East London, 2018.
From our office here in Shoreditch, we’re exposed to our fair share of lifestyle vloggers, hot yoga devotees and coffee shop creatives but whilst we might roll an eye at a lunchtime rooftop meditation session or shake our heads at the 50-person queue at the latest flexitarian food truck, it’s fair to say that when it comes to taking care of both mind and body, our Shoreditch neighbours are on to something.
They’re onto that dirty word we know as Wellness. And they have a point. Wellness is not some esoteric practice that requires you to travel to India, cast off your earthly possessions and move into an ashram; it’s the process of acquiring the tools we need to achieve a state of physical, mental and social wellbeing that is a cornerstone of that thing we’re all searching for: Quality of life.
The events industry is a notoriously pressurised environment so work-related stress is something we pay close attention to; a Career Cast survey places it in a surprisingly high fifth place, behind the likes of firefighters and airline pilots. And while we may have chosen a career in events for its unique challenges and fast-paced nature, the effects of tight deadlines, long hours on site and juggling time zones can take their toll. That’s why we’ve implemented morning yoga classes, discounted gym memberships, healthy office snacks and put a stop to the crates of Diet Coke that used to arrive at the beginning of each week… all in the name of employee wellness.
Recent figures suggest that 6 in 10 employees feel stressed because of their work and whilst a certain amount of work-related pressure can help ensure you meet that looming deadline, the long-term effects of prolonged exposure of high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) can lead to a host of health problems, both physical and mental, which can be disastrous for both employee and employer. The financial cost of poor mental and physical health to businesses in Britain alone is estimated to cost £26-£40 billion per year, equivalent to more than £1,000 per employee.
Research indicates that for every 80p spent on promoting wellness amongst your staff, you save £4 in costs related to recruitment and training, absenteeism and presenteeism. Poor employee productivity, or presenteeism, is the term they’ve introduced to describe someone physically at work but not being able to perform their proper function. This may be due to any number of reasons: distracting colleagues, office stereo wars, workload stress, lack of focus, or simply a drop in motivation. However it manifests, presenteeism causes businesses to experience a knock-on effect on the quality and amount of work produced, which goes on to hit them where it counts – right in the pocket.
Across Europe, 74% of senior managers point to wellbeing initiatives as a way to attract the best possible staff and a similar number trust that their current employees would feel more motivated and engaged in their work if employee wellness was an important focus. So when all’s said and done, if wellness promotion really is the key to productivity, how high should it be on your business agenda?