Return on humans

Cleveland, Ohio
happy employees
Blog post by Helen Sanders, Ph.D
happy employees

Evidence is mounting that the building environment and design are fundamental for creating increased human performance, and significant movements are afoot within the real estate community as a response. Could this represent the start of a shift away from a traditional first cost-driven return-on-investment (ROI) model to one that is more nuanced?

A new metric “return on humans” is being coined in the real estate world to augment and enhance the typical ROI for buildings. Key drivers for this are (i) the need to improve employee health and wellness to reduce costs, improve productivity and enhance business performance, and (ii) the need to attract and retain top talent.

According to Scott Muldavin in his paper outlining the financial case for sustainability and WELL building, corporate wellness programs are not delivering the expected return in reducing healthcare costs because participation is below 50 percent at most companies. He asserts that wellness incentive programs cost around $700 per person per year (not to mention ~$10,000 per person annually for health insurance) compared with a one-time cost of $100-400 per person to implement the WELL Building Standard, and that the latter passively benefits all occupants, not just those actively participating in wellness programs.

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