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How nature can help you manage the pressures of agency life

Paul Hutchings, founder of fox&cat, outlines how nature can help you can boost staff wellbeing in your agency this Mental Health Awareness Week

Last summer half the population of the UK chose to use nature to cope with pandemic stress.

And with good reason.

There’s a huge amount of empirical research showing that connecting with nature effectively tackles mental ill health. So this year, that’s what Mental Health Awareness Week is all about.

While it can be hard to enjoy nature, especially when we spend so much of our lives working, it will benefit you and your staff.

In this article we outline how you can boost staff wellbeing in your agency. But first…

Why is it so hard to connect with nature?

Sadly, opportunities for us to engage with nature are decreasing – in quantity and quality. Things like urbanisation and modern-day digital distractions (especially since COVID-19 hit) all play a part in our sedentary, city lifestyles. By 2050 two in every three people will live in a city or town.

These things already separate us from nature, but when you add work pressures and the time we spend at the office in front of a screen, it’s no wonder our wellbeing suffers.

So what can we do? How can you as an agency leader support your team?

Simple ways to boost staff wellbeing with nature

People spend around 25% of their lives from the age of 21 to 65 at work. And as agency leaders you have a duty to provide decent wellbeing support for your employees.

Here are five ideas to get you started:

Fact: Turnover at agencies is high – a staggering 30% per year – which means your team building and maintenance needs to be ongoing. But you don’t have to do it in the office…

  • Idea 1: Why not use orienteering with your team? They’ll develop life skills that are surprisingly useful in agencies, like effective delegation and navigating unfamiliar situations. There’s more on why life skills are so valuable here.

Fact: Many of our agency HQs are in large towns and cities with less green space and more pollution. This means you’ll probably favour digital screens over accessing outdoor space…

  • Idea 2: You could create local maps showing nearby green land, nature reserves and outside space to encourage your team to get outside more at lunchtime. If you also secure discounts with local nature-related businesses, it should help.

Fact: Wellbeing must be central in leadership (read more here) and it depends on four things: happiness (enjoyment, purpose), self-actualisation (accomplishments, wisdom), resilience (coping, problem solving), healthy relationships (open, honest, balanced)…

  • Idea 3: Try creating, and keeping to hand, a checklist of any wellbeing initiatives you run through your agency. This will ensure you address the specific needs of your business and stay aligned with the four touchpoints of wellness (above).

Fact: In comms we have many meetings. But running them for the sake of it is costly, frustrating and keeps us all inside for longer than necessary…

  • Idea 4: Why not change your meeting etiquette and hold them outside? Find a park, bring a blanket and a drink, then watch your team’s creativity and productivity grow. I speak from experience…

Fact: Summer parties can be wild in comms! Yet for some they end up being stressful and often encourage ‘one too many’.  The vibe may be completely at odds with your wellbeing policy. So…

  • Idea 5: Once restrictions lift further, you’ll be able to book a marquee to hold your parties outside. Why not include games, campfires and music, or even camp overnight to be really immersed in nature?

A note of caution…

If you’re simply thinking of sticking a pot plant on everyone’s desk as a nod to nature, think again. It’s not enough to play short-term lip service to a long-term issue. Your team expects and deserves more…

How fox&cat can help

At fox&cat we fully understand agency life and can create a bespoke package to help you manage pressure – including wellbeing and team building events.

We use our adaptTM planning framework to understand the root causes of pressure in your business, then provide client service, training, leadership support and wellbeing initiatives.

Our next article on wellbeing will be out on 25th May – meanwhile, there’s more information on our website.

And now I leave you with this question: What will you do this week to help your team embrace nature?

Fox&cat works with brave, forward-thinking agencies who accept that things aren’t perfect and never will be. With those who want to make positive and lasting change. And with those who aren’t afraid to tackle pressure as a holistic issue. If that’s you do get in touch.

Article references available upon request


MS PowerPoint Document: 120.1 KB

10th May 2021


MS PowerPoint Document: 120.1 KB



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