3 top tips for workplace wellbeing and happiness this summer
Do you need to boost your employees’ happiness?
Picture in your mind’s eye the summer months in Europe; a wonderful close up of a happy group, smiling and laughing as they run through a field of long grass with sunshine beaming from a clear blue sky. Sunshine, being sociable, and movement have each been shown to make us happier, healthier and more productive in the workplace (An et al. 2016, Oswald et al. 2015, Coulson et al. 2008).
However, picture now the same group during the summer in the UAE, where daily temperatures can soar over 120 degrees, less activities can be available and energy levels are low.
It is not a surprise that from June-September in the UAE we may find it both harder to be outside and to have the energy and opportunity to be sociable. As a result, we may find that happiness levels in the UAE go down in the summer. As happiness goes down, so can our level of wellbeing, and as a consequence, we may find that we feel less productive both in and out of the workplace on a day-to-day basis.
We asked our wellbeing coaches to pull together 3 top tips for individuals, employers and HR teams that may help to improve the happiness, and subsequent wellbeing and productivity in the workplace this summer:
3 top tips for worksplace wellbeing and happiness this summer
1. Think about Vitamin D
With the heat of the summer, our time outdoors reduces along with our proportionate coverage of sunscreen and clothing. A crucial nutrient that plays a role in depression and inflammation is Vitamin D and our main source of this is the sunshine.
In order for us to get adequate Vitamin D, it has been estimated that we require 20 minutes of moderate daily sunlight exposure to approximately 50 percent of our skin. Unless you spend that time on a golf course, this is unlikely in the summer months in the UAE where we hop from home, to car, to underground carpark to office and back. It may be worth encouraging your employees to get their levels of Vitamin D tested by their doctor, whilst increasing their natural Vitamin D intake through their food. Vitamin D can be found naturally in seaweeds, egg yolk, oily fish (e.g. sardines, mackerel, salmon) and in some milks and cheeses. (N.B. Supplementing Vitamin D without having been tested is not recommended).
Some ideas on how to improve your Vitamin D status naturally:
- Nothing beats getting out into the sunshine for Vitamin D. It may be hot but getting up 10 minutes earlier for a quick lie in the sunshine on your terrace, or even a stroll or jog along the sea before work is a quick win to contributing to your daily Vitamin D dose. UV rays are dangerous for long exposure, so be careful just to keep this to no more than 20 minutes.
- How about a daily dose of Vitamin D in your breakfast? Try 2 eggs with 100g spinach and a piece of smoked salmon for a big hit towards your daily recommended value of Vitamin D (National Institutes of Health, EFSA 2016).
2. Make the effort to be social
Daily heat means that there is less energy and time to be sociable – especially on the weekends where our fabulous beaches are not as attractive as from October-May. This means we may go out to see friends less. Even amongst many introverts, energy is gained from others and wellbeing markers may all improve the more time we spend with friends.
Sparks’s ideas on how to be more social in the office:
- An idea we carried out with one of our Abu Dhabi clients was establishing a weekly group lunch at a “favourite cafe” during the summer months – which meant everyone came into the office rather than worked from home and made sure they had a sociable day.
- Another team started afternoon group “brown bag” meetings where they got together in a relaxed meeting room and discussed a topic of interest – sometimes work-related, sometimes not. This proved to be a great way to add to people’s social energy during the summer months and increased contentment in the office.
3. Move more!
Movement gets our blood pumping, which can purge toxins that drive up cellular degeneration, illness and mental stress. It can also release endorphins (the body’s feel good chemicals). Encouraging movement in the workplace can be hard, but some simple strategies that don’t require much energy can make all the difference.
Sparks’s ideas on how to increase your movement – especially during the summer:
- How about holding stand up/walking meetings – where employees have to be on their feet and move (which also has the advantage of increasing core strength and reducing postural issues).
- Another idea is to set up a contract with a Personal Training, such as Discover Sports who provide Personal Training services at corporate rates either in or close to your office.
For further information on the ideas above, or for more insights into Corporate Wellbeing interventions and workshops, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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- An M, Colarelli SM, O’Brien K, Boyajian ME Branchi I (2016) Why We Need More Nature at Work: Effects of Natural Elements and Sunlight on Employee Mental Health and Work Attitudes ed. PLoS ONE 11(5)e0155614
- Oswald AJ Proto E Sgroi D (2015) Happiness and Productivity Journal of Labor Economics 33:(4)789-822
- Coulson JC McKenna J Field M (2008) “Exercising at work and self‐reported work performance” International Journal of Workplace Health Management 1:(3)176-197
- NIH: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
- EFSA https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/4547 via