Hayley Gillard is an Ecotherapist and Team Builder Extraordinaire (she says self-proclaimed but we think actual!!) Having met our Gaffer, Claire, at a networking event, Hayley and Claire realised they had the same ethos around the importance of looking after your staff, how integral they are to organisational success and how failing to understanding staff needs could have a detrimental effect on your business. Though HR180 may talk performance reviews, interview techniques and strengths finders whilst Hayley uses the language of campfire building, foraging and outdoor mindfulness – we’re actually speaking the same tongue.
By Hayley Gillard
I think most people would agree, your staff are your greatest asset. By looking after your people, you’re maximising their alignment to your values and mission. You’re showing them you care about them, they mean a lot to you and they then reciprocate that care back in their work for you. By fostering a culture of compassion, understanding and wellbeing, your staff are more productive, focused and committed – all benefitting your business aims and objectives and creating a happier workforce.
But did you know, that one of the best ways of promoting staff wellbeing within the workplace is actually by not doing it in the workplace at all! Getting out in nature is scientifically proven to boost feel good hormones, reduce stress, improve productivity, improve team communication and LOADS more amazing benefits.
My work involves helping people to manage stress using nature as inspiration. I do this through team away days, outdoor coaching and wellbeing packages. When HR180 decided to book an away day with me, I was so excited to be working with a company who really cared. The whole team came to the woods for an away day with me mid-April 2017 and they just shone. They laughed, they connected and they communicated. They got competitive, they relaxed and they took some time out to breathe. They were the epitome of nature and wellbeing in action. Here’s what happens when you get outside…
The most obvious benefit but not one to be overlooked. Breathing fresh air not only improves our circulatory system and our respiratory system, but all that oxygen also helps improve our energy levels, makes us more alert, and sharpens our concentration.
Being out in nature actually causes our brain functions to shift. We spend most of our life glued to screens, but nature causes something called ‘soft fascination’ to kick in. This happens when our brain realises it can drop the intense focus it usually needs, relax and become more curious. Our eyes adjust and they send calmer, softer signals to the brain. Being in that state of mind helps us to be more creative due to the natural stimulus demanding less. Creativity creates new ideas, inspires better ways of working and helps people to relax.
Studies from the University of Michigan have shown that nature is scientifically proven to improve our ability to focus and be productive! Win win for business and wellbeing! People who are more focused at work will achieve better results and feel more connected to their work. Being deeply immersed in nature e.g. in a forest or at the beach has significantly more benefits than a town-based walk or a view of a cityscape.
Being in nature actually helps us to heal both physically and emotionally. Professor Roger Ulrich from a University in Texas did a study based on recovery from surgery in hospital. He monitored people’s rates of recovery and how nature would affect that. He found that depending on where people’s beds were placed greatly impacting on rates of recovery and that those with a view of nature (compared with a view of the ward or a wall) recovered much quicker. So whilst you may not be able to prescribe nature to your employees in the medical sense, this study really shows the impact nature has on optimal health. Bring back the office plant I say!
Now the biggest reason for absence from work according to the Health and Safety Executive. Well, nature can help there too! Research published in the Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine journal has shown that being in nature, specifically in forests, reduces the cortisol levels in our brain (our stress hormone) and can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. With 12% of staff absence due to mental health problems this is something we can no longer ignore.
Of course being outside is fun! It’s a natural playground, it creates childlike wonder. When was the last time you toasted a marshmallow! We do it EVERY DAY on my team away days! Having fun is actually one of the keys to business success and leadership according to Imperial College Business School in London. HR180 spent their day doing laughter yoga, fire lighting competitions and making kazoos! A whole load of endorphins (feel good hormones) were flooding the brains of their staff helping them feel lighter and more relaxed.
Nature is a pretty convincing therapist and HR manager isn’t it?! The benefits for your staff and the knock on effect it has on your business is vast. There’s many ways I can help you with this and booking an outdoor team building day like HR180 did is a no brainer if you’re a company who cares. (Here’s the team a few seconds ealier – it is WELL worth a watch…)
If you’ve read this and would love to see how Hayley’s nature-based team away days or coaching packages could help your organisation get in touch with HR180 – we’d be happy to refer you to her.
Hayley Gillard is an Ecotherapist and Wellness Consultant in Yorkshire, providing team away days, outdoor coaching, weekend retreats and employee wellbeing packages to help people to connect with nature. She founded of Yorkshire’s first barefoot walking club, speaks on ecotherapy internationally and blogs regularly for the Huffington Post. Find out more at www.hayleygillard.com.
Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.