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US developer woos hard hats with free haircuts, massages

New York

FOR one New York developer, the road to construction workers' happiness is paved with free massages.

They are part of a slate of wellness amenities that Tishman Speyer, the firm that helped build Yankee Stadium and owns properties across the world, is offering at a project that's under construction in Manhattan's Hudson Yards area.

With the labour market tight in New York as new office projects flood the city, Tishman is giving construction workers some of the same perks it provides tenants through an online platform dubbed Zo, including haircuts and fitness classes.

"The construction workers who make our projects come alive are very important stakeholders to us," said Tishman's chief executive officer Rob Speyer. "If we can help make the work site healthier and happier and more productive, it's good for them and it's good for us."

The company is testing the app for construction workers at The Spiral, a 65-storey office tower that will count Pfizer and AllianceBernstein Holding among its tenants.

Zo started in 2017 for office tenants at Rockefeller Center and has since spread to about 35 other Tishman properties in the US and Europe.

At the Spiral, more than 400 workers have signed up for the programme, which may be expanded to other projects, Tishman said.

Earlier this week, a handful of workers were getting haircuts inside a trailer at the site, a quiet respite from roaring machines and clanking metal outside.

The programme has taken some getting used to, but workers are warming up to it, said Carl Haase, an emergency medical technician stationed at The Spiral who dropped in for a trim.

Every morning, there's a "stretch-and-flex" exercise to get workers ready for the day, and a few dozen have joined a fitness challenge that awards prizes to those who can lose the most weight. One guy has dropped about 8kg in three weeks, Mr Haase said.

"The guys are a happier bunch," he said. "I hope it changes the way construction sites work." BLOOMBERG