Want to get on the trails more but work’s getting in the way? Stop daydreaming of trees and convince HR to add hiking to your Corporate Wellness program instead.
Corporate Wellness Programs weren’t even a thing when shoulder pads and cassette tapes were around (for the young-uns: the eighties). The original programs focused on making sure their workers were adopting healthy behaviours (i.e. less smoking and drinking, more exercise) primarily so companies could make their staff work longer and harder.
Luckily, we have come a long way with our understanding of corporate wellness over the past few decades. Now companies more often focus broadly on keeping their staff mentally and physically well, on top of baseline health initiatives. They can include counselling services, fitness incentives, immunisations and health screenings. Want to know more about your office’s Corporate Wellness Program? Have a chat with your Human Resources team.
While you’re at it, ask them why they haven’t thought to include hiking in their program. If they want to move from wellness to wellbeing, we think it’s the bee’s knees. We’ve even created a cheat sheet for you to convince them to make hiking part of their corporate wellness repertoire (so you can get more hiking time in on their dollar):
Go beyond the gym
Yes, there’s likely to be a discount gym membership with your Corporate Wellness program, but those sweat boxes can sure be intimidating. Hiking on the other hand, is accessible, sneaky exercise – people go out to explore the outdoors, and at the same time, happen to improve their health and fitness. Hiking gets the blood pumping, and in doing so, lowers the risk of heart disease and improves blood pressure. As a weight bearing exercise, it increases bone density and builds muscle strength and joint mobility. Then it also improves balance, because stabiliser and core muscles fire up on those uneven trails. It’s a wonderful allrounder for improving physical health that more of your staff are likely to have a go at.
Let nature nurture stressed minds
A growing body of evidence demonstrates that direct exposure to nature is essential for our psychological, emotional and physical health. In particular, therapeutic approaches that are focussed on mindful awareness in and building meaningful connections and engagement with nature, have shown good outcomes for individuals struggling with anxiety and stress symptoms. In short, being out amongst the trees reduces stress and helps with our society’s (and most likely your workplace’s) most common mental health issues. So tackling both physical and mental health at the same time? That’s a tick for hiking.
Build your workplace culture
There are countless studies that suggest people with strong relationships are happier, healthier, less stressed and more engaged. That means investing in initiatives that create bonds and connect workmates helps to foster health, happiness, engagement in employees. This in turn helps create a positive, efficient and sustainable culture. A culture where staff see each other as more than colleagues, but as fellow humans, who can work together to overcome challenges. Hiking gives a team real-life steep hills to climb together and an opportunity to show their support, vulnerability and personality to each other in a way they may not get in the workplace.
Show me the money!
Now to prepare you for the obvious, but tough rebuttal. “Sure, that all sounds great,” says HR. “But how much is it going to cost?” Don’t worry, we got you! In short, there’s options that can scale depending on your company’s budget. We’re talking team-building style events, which can be as big or small, frequent or infrequent as they can afford. Or they could look at subsidising spots on a regular ongoing tour, which will compare to what they fork out for that standard pilates program. Tell them to put their money where their mouth is though, because you’ve proven hiking ticks all their KPIs.