Aside from hay fever and the odd insufferably hot day, summer is generally lauded for creating optimism and opportunities linked to the better weather. The benefits of the season can have a positive impact on the mental health and physical wellbeing of employees as a result, so how can businesses harness the good vibes that summer brings throughout the year? Towergate Health & Protection identifies three key areas:
Encourage staff to take holidays
Offices can feel like ghost towns in the summer, as employees – especially parents restricted to school holidays – take time out to go on vacation. Holidays provide much needed breaks from the stresses and strains of working life, enabling employees to rest and reset – helping to avoid burnout. Yet research finds that nearly half of employees don’t take their annual leave entitlement, citing forgetfulness and being too busy as key reasons. Employers should be encouraging staff to use their full annual entitlement, throughout the year, to help ensure they are refreshed and more productive on return.
Switch off from work
It’s important that employers actively discourage communications with staff whilst on holiday, allowing them the opportunity to fully take a break from work. Even though they could be relaxing on a beach somewhere, it can feel like they are still in the office if their work mobile phone keeps bleeping and they are expected to remain contactable whilst on holiday. British workers are now working an average of 30 minutes extra each week, compared to a decade ago, and feel the need to be present – even whilst on holiday. It’s important for businesses to encourage staff to take a complete break from work and this can be done through leading by example – with those in senior positions advocating the importance of a total switch off.
Maximise outdoor pursuits
Employees may not be keen to exercise in the winter, because of the darker and colder nights, so now is the time to make the most of the light evenings and encourage outdoor pursuits. Setting up after-work running clubs or tennis tournaments, can help employees to stay fit and take advantage of being able to exercise outside during summer.
It also presents businesses with the opportunity to highlight any mental and physical wellbeing benefits they offer, whilst they have a captive audience. Discounted gym memberships can enable employees to maintain their fitness, once the summer months have passed for example, and mental health wellbeing apps can support employees – regardless of the season. Providing information about mental and physical support that is available, whilst employees are already engaged in an outdoor pursuit, can grab their attention much more effectively, tapping into a renewed enthusiasm for an active life, rather than during a sedentary time in the middle of winter. Promoting health and wellbeing benefits now will raise awareness and can increase take-up levels among staff.
Brett Hill, distribution director at Towergate Health & Protection, comments: “Summer presents an excellent opportunity for employees to take a break and recharge their batteries. Employers need to encourage this, by ensuring that annual leave entitlement is used and opportunities to pursue activities outside of the workplace are taken up. Businesses can also highlight other benefits available to help employees maintain good mental and physical health, so the advantages of summer continue to be felt long after the season has ended.”