The power of the outdoors

Stress is a major cause of employee absence in the workplace and costs businesses over £5bn per year. Stressed individuals may withdraw into themselves socially and feel less satisfied at work, causing them to experience emotional and physical strain while having a negative impact on productivity, increasing human error and accidents at work and - in extreme cases - leading to complete burnout.

In a recent survey we carried out among 175 members of the event industry, 61% of respondents said health and wellbeing is a high focus for internal events, yet only 26% said outdoor space was a priority when booking an event or meeting destination. With the natural outdoor environment known to reduce stress, increased time spent indoors is positive for the mind and body, delivering physical, psychological and socio-economic benefits. Research has found people experience faster recoveries from stress in natural outdoor environments than in urban environments with exposure to forest environments being especially advantageous to emotions, particularly chronic stress.

Access to nature in the workplace is associated with lower levels of perceived job stress and higher job satisfaction, yet more frequently time is being spent indoors with technology influencing a rise in sedentary jobs in the 21st century. For companies, the wellbeing of employees is essential for success, so time outdoors and with nature could be a simple solution to achieving improved employee wellbeing and positive attitudes in the workplace. Research into teambuilding has found that outdoor programmes increase trust, group awareness, interaction, problem-solving and self-esteem and outdoor adventure has been connected to excitement, pleasure and fun, leading to positive emotions from the social and environmental engagement.

There are some simpler ways businesses can utilise the power of the natural environment to keep employees happy and as stress-free as possible:

1. Book internal events at a destination with outdoor space. This will give your team an opportunity to explore the outdoors in conference downtime. A real plus in the warmer months!

2. Tie an outdoor teambuilding session into your event. Teambuilding is a great way to reward and relax delegates, therefore aiding workplaces by improving the wellbeing of employees.

3. If you have a heavy conference programme to put together consider stretching your event into two days so that you can factor in more free time for delegates to explore and make the most of their surroundings.

4. Encourage walking meetings. Why hold your team catch-ups in the boardroom? Make the most of the outdoors and have a walk and talk.

For many people the purpose of work is not solely income, it is often associated with achievement, socialising, personal identity and purpose. Access to the outdoors and nature could be a simple solution to achieving improved employee wellbeing and positive attitudes in the workplace, as well as increased productivity.

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