250 employees will work four eight hour days but will be paid for five. Perpetual Guardian’s managing director reported that since the announcement, he has been contacted by 50 companies from around the world, seeking further insight.
In the UK the hospitality sector is beginning to follow suit. Michelin-starred restaurant 21212 in Edinburgh is also introducing a four-day work week without reducing salaries. The HR Director of an iconic London hotel and participant in London’s Healthy Workplace Charter, meanwhile, argued that hospitality is one of the sectors with the greatest potential to apply flexible working hours principles and compressed hours arrangements. That’s because 24/7, 365-day operations are common in the industry.
“The attractiveness of companies will not only be based on nurturing leadership and a progressive career path – but also on the extent to which the organisation has created and purposely designed an ecosystem of wellbeing”
This exemplifies how definitions of the ‘best workplace’ are set to change. The attractiveness of companies will not only be based on nurturing leadership and a progressive career path – but also on the extent to which the organisation has created and purposely designed an ecosystem of wellbeing. Where that is the case, employees will become healthier by default because their options will be more wellbeing-focused as a norm.
The bottom line: working and living in an environment where wellbeing is increased will not be a privilge or something that people must strive for. It will become a culture designed into the fabric and natural ecosystem of workspace and home.
Anni Hood, Managing partner Well Intelligence
THE POLITICS OF HAPPINESS
A recent academic paper ‘Subjective Wellbeing and Elections’ by PhD student George Ward examines the inclination of the electorate to vote for or against a governing party, based on their reported subjective wellbeing. It finds that the higher the citizen’s ‘felt’ levels of wellbeing, the more likely they are to report an intention to vote for the governing party. The opposite is also found to be true – the lower their levels of wellbeing the more likely they would be to vote for an alternative party.
This may seem intuitively obvious but until recently, the analysis of voting habits has been based only on the state of the economy, whether during a prosperous period or a downturn. In 2010 David Cameron tried in vain to introduce a ‘happiness index’ to calibrate levels of wellbeing against GDP. For government it was a prescient idea, albeit one that was heavily criticised at the time.
“Happiness measures are strongly predictive of the electoral fate of governing parties at general elections”
Ward’s conclusion from his own study is unambiguous. “The empirical analysis presented in this paper shows at the national level – across 15 countries over four decades – that happiness measures are strongly predictive of the electoral fate of governing parties at general elections.” Despite voters’ general lack of in-depth knowledge about political and economic issues, he says, “they typically have one comparatively hard bit of data: they know what life has been like during the incumbent’s administration”.
Why does this matter? With increasing evidence of wellbeing’s influence on elections, we can expect a greater emphasis on related policy and legislation in democratic societies. Whilst private sector workplace initiatives are proliferating, expect there to be more stringent requirements laid out by government. One thing is clear: wellbeing value makes a difference at the highest level.