Last week Sian Day and Beth Kelsall from City of Trees spoke to Pro-manchester businesses about the role of outdoor volunteering as a key part of an employee engagement and wellbeing strategy.
In 2016/17 stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 40% of all work-related ill health cases and 49% of all working days were lost due to ill health. UK businesses face additional pressure from presenteeism, where employees attend work despite being unwell, which is estimated to cost as much as 2.5 times more than absenteeism because of its impact on productivity and performance.
In Greater Manchester alone around 683,000 adults are dealing with a mental health or wellbeing issue which negatively impacts their life, with the wider economic cost of mental health as much as £3.5bn. There are also issues with physical health – around 1/3 people don’t achieve the recommended activity levels and around 2/3 people are overweight or obese.
Intuitively we all know that getting outdoors and connecting to nature makes us feel better – that’s certainly our experience. But there’s more evidence coming out all the time about the role that the natural world can play in supporting healthy, happy, more active lives.
At City of Trees we have seen the transformative effect spending time outdoors can have on people of all ages and abilities – from school children planting a tree for the first time to people with dementia enjoying spending time outdoors and everyone in between. It just goes to show how accessible spending time outdoors can be and we’ve found that even those who might not like the idea of getting their hands dirty at first will change their minds after a day out of the office!
Volunteering is increasingly being seen as a key driver for recruitment and retention due to the role it can play in creating a positive work environment and giving employees a sense of purpose, as well as supporting morale and wellbeing. Volunteering can create a sense of pride in a company – people know that their employer is connected to the local community and is committed to playing a positive part within it. This also helps to drive loyalty and ultimately has a positive impact on recruitment, retention, engagement and productivity.
Outdoor volunteering can (and should, in our opinion!) play a significant role in any organisation’s wellbeing strategy. A focus on health and wellbeing isn’t just about making a positive impact on people’s lives – it can make a real difference to an organisation’s bottom line. One example is Anglian Water, who have seen returns of £8 for every £1 spent on their wellbeing programme.
A healthier and happier workforce is one that is more productive, engaged and loyal. Planting trees and clearing overgrown woodland areas are good examples of activities that enable people to experience the restorative power of the natural world while taking part in physical activity which is rewarding and fun.
If you’d like to speak to City of Trees about incorporating outdoor volunteering into your employee engagement and wellbeing strategy, contact Sian Day on 0161 8721660 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
 Health & Safety Executive, Work-related Stress, Depression or Anxiety Statistics in Great Britain, 2017
 ERS Research & Consultancy, Health at Work – Economic evidence report for workplace health, 2016
 Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership, Greater Manchester Population Health Plan 2017 – 2020, 2017
 Institute for European Environmental Policy, The Health and Social Benefits of Nature and Biodiversity Protection, 2016
 Deloitte Deloitte’s 2017 Volunteerism Survey, 2017