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Enhancing Employee Well-Being through Nature

In today’s work environment, where stress and burnout are common, a top priority for businesses must be prioritizing the well-being of their employees. Offering benefits that promote employee well-being can be a game-changer for a business’s employment strategy, helping retain and recruit. Increased physical health directly correlates to improved workplace production and efficiency as well. Launching a company-wide wellness program may seem like a daunting task. Still, one Wisconsin small business is leading the charge for change with a simple, yet effective program based on the State’s beloved state parks and natural resources.

Source: WSAW

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The Benefits of Spending Time in Nature for Employee Well-Being

It’s true that no two employee wellness programs look the same. Some focus on perks provided through their health insurance provider; others look to healthy breakroom snacks, in-office flu shots, gym membership reimbursements, or mental health counseling. Many of these programs require employees to jump through invisible hoops or are not available to all household members, leading to lack of employee participation and wasted company resources.  

Great Lakes Roofing Corporation (GLRC) President, Chris Lampien, noted the number of outdoor enthusiasts on staff and decided to kick off 2023 with a gift that he knew all his employees would appreciate and utilize; a Wisconsin state Park Pass. Research consistently shows that spending time in nature significantly benefits mental and physical health, which makes time in the Wisconsin State Parks well spent. The serene environment and fresh air offer a much-needed break from the daily grind. “This is a wellness benefit the entire family can enjoy, which also promotes work-life balance within our company. We encourage everyone to go out and enjoy the State Parks as often as they can,” said Lampien.

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To kick off their incentive and show appreciation to their hardworking staff, GLRC executives decided to capture the essence of the great outdoors by making a heartfelt video while immersed in nature. In the video, Lampien and his family enthusiastically announced that GLRC would be gifting each employee a Wisconsin State Park Pass through the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks (FWSP), a non-profit organization of volunteers who care for the state parks, forests, trails, and recreation areas. 

Encouraging the GLRC team to explore and enjoy the state parks emphasizes the importance of work-life balance. Spending time in nature can positively impact the overall well-being of the staff. This thoughtful act enhances employee morale and engagement and reinforces a strong sense of appreciation and unity within the company.

Source: Wisconsin DNR

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The Resources Offered by State Park Websites

State Park websites offer many resources for individuals seeking outdoor adventures. These websites often provide printable and downloadable activities, maps, and lists that can significantly enhance the experience. Whether exploring hiking trails, spotting wildlife, or discovering hidden gems within the park, these resources prove invaluable. With the convenience of having these materials accessible online, visitors can easily plan and customize their outdoor activities, ensuring a fun and engaging adventure in nature.

To layer in additional activities and promote new adventures, the FWSP promotes seasonal challenges each year involving outdoor activities like documenting plants and animals, camping, biking, photography, and more. “These challenges have been an amazing way to encourage our staff to opt outdoors more and think of new ways to get active,” said Kris Moran, marketing director at GLRC.

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State Park Passes and Work-Life Balance

State Park Passes also foster team building within the organization. When employees venture out into nature together, they can bond, share experiences, and create lasting memories. Moran said, “We’ve encouraged the team to share pictures and to post them in their crew rooms and to come in and tell us their stories. We’re also very competitive at work and have had fun reporting on everyone’s progress in the FWSP challenges and seeing if we can have a member of GLRC visit each of the state parks and capture a picture as a “we were there” checklist.” Team-building activities in natural settings can enhance collaboration, communication, and trust among team members. By exploring Wisconsin’s beautiful state Parks, Great Lakes Roofing Corporation’s employees strengthened their connections, built camaraderie, and cultivated a supportive and collaborative work culture.

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Creating fun challenges for employees not only adds an element of excitement to the workplace but also promotes employee engagement. Human resources can play a vital role in designing and implementing these challenges. Challenges can include scavenger hunts, wellness challenges, most parks visited, a photography competition (you could make office calendars out of them), or even departmental competitions. By organizing these activities, HR departments can create a sense of community, boost employee motivation, and promote a healthy work-life balance. Additionally, fun challenges allow employees to showcase their skills, creativity, and teamwork, providing opportunities for personal and professional growth.

State Park Passes as a Strategic Investment for Employee Well-Being

Employee well-being is crucial for a successful business. Workplace stress often hampers productivity, and many employees need help incorporating exercise into their workday. By providing state park passes as a benefit, companies offer employees an opportunity to escape from work and engage in physical activities. This break allows them to relax, rejuvenate, and experience the benefits of a healthier lifestyle. It also helps prevent burnout, ultimately increasing employee satisfaction and productivity.

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Promoting employee well-being is a strategic investment for any company. High-performing employees generate increased customer satisfaction, produce better results, and demonstrate long-term dedication. Research has shown that a significant percentage of employees suffer from stress-related health issues. Work-life balance plays a substantial role in employee stress levels. By implementing a State Park Pass Program, companies can help alleviate employee stress and offer opportunities to disconnect from work and immerse themselves in nature.

The great outdoors is an excellent place for physical exercise, known as a remedy for stress and anxiety. State Park Passes allow employees to explore hiking trails, engage in water activities, and participate in recreational sports. By encouraging physical activity in nature, companies support their employees’ physical health and help reduce stress. Regular exercise is proven to release endorphins, improve mental clarity, boost energy levels, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Creating a Culture of Employee Well-Being

Companies must prioritize support and safeguards to create a culture of employee well-being. According to a Gallup report, employee engagement is not just an abstract feeling but a concrete behavior. This is why engaged teams tend to be more profitable. Teams that score in the top 20% in engagement experience a 41% reduction in absenteeism and 59% less turnover. Engaged employees are enthusiastic and display passion, purpose, presence, and energy, which leads to better performance. Benefits like flexible working hours and parental leave also strongly relate to employee well-being. Companies that provide State Park Passes observe higher employee retention rates and reduced turnover.

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Enhancing employee well-being by providing state park passes is a valuable benefit that can boost morale, productivity, and overall organizational success. It allows employees to connect with nature, recharge, and engage in physical activities, improving well-being and a more cohesive work culture. Wisconsin small businesses can create a happier and more successful workplace by prioritizing employee well-being and incorporating all that Wisconsin’s natural resources have to offer.