Employee wellness: REI leading the way with #optoutside
They made a bold statement and decision with their #optoutside campaign which encourages it's staff and members to go outside on Black Friday. The stores will all be closed and everyone gets the day off - with pay. Customers and staff can join in and declare their commitment to head outside.
It's great exposure for REI and gives a green-light for other companies to explore the value of encouraging staff and customers to get out in nature.
A decade ago, health insurance providers began seeing that exercise was a critical element for health. Prior to this, the concept of paying people to exercise (or reducing premiums) was not widely accepted. Now many companies are reducing insurance costs by encouraging staff to exercise. Walking is one of the easiest ways for people to begin and it's a fantastic way to improve health and boost productivity.
I believe that not just exercise, but exercise in nature gives the best benefit. I have a vision that in the future we'll be better able to make the additional link between nature and health. Will this result in more companies encouraging nature based activities for staff? I think so and many progressive companies are already starting to embrace this.
REI have a culture of fitness and outdoor exercise. As a company, they certainly set a high standard for employee health. Though, any company can benefit from outdoor exercise. Recently I've worked with Vulcan, ExOfficio and BECU to boost wellness program participation, by including walking in the daily activities for staff. The benefits are numerous; better health, fewer sick-days, higher employee retention, lower insurance costs, improved productivity and employee morale.
One potential pain-point is helping people get past a fear of embarrassment that they may not be fit enough. Coaching can overcome this fear. I've developed some highly effective ways to turn this road-block into a building-block and I'd enjoy to share ideas that might work well for your group.
If you are interested in programs and studies which recognize the benefits of being out in nature, I've put some links on the Reports and Articles page on this website.
If you'd like to chat about how to boost staff participation in your companies wellness program, please let me know .