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Study: UK Businesses Double-Down on ‘Nature Breaks’

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Businesses in the United Kingdom are investing in their employees’ wellness in a unique way.

According to a report by CR Worldwide, which drew on data from 287,000 employees at over 120 large enterprises, rising workplace stress among younger workers has pushed UK businesses to double their investments in “nature breaks” in the last 12 months, with over half of UK business trips now including nature or activity elements from shark diving to gorilla treks.

In the wake of recent research revealing rising workplace stress and the expanding scope of corporate wellness initiatives, the report revealed a 22% year-on-year increase in UK spending on corporate getaways with organizations spending an average of £3,100 per person per trip.

The proportion of activity or nature-based business trips has more than doubled to 56% in 2019 compared to the previous year. With human-animal interactions found to have therapeutic effects on mental health, UK firms are also increasingly offering “nature tourism,” from orangutan treks in Borneo to working with endangered rhinos in Rwanda. Husky sledging is among the top five Christmas corporate travel activities for UK firms.

Brexit has driven an increase of over a third in UK enterprises choosing trips outside Europe over the past 12 months. Also, amid recent legislative plans for a four-day working week to address poor mental health at work, the data reveals that companies are increasingly rewarding employees with extra time off — an extra day off was the most common employee reward in the world in 2019.

Overall, UK investment in employee gift schemes soared by 44% last year and has doubled over a three-year period, indicating rising investment in employee rewards. In a bid to focus on corporate wellness, evidence shows that rewards also increasingly feature health-based or experiential elements, with wearable fitness monitors and an “afternoon tea for two” among last year’s top 10 most widely chosen UK employee rewards.

There is evidence of companies increasingly harvesting employee data to create more personalized human resources policies and programs: 38% of enterprises now use automated real-time systems to track and reward employee performance.

“Employers have been investing in gyms or chill-out spaces in the workplace for a few years now, but new data shows that corporations are now increasingly investing in employee well-being outside the workplace by offering rewards from extra time off to company-sponsored jungle treks,” said David Gould, CEO at CR Worldwide. “This reinforces recent evidence of the widening scope of so-called ‘corporate wellness’ initiatives from employee counselling services to international retreats. The main drivers include a growing need to recruit a younger workforce that believes companies should care about their overall well-being, as well as the pressure to counter rising workplace stress, which has an impact on productivity.”


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