- HR News and Trends
- 6 Ways to encourage your team to get outside – Mental Health Awareness Week 2021
This Mental Health Awareness Week’s (10 – 16 May 2021) theme is nature and after a year of staring at screens in our spare rooms, we thought it apt to reconsider how we take breaks and how you can encourage your team to get outside on theirs.
After over a year of staying inside, getting outside should be exciting. But for lots of us it can feel overwhelming and scary to step out into the unknown again.
We all know that spending time outside in nature can work wonders for physical and mental health. We can boost our vitamin D levels and in turn our mood, which will inevitably translate into increased creativity, productivity and problem-solving abilities.
So when getting outdoors can be such a benefit, why don’t we encourage our employees to put on their walking shoes?
Why you should encourage your team to get outside
I’ve already mentioned that getting outside can boost our vitamin D levels, but it’s so much more than that.
- Can reduce stress levels
- Be a mental refresher
- Improve physical health
- And might even be linked to reduced blood pressure and lower levels of anxiety and depression. Not to mention the potential positive impact on obesity, diabetes and even cancer.
When we’re cooped up inside all the time, we’re bound to feel frustrated with life. We’ve all felt it – the languishing feeling that’s been plaguing our pandemic lives.
6 Ways to encourage your team members to enjoy nature
So now that we know how getting outside can boost your employee’s mental and physical health, let’s encourage them to!
1 – Walking meetings
One of the latest trends I’ve seen is the rise of the walking meeting.
This is where people take their less involved meetings – for example, the ones where they would usually be on mute and only occasionally contribute – and join the call while on a walk around the block.
Zoom’s ‘dial-in’ feature is built to make this easy for everyone. All your employees need is a pair of earphones, a phone and some trainers and they’re good to go.
This new way of taking meetings is excellent for promoting mental and physical health. And all you need to do to encourage your team members to get moving is to do it yourself in your next call.
2 – Step challenges
Team or company-wide step challenges are another great way to get your team outdoors.
Our team loves a step challenge. We recently challenged our employees to get walking and counting their steps. We would set a landmark as a step goal – for us that looked like ‘walking’ the 874 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats or from our office to Lapland!
Everyone would add their daily step counts into a spreadsheet and each week we calculated how much further we would have to go.
This was such a fun team building exercise that encouraged some friendly competitiveness and the team to get outdoors and active.
3 – Exercise to fundraise
Have you ever walked into Tesco and seen an awkward employee on a standing bike in the entryway? Why don’t they encourage their employees to do that outside in the fresh air?
Company fundraisers that get your team active are always great. They encourage team spirit and can act as great PR for your marketers to use.
Maybe ditch the standing bike and encourage your team to get outdoors though!
4 – Use technology
As ironic as it seems, there’s a lot of tech that can encourage you to get outside and moving. Whether it’s a smartwatch that tells you when to move or a Couch to 5k app there is something for everyone.
My colleague is using a weight loss app that encourages her to get outside during the day and she’s loving it.
5 – Outdoor socials
But getting outside doesn’t always have to revolve around exercise, and some of your team may not be able to do physical exercise. Thanks to the relaxing of Covid restrictions, outdoor social events with your team members are possible again, and can be even bigger from next week!
So before you book for a nighttime meal inside, consider booking a pub garden lunch instead or even a picnic in the park.
6 – Work outdoors
And finally, consider encouraging your team members to take their work outside.
When it’s a warm but overcast day, the laptop glare can be bearable and very worth it.
If your team members don’t have access to a garden in range of good Wifi, or if your office is on the dark and dreary side, a bit of natural light coming in through a window can be just as good for a quick dose of vitamin D.
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