A Management Guide to Employee Wellness

Despite growing awareness of workplace wellness, many employees are still suffering from poor physical and mental health. This problem is more prevalent in Asia, due to stigmatisation, low propensity to self-disclose, hierarchical organisational structures, and lack of access and empowerment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further aggravated the situation, by reshaping the workplace. Not only had employees been struggling to maintain a work-life balance, but they were also provided with insufficient support to facilitate the transition from in-office to remote or hybrid working. Studies (opens a new window) show that among Asia’s workforce, eight in ten are at risk of burnout, and two in five are planning to leave their current job in the next 6 to 12 months.

The importance of creating a stress-free working environment

Workplace wellness impacts the entire company, rather than solely the employees. It is widely recognised that poor physical and mental health is detrimental to productivity. A workplace survey conducted by Rand Europe (opens a new window) recorded a high number of wasted working days in Asian regions, and in particular Hong Kong which had the worst outcomes with almost 46 per cent of employees working more than 50 hours per week whilst the average amount of productive time lost per year amounted to 77.4 days, with staff taking considerably more time off work because of sickness and scoring higher on presenteeism. Other Asian countries ranking high in terms of wasted working days include Malaysia and Thailand with 73.4 and 56 days respectively. Unwellness also contributes to employee turnover, which ultimately can make the business less sustainable. In addition, it increases the cost of work-related injuries and illnesses, placing a heavier financial burden on companies and on society.

In dealing with this situation, companies should adopt a more proactive approach by implementing employee wellness initiatives that raise awareness, and de-stress and motivate employees, such as:

  • setting up amenities to drive healthy behaviours, e.g. ergonomic equipment, fitness facilities, meditation room

  • avoiding meetings that are lengthy and outside of office hours, and giving excessive work to employees

  • giving more flexibility to remote workers, especially those who work across different time zones

  • providing counselling services

  • celebrating Global Wellness Day (which is held annually on the second Saturday of June) to appreciate employees

Learning from previous mistakes

According to one research study (opens a new window), up to 60% of APAC companies are either running or developing corporate wellness programmes. Although there is a rising trend towards adopting these programmes, Asia’s workforce is demanding that companies take a more integrative and holistic approach to addressing workplace wellness by expanding the scope of wellbeing beyond physical comfort and safety to include emotional, social, financial, communal and employee engagement factors.

To ensure successful implementation of corporate wellness programmes, companies are advised to:

  • listen to your employees and personalise programmes that best meet their needs

  • ensure employee privacy is protected

  • ensure managers at all levels are trained to handle related situations

  • try to make your wellness initiatives accessible anytime and anywhere, especially when companies are promoting agility, and where remote working is widely adopted

Lockton is here to offer help

Corporations play a vital role in creating a healthy working environment. Management’s attitude towards employee wellness can be the key factor to success in workplace wellness programmes. Yet, effort from the corporate side alone is not enough. Employees should also be more aware of physical and mental health issues and work collaboratively with their employers to make constructive changes when and where appropriate.

Lockton specialises in employee benefit analytics, consultancy and brokerage services. We are more than happy to assist you in delivering employee benefit programmes that align with your business objectives. If you would like to find out more, please feel free to contact:

Stella Sung, Head of Benefits and Health, Greater China & Korea | +852 2250 2831 | stella.sung@lockton.com

Rachael Tay, Regional Head of Benefits, Asia Pacific | +65 8869 8592 | rachael.tay@lockton.com