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The call of the wild

Businesses are going back to nature to improve staff wellbeing, reveals a new report

UK businesses are embracing the wild to counter rising stress levels among younger workers, claims workforce performance company CR Worldwide in a new report, Corporate Wellness 2.0 .

Its analysis of data from over 287,000 users of reward, recognition and incentive programmes at 120 large enterprises shows that in the last 12 months UK businesses have increased their spending on corporate getaways by 22% to an average of £3,100 per person per trip.

This includes a doubling of expenditure on wildlife trips, to the point where 56% of UK business breaks now include a nature-based activity of some sort, from shark diving to orangutan treks in Borneo.

Because of its perceived benefit to mental health, many of these trips include an element of human-animal interaction, such as working with endangered rhinos in Rwanda or husky sledging, which has become one of the top five Christmas corporate travel activities.

Even though UK firms have increased their average spend on employee rewards by 44% in the last year and by 100% in the last three years, most employee rewards are much more modest, with an extra day off work being the most common incentive worldwide.

Other trends identified in the report include:

*growing demand for health-based or experiential rewards, with wearable fitness monitors and an ‘afternoon tea for two’ among last year’s top 10 most widely chosen UK employee rewards; and

*greater harvesting of employee data to create more personalised HR policies and programmes, with more than one third (38%) of enterprises now using automated real-time systems to track and reward employee performance.

Commenting on the findings, CR Worldwide CEO David Gould said: “Employers have been investing in gyms or chill-out spaces in the workplace for a few years now, but new data shows that corporations are increasingly investing in employee wellbeing outside the workplace by offering rewards, from extra time off to company-sponsored jungle treks.”

He added: “This reinforces recent evidence of the widening scope of so-called ‘corporate wellness’ initiatives from employee counselling services to international retreats. The main drivers include a growing need to recruit a younger workforce that believes companies should care about their overall wellbeing, as well as the pressure to counter rising workplace stress, which has an impact on productivity.”

Key facts

*UK firms spent £6,849,595 on employee rewards last year, up from £3,629,473 in 2016-17.
*UK spend on employee travel incentives increased by 22% to an average of £3,100 per person per trip.
*Last year saw a 33% increase in companies offering long-haul exotic trips to destinations including Borneo, Mexico and the Caribbean.
*56% of UK travel included nature-based activities in 2019, compared with just 15% in 2018.
*UK companies spent £273 per head on incentives for sales staff in the past year.