July 2018 was the hottest on record in the UK. But many climate scientists believe that rather than being a one-off event, record-setting temperatures such as those that we had last year will become the norm.
While the extent of the long-term effects of warming on the planet remains unknown, there’s no denying that last year’s heatwave made things unpleasant for UK workers. People sweated in offices and worked in the baking heat on building sites, braving the harsh conditions to get their work done.
If the heatwave of 2018 was a one-off event, then companies might decide not to take any action to protect the wellbeing of employees. But the IPCC and independent climate scientists predict that these conditions will continue and become more frequent in the future. If companies want to ensure high levels of employee wellbeing in future summers, they’re going to have to take proactive steps to do so.
Take a look at the following great ideas for health and wellbeing perks for the summer.
Install Air Conditioning In Your Offices
Britain has a reputation for cold, drizzly and dreary weather all year round. But recent climate events suggest that British businesses can no longer rely on the climate of the past being a predictor of the climate of the future: summer temperatures could be much higher.
Most UK businesses don’t bother with air conditioning, believing that it’ll only see use for a couple of days a year, if that. But in 2018, there were dozens of days with daytime temperatures over 25 degrees Celcius, leading to uncomfortable conditions in offices up and down the country.
Data from Peldon Rose suggests that air conditioning is the summer perk that employees want most, with more than 60 per cent saying that they valued it highly. Smart businesses are, therefore, reducing temperatures in the workplace by installing air conditioning systems.
Relax The Dress Code
Company dress codes in the UK are not particularly compatible with high temperatures. Even if the air temperature is greater than 30 degrees outside, many firms continue to expect workers to wear suit trousers, shirts and ties. These garments – especially ties which are little more than decorative nooses – make doing work uncomfortable and could lead to heat-induced lapses in concentration, effort and apathy.
Smart employers are, therefore, looking for ways to allow their colleagues to loosen up while preserving the business brand. Tie-free days, t-shirts, and even shorts are all on the sartorial menu.
Provide Branded Water
Working outdoors on hot days is a potential health hazard for employees. Colleagues exposed to excess heat and sun risk sunburn and heatstroke, a potentially fatal condition. Outdoor workers in congested cities may also be exposed to significant air pollution and dehydration.
Employers need to be proactive in these circumstances to avoid workers having to go home sick or take time off work to recover from heat-induced illnesses. If possible, provide employees with chilled water on-site, plenty of sunscreen, and hats to keep the worst of the midday sun off their heads and faces.
Promote Skin Cancer Awareness
Evidence from Cancer Research UK and the British Association of Dermatologists suggests that excessive, unprotected sun exposure is associated with a higher risk of skin cancer, including dangerous varieties like malignant melanoma.
Workers, however, may not be aware of the risks of spending long hours in the sunshine, and some may believe that it’s good for them. It’s the job of informed and enlightened companies to tell their employees about the risks of sun exposure and make it easy for them to protect themselves.
Organise A Summer Fun Run
During the summer, people are naturally inclined to be more active. The weather is warm and the conditions suitable for outdoor activity. Companies, therefore, can use the summer months as an opportunity to try to get people in their organisations to be more active and improve their lifestyles.
A summer fun run offers employees the best of both worlds. Not only can a fun run be a great way to enjoy the summer weather and escape the confines of the office or worksite, but it also helps employees get back on track with their fitness regimes.
Turn Regular Meetings Into Walking Meetings
Data from Peldon Rose suggests that just 36 per cent of the UK workforce enjoys going to work, and more than 42 per cent say that their office environment has a negative impact on their wellbeing. Employers, therefore, need to find ways of helping their colleagues get out of the office and spend more time outdoors.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, is a big fan of walking meetings. Walking meetings let he and his colleagues escape the confines of their stuffy offices and get out in the open air. Not only are they a great way to cool off on a hot summer’s day, but they may also boost productivity too.
Offer On-Site Yoga
Yoga is an excellent form of exercise that helps employees relax, unwind, and reconnect with their bodies. Many of the most productive and innovative companies in the world, like Google, offer their staff on-site as well as a host of other ways to get physically active.
You don’t necessarily have to provide yoga itself. What employees appear to value the most is being able to pick and choose the physical activities that they enjoy. Yoga classes give exercise structure, but your colleagues may benefit just as much from access to a gym or track.
The Summer Summary
Implementing some of these health and wellbeing perks can help improve both worker morale and productivity. Things like installing air conditioning and adjusting the dress code should be a priority, as these are what workers can benefit from most. Then, once you’ve dealt with the basics, you could try implementing some of the above creative perks. The important take-home message is that by using innovative solutions, your employees will be able to better brave future heatwaves in the summer, putting your firm at a competitive advantage.