Corporate wellness in Asia Pacific is no longer a ‘nice to have’, with many companies recognising the strategic and business benefits of employee wellbeing. but how can wellness and fitness providers jump into this booming market?
For a long time, corporate wellness in Asia Pacific meant nutrition seminars and 10,000-a-day step challenges. But, with many businesses finally having access to data that shows employee wellbeing saves money and increases productivity, that is all changing. And, that means increased opportunities for wellness and fitness providers to share their innovative solutions with corporate clients.
“The sector in Asia Pacific has changed dramatically in recent years. There is a lot more recognition that corporate wellness goes beyond the physical. There has been a big shift to a holistic approach looking at things like sleep and stress, and use of technology such as wearables,” explains Scott Montgomery, CEO of WellteQ, a technology-driven corporate wellness program provider based in Singapore.
WellteQ has grown rapidly since launching in 2014, expanding to 33 countries and counting clients such as global life insurance company Prudential, Australian airline Qantas, global communications marketing firm Edelman and global logistics service provider Toll Group.
Growth and innovation
A report released in May by Transparency Market Research estimates that the Asia Pacific corporate wellness market will reach US$7.4 billion by the end of 2024. Companies recognising corporate wellness as a strategic priority, and also jobseekers increasingly expecting wellness programs within the workplace, especially millennials, are driving this growth, along with an abundance of new technologies.
“Everyone wants data. What we are seeing is the digital transformation of the HR function to help save costs and develop human capital strategies. Real-time analysis of vehicles has traditionally been used in the transport, aviation and logistics industries – now we are able to correlate vehicle telematics with real-time driver biometrics. We can also use a slightly different approach to calculate cognitive performance – powerful in industries such as investment banking where decisions are literally making or losing millions of dollars”, confirms Montgomery.
However, while more and more companies are adopting wearables for employees, there are still privacy concerns that need to be overcome. Fitness and wellness providers are well placed to help HR professionals strike that balance between generating useful data and allaying fears from employees.
Last year, Virgin Pulse, one of the largest digital employee health providers in the world, tracked 423 million healthy habits across their 1000+ clients around the world and won best corporate wellness provider in Malaysia at the HR Vendor of the Year awards. Larger companies like Virgin Pulse are also making inroads in developed markets such as China, Japan and Singapore.
Japan has seen steady growth in the sector since amendments to its Industrial Safety and Health Act in 2015 mandated health check-ups for workers and employees, and similar laws are hitting government agendas across the region. Wellness providers looking to enter the Asia Pacific market should familiarise themselves with those countries that will soon have a regulatory need for corporate wellness solutions.
Localisation is key
In emerging markets such as Vietnam, Cambodia and India there is still plenty of opportunities for providers looking to make their mark and offer localised solutions.
“In India, corporates are increasingly offering wellness programmes for their employees, such as health check-ups, dietary advice, personalised counselling sessions, as well as tele-counselling sessions. Although it is just a beginning, these wellness programs have proven to be a useful device for change at work. As more and more employees are making wellness a priority, owners, and occupiers will have little choice but to adopt it,” noted Surabhi Arora, Senior Associate Director, Research at Colliers International India upon the release of Colliers International’s Asia Pacific report Who? What WELL!
Global real estate specialists, Colliers explores themes in its report such as Air, Movement and Mind and Sound to cover all aspects of the corporate wellness landscape, and provides examples of initiatives from the region. For instance, Citi Tower in Hong Kong offers activity incentive programs and nutritional information in food prep areas suitable to the mix of local and foreign staff that occupies the building.
Montgomery agrees that fitness and wellness providers need to do their research before entering an Asia Pacific market. “You have to localise your messages. For instance, India is a no alcohol, vegetarian society for the most part, so nutrition advice can’t incorporate reducing meat or alcohol – it’ll achieve the opposite of your intentions for health engagement.”