Enhance employee wellbeing with a Surrey Hills experience
31st March 2022
With stress, anxiety and depression more prevalent than ever amongst the modern workforce, the focus of businesses on the wellbeing of their employees is more important than ever before.
Particularly relevant in light of the upcoming Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 (9th-15th May), corporate wellness initiatives can play a vital role in creating a more positive working environment and a more resilient workforce, something that is beneficial to both the individuals themselves and the business as a whole.
With the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) able to provide a stunningly beautiful countryside setting and a wealth of high quality independent businesses working sustainably to offer an array of wellness experiences, corporates should consider the Surrey Hills as a destination when looking to enhance employee wellbeing. Whether it be through team building activities, community volunteering, mindfulness, opportunities to get outside and into nature, to learn a new skill or something more unusual, Community Interest Company, Surrey Hills Enterprises’ new ‘Corporate Activities, Meetings and Experiences in the Surrey Hills’ guide covers the very best of these options and more within the Surrey Hills AONB.
Shown to improve productivity, focus and creativity, working together as a team outside of the usual work or office environment can help to build bonds and create a more cohesive working group. Learning a new skill can be one way of attaining this – and a sense of achievement in the meantime. Hedges & Hurdles Country Skills & Crafts offer a variety of courses for both individuals and groups in heritage skills and crafts, such as coppicing, willow craft and bushcraft. Ideal for taking a break from screens and enjoying a digital detox, courses are held in beautiful woodland locations across the Surrey Hills and its surrounds, including Birtley Woodland Art’s Space in Bramley, Priory Farm Estate in South Nutfield or Sussex Prairie Gardens, near Henfield.
Those looking instead to learn the art of mindfulness could consider an experience with The Forest Bathing Institute (TFBI), also featured in the new guide. An international organisation launched by a Surrey Hills husband and wife team, TFBI helps people improve their mental health and wellbeing by harnessing the benefits of nature, by immersing them in natural settings. With mindfulness having been shown to positively help to manage stress, such experiences can have a powerful impact on the morale of staff, lifting moods, providing a much-needed wellbeing boost and restoring mental energy of a fatigued workforce – particularly useful following periods of intense pressure and stress, such as key deadlines or busy periods of the year. With half and full day events available, as well as team building weekends, there are options to suit all company types and needs.
The family-owned Health & Wellbeing Centre, Surrey Hills Physiotherapy, offers a wide variety of bespoke classes, both in their beautiful studio in The Barn at the heart of Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, or virtually online. Choose from a range of specialist professional instructors and teaching styles to best suit the team’s requirements, from Pilates to Barre, Tai Chi to Yoga. These calming classes can provide the ideal option for setting a workplace wellness challenge or a regular ‘Wellness Wednesday’ team activity. With one-off wellbeing days or retreats also available, activities can be combined to create a bespoke package, with dining options in the Vineyard Restaurant or overnight stays in The Denbies Vineyard Hotel next door, wine tastings, cycle tours and more.
Active teams may choose instead to explore the great outdoors, with many associated benefits. Spending time in green spaces has been shown to reduce cortisol levels in the body and in turn stress levels, as well as improve energy, increase happiness, create connections and even reduce inflammation. A University of Michigan study also found that group nature walks were linked with enhanced positivity and mental health, reducing occurrences of depression and stress-related disorders. Corporate groups inspired to harness these health benefits could look to Back on Track, a Surrey Hills’ company that provides guided group hikes and walks with drink and dine experiences. Led by Simone, a qualified hiking guide and fitness coach, and working collaboratively with other Surrey Hills Enterprises members, Back on Track offers experiences such as a Silent Pool walk with a gin distillery tour and tasting or Surrey Hills walk and biryani on the patio at Mandira’s Kitchen, as well as more strenuous adventures such as the Surrey Three Peaks Hike with a pub finish.
Improved wellness does not, however, only have to be found in physical or fitness challenges. Doing something good for a cause or giving back to the community can also provide just as many benefits for the body and mind. The Wey & Arun Canal Trust, a registered charity restoring London’s lost route to sea, offer bespoke canal cruises and corporate volunteering days, where teams can get involved with vital conservation work, from restoration to clearing towpaths, painting lock furniture and tree planting. Providing the change of scenery much craved by those teams that feel disconnected due to the pandemic or those who now work remotely, spending time on or close by the canal can improve mental wellbeing whilst giving back, providing a sense of achievement and positivity.
Corporate groups looking for something a little unusual in the Surrey Hills should take part in a Llama Trekking experience with the Merry Harriers in Hambledon. Expect the unexpected whilst walking with the friendly herd of 12 Llamas, the perfect companions to an exploration of the Surrey Hills AONB – whatever the weather! With the chance to learn interesting facts about these beautiful animals and enjoy a picturesque picnic in their company, teams will have the opportunity to bond with the creatures and each other and let their laughter release important endorphins. This quirky experience would work brilliantly as a staff reward, making individuals feel appreciated and cared for, also combined with an overnight stay in a stunning shepherd’s hut or garden room.
The new ‘Corporate Activities, Meetings and Experiences in the Surrey Hills’ guide from Surrey Hills Enterprises features these and many more activities and is a brilliant resource for companies planning to enhance their staff wellness offering. To learn more and to read the new Corporate Guide, visit: https://surreyhills.org/corporate-meetings-incentives-and-events-in-the-surrey-hills.