The Growing Importance of Corporate Wellness in APAC

The Asia Pacific region  is faced with an imminent workforce dilemma. According to a study by Korn Ferry, by 2020, APAC is revealed to have a labour shortage of 12.3 million workers. This figure is projected on a steep rise of 47 million by 2030, hitting an annual opportunity cost of US$4.238 trillion.

Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore in particular are seen to face the highest deficits in labour.




(Source: Korn Ferry)

With effects of this labour shortage becoming more and more visible in recent years, as Hong Kong and Singapore hits record low unemployment rates, it is critical that corporations start early in implementing strategies to help attract, secure, and retain talent.

Solution to labour shortage in APAC - Corporate wellness programmes

In recent years, there has been a rise in Asia towards the adoption of corporate wellness programmes. According to the CBRE Viewpoint, up to 60% of companies across APAC are either currently running corporate wellness programmes or in the process of introducing corporate wellness into the company.

While previously, corporate wellness programmes were adopted as a reaction to the growing trend for work life balance and seen as a corporate social responsibility initiative, companies now have a better appreciation for corporate wellness programmes. Namely, they are seen as strategic approach to appeal to top talent in the market.

“In Asia-Pacific and globally, the promotion of wellness in the workplace is shifting from a corporate social responsibility consideration to a strategic priority as more companies recognize the role it plays in attracting and retaining staff, and driving business results.”

Victoria Gilbert, associate director of wellness consulting at Colliers International Asia Pacific.

What are the benefits of corporate wellness programmes?

With the rising age of the general workforce due to longer lifespans, people are no longer looking solely at money. With 20% of the Asia Pacific workforce at age 50 or above, people are placing higher value on workplace wellness, and other non-financial factors such as flexible working hours or the freedom to work from home.

In general, people are also putting greater importance on corporate wellness programmes. As seen in a survey across the Asia region by the insurer Cigna, 66% of respondents said that it was important that their employees had a wellness programme in place, with 59% saying that it had direct impact on their decision on whether to join a new company or not.

Other than employee engagement, talent retention, attracting top talent, organisational culture and morale, corporate wellness programmes when implemented properly can also help reduce the cost of health care.

What is at stake for corporations in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong , according to the 2018 Healthiest Workplace by AIA Vitality, on average, it’s estimated that the yearly cost per organisation is at HK$3.04 million.

This was calculated through the survey which found that 16% of employees missed work time in a week due to health problems. According to this, health-related absenteeism and presenteeism made up for a loss of productivity in as high as 30% of working hours of Hong Kong employees in average. The average loss of working days compared to last year increased close to 10 days, from 69.8 days to 78.5 days, well above the average 69.9 days across the markets in Asia Pacific.


What is corporate wellness?

As of now, there is no set requirement as to what corporate wellness looks like across different corporations. However, in general they are programs intended to improve and promote the health and fitness of employees at the workplace.

Thanks to this freedom, there’s a range of possibilities as to how corporations can implement corporate wellness in the workplace. From relatively low cost initiatives such as implementing flexible schedules to more upscale benefits such as cash rewards, and gym membership deals, there’s a lot businesses can do to make the workplace more appealing to talent. On top of in-house corporate wellness programmes, there’s also many ready-made plans in the market for businesses to enroll into.

Popular corporate wellness programmes include:

  • Flexible working schedules

  • Mental health support /Counselling

  • Better office environment/desk setups

  • Giving employees discounts on their monthly health insurance premiums

  • Cash rewards for participation in fitness building activities

  • Providing discounted or free gym memberships

  • Healthy snack options at work

  • Access to smoking cessation and weight-management programs

  • Increased/unlimited paid time off

Measuring the ROI of corporate wellness programmes

While the idea of wellness programmes can be very enticing, the results may vary from business to business. All this boils down to how well the wellness programme is implemented to address the given concern.

In the example of Johnson & Johnson and their decade long corporate wellness investment targeted at employee’s social, mental, and physical health, paid off. According to the leaders at Johnson & Johnson,  their wellness programme saved an estimate of USD$250 million in health care cost which amounted to $2.71 for every dollar spent.

Best Practices to Implementing Corporate Wellness Programmes

To help secure returns, it is best advised that businesses dedicate more resource in planning a more comprehensive and strategic approach towards their corporate wellness programme. General best practices include:

  • Determining the main objective of the wellness programme

  • Leveraging existing resources

  • Starting small, and attuning the programme to the needs of the company

  • Considering the ROI and value of investment

  • Engaging with employees to learn about their needs about concerns


As the Asia Pacific competition for the top talent becomes fiercer and fiercer, businesses will most likely be coming out with more elaborate corporate wellness programmes to attract and retain talent. For HR professional, the time is now, to start thinking about their long term workforce strategy as corporate wellness becomes a norm across the market. Start early, and plan for the future.

Meanwhile, get in touch with Links, and start building the workforce of your future. With 20 years of recruitment in Asia, Links provides specialised recruitment services, covering major functions including, finance and accountinghuman resources and administrationsales and marketing, as well as temporary and contracting. Get in touch with one of our representatives today to learn more.

Aside from recruitment, Links international also provides a range of award-winning HR outsourcing services, from payroll processingvisa application, to PEO/ EOR Secondment. Learn more, at today.

Links Key Article Takeaways:

  • Corporations should start early in addressing the labour shortage problem across Asia Pacific. Strategise for the long term by implementing corporate wellness in the company.

  • Know your main objectives before building a corporate wellness program. Make sure to account for the ROI and VOI before implementation.

  • Start small, and leverage what is already in your disposal.



Links International is an industry leader in innovative HR outsourcing with services such as payroll outsourcingvisa applicationEmployer of Record (EOR), recruitment and more! Contact us for more information on how we can help leverage your HR function.

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