When I stepped out of the lift and onto the trading floor at Hoare Govett in Heron House 35 years ago, I am certain that employee wellbeing was not at the top of the senior partner’s agenda. Whilst the stresses and strains of the job were never far from the surface, they were unspoken and rarely shared. Drowning one’s sorrows was very much part of the job.
How times have changed. Nowadays, I can think of at least two friends on the boards of major city law and accountancy firms who have specific responsibility for employee wellbeing and mindfulness. It is well documented why companies take their employees’ wellbeing seriously: happy workers are more productive, stay longer and make recruitment easier.
Large companies are investing significant resources in this direction. “Head of Wellbeing” is an increasingly common job title and a substantial amount of management time is being spent on tackling the contemporary curse of stress and anxiety. Access to counselling and medical support is often the first reaction and, of course, is to be welcomed. However, I have increasingly come to believe that there might be an earlier intervention, verging on a natural remedy, that could be prescribed by HR Departments: getting outside!