Finding wild wellbeing in the workplace

During Mental Health Awareness Week, Valerie Todd, Human Resources Director from Siemens UK and Ireland, showcases a way that all workplaces can help to alleviate this crisis: through ‘wild wellbeing’. In 2017 Siemens teamed-up with The Wildlife Trusts to deliver a national programme of nature-based activities. Here’s why:

Mental ill health has a major impact on the workplace. Production losses, employee absences, and high turnover of staff often results in a higher degree of mental health issues. These factors cost the UK economy £15 billion a year (Centre for Mental Health, 2011). More worryingly, it is reported that approximately 300,000 people lose or leave their jobs every year because of mental health issues.

Across Siemens, we are helping our 12,000 employees to improve their health and wellbeing by working with The Wildlife Trusts and helping them get outdoors and into contact with nature. We’d tested this approach at a local level with employees volunteering at nature reserves and we could see the benefits. It is an exciting and refreshing way of looking after our workers and our business, while giving something back to the natural world. So what is the thinking behind it?

In short, access to nature makes us feel better, makes us think happier thoughts, and makes us connect with one another.

The ‘Wild Wellbeing’ programme involves staff spending a day at a local nature reserve. The day itself is based around the recognised ‘five ways to wellbeing’ pathway: connect with nature and people; be active through exercise and activities; take notice of the world and nature; keep learning by developing skills and self-awareness; and give back to nature and the community.

Research with employees following the Wild Wellbeing Days showed that 81% of Siemens staff who took part reported that they had an increase in their overall wellbeing following their day with The Wildlife Trusts.

 

volunteer Wildlife Trust

Over the past year, nearly 700 Siemens staff have taken part in Wild Wellbeing Days, as we’ve come to call them, around the country. The work done has helped to provide beautiful, safe and wildlife-rich natural environments that benefit local communities. In Cumbria, 300 kg of rubbish was collected from Foulney Island nature reserve, clearing areas and making it better for nesting birds and people alike. Staff went on to learn about the birds that nest on the island. This type of work is no mean feat.

In Lancashire, staff spent the morning raking hay from the meadows at Brockholes nature reserve to allow lots of different wild flowers to get a chance to bloom. In the afternoon, they learned a new skill – tree identification – and had time for reflection around the glow of a campfire.

One employee commented; “it was a great day… I feel physically and mentally refreshed.” We’ve been monitoring the impact of the Wild Wellbeing days too.

Research with employees following the Wild Wellbeing Days showed that 81% of Siemens staff who took part reported that they had an increase in their overall wellbeing following their day with The Wildlife Trusts;.

So, at Siemens, we recognise the importance that nature plays in our wellbeing and continue to encourage our employees to get involved in a range of wellbeing activities. We also encourage our leaders to keep in mind their own health, so that they can have a positive influence on the health of others.