Happier workplaces all year long | Notes from the Panther Lounge | David Suzuki Foundation
Photo: Happier workplaces all year long

Winnipeg's Green Action Centre reconnected with nature and each other during their 30×30 Challenge.

By Aryne Sheppard, Senior Public Engagement Specialist

Hundreds of workplaces participated in the David Suzuki Foundation's 30×30 Nature Challenge in May, when we challenged employees across the country to spend 30 minutes outside in nature every day for 30 days.

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Many of us spend our days sitting indoors in front of screens. The cost of our busy, high-tech lifestyles: reduced productivity, lower job satisfaction and higher rates of absenteeism. But a regular dose of nature is an easy prescription for healthier lives and more vibrant workplaces!

CONTAVA, an IT security systems firm, divided Edmonton, Calgary, and Toronto employees into Team Moose and Team Bison and encouraged them to enter daily nature activity photos to win a grand prize weekend at Jasper Park Lodge.

A whopping 97 per cent of staff participated, racking up over 400 hours of green time and building teamwork despite vast geographic distances. Besides increased staff engagement, employees also started spending more time in nature with their families.

Linda Spilchen, HR payroll and benefits co-ordinator, is proud of her colleagues: "with the power of nature it was our hope that this challenge truly did improve the well-being of our CONTAVA employees... the 30 × 30 Challenge enhanced our value system and validated the importance of teambuilding."

Like at many non-profits, increasing workloads mean long hours with few breaks at Winnipeg's Green Action Centre, an environmental organization working to make the world more sustainable. Employees are often so busy at computers they don't stop to connect with one another. Executive Director Tracy Hucul knew working this way is unhealthy in the long run, so staff decided to make experiencing nature every day a priority.

They kicked off their 30×30 with a walk along Winnipeg's Red River, which runs right through the city. They enjoyed sunshine and local wildlife — some even rolled down one of the prairie's few hills! Staff also chose nature as the perfect venue to reconnect as a team and simply enjoy each other's company.

"When I take a break and walk outside something magical happens," Tracy said. "My breathing changes. I wriggle my fingers and toes. I stretch. Then I begin to remember how good it feels to be outside... I am more relaxed and engaged."

Although this year's Challenge is over, we hope the nature habit will stick. Spending time in nature makes us happier, more creative and healthier. Take coffee breaks at a nearby parkette, walk or bike to work through green space and host your creative meetings outside.

If your workplace didn't participate in this year's 30×30 Nature Challenge, don't worry. Download the 30×30 Workplace Toolkit and host your own today!

Contava-staff.jpg

Contava held a national 30×30 Challenge between their Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto offices.

July 7, 2014
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/panther-lounge/2014/07/happier-workplaces-all-year-long/

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