Return to the office drives higher well-being: Lululemon report

A return to the office may actually be good for your health, according to Lululemon’s second annual Global Wellbeing Report.

The athleisure retailer surveyed 10,000 people in 10 markets across the world, including U.S., Canada and the UK, and found that well-being is higher among those who have returned to the workplace compared with those who expect to return full-time, part-time, or will not return to the workplace at all.

Employees also have higher expectations of their employers and want long-term changes implemented. Forty-eight percent of employees are looking for more flexibility in working hours and location, followed closely by increased mental and physical health support.

Still, 54% of respondents are worried about COVID-19 exposure at work and 52% are concerned a return to the office will mean less personal time.

This year, Lululemon’s Global Wellbeing Index rose by one percentage point to 66, driven by gains in mental health, but there is still a critical need to improve holistic well-being, which factors in physical, mental, and social happiness.

“Holistic well-being continues to be a challenge with only 29% of respondents feeling a high degree of well-being,” Lululemon’s CEO Calvin McDonald told Yahoo Finance Live.

Gen Z (those born from 1997-2012) continue to face the most challenging scores. Just 22% indicate strong overall well-being. They scored lower mental and social well-being than any other generation and are one-and-a-half times more likely to not be able to manage stress effectively. Gen Z also cites higher levels of loneliness — 52% vs. 40% of the total population.

McDonald said people have developed better coping strategies throughout the pandemic to improve their mental well-being, including physical activity, spending time outdoors, and taking breaks to relax throughout the day.

“These coping skills, many of them aren’t new,” McDonald said. “It’s the discipline of using them, but we’re definitely seeing that people are finding ways to incorporate them more into their daily activities, which is helping to impact their overall well-being.”

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Other highlights from the report include the consequences of spending too much time on social media.

According to Lululemon’s Global Wellbeing report, Gen Z spends the most time on social media, averaging 3 hours per day, and report the most negative impacts including comparing themselves to others.

“Social media helps us feel more connected to family, friends, and loved ones. But there is a diminishing return if you spend too much time, and it can weigh negatively on your overall being,” McDonald said.

Fifty-four percent of respondents said that social media helps them to feel connected, but those who spend more than one hour a day report stronger negative impacts on their social well-being, including feeling like they are missing out on social connections and comparing themselves to others.

The negative impacts of social media are felt more acutely by Gen Z who spend the most time on social media, averaging three hours per day.

In addition to its Global Wellbeing report, Lululemon also announced that mental health first-aid training will be available to all of its 25,000 employees globally starting in 2023. The training will include giving workers the tools to identify signs of emotional distress and connecting them with the appropriate resources, including the retailer’s health benefits.

Lululemon’s workplace culture and values helped the retailer rank number nine on Glassdoor’s 2022 Top 100 Best Places To Work in the U.S. Other retailers in the Active Lifestyle space to make this year’s list include Vans at number 85, Scheels at 90 and REI at 95.

Alexis Christoforous is an anchor and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.

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