How can employers support employee wellbeing in the summer months?

employers summer wellbeing
  • Frequently checking in on employees’ wellbeing in summer months can help highlight issues and allow for adjustments.
  • Employers should raise awareness of sun safety, the importance of hydration and proper ventilation.
  • Flexible working hours in warmer weather can improve wellbeing by offering time for physical activities, helping with childcare and supporting sleep struggles.

While many employees may look forward to the summer months, there are related issues that employers should bear in mind regarding their wellbeing provision. Last summer saw the hottest weather on record, according to Climate Copernicus, so it is worth employers exploring warmer weather support.

What to consider

A summer health and wellbeing strategy should consider the impact of the hot weather on wellbeing, motivation and productivity, and be created based on the needs of employees, which employers must assess. Regular check-ins can identify issues early on and allow for support.

Lisa Gunn, mental health prevention lead at Nuffield Health, says: “[Employers] should communicate with employees about preferences and aspects that need great focus. Steps to develop an effective strategy might include promoting hydration, nutrition and sun safety, encouraging physical activity, implementing flexible-working arrangements, and providing mental health support and training.”

For those working outside, being in direct sunlight for too long could cause sunstroke and exhaustion. Furthermore, not all office buildings have air conditioning and employees working from home could be sitting in warm, unventilated conditions all day. Employers also need to be aware of staff taking annual leave during this time, with some covering extra work or experiencing pressure to complete everything before going on holiday. This can be overwhelming, so it is critical to ensure the right assistance is in place to support mental wellbeing.

Additionally, employers need to be mindful of working parents during the summer, who often balance childcare responsibilities with work, says Nebel Crowhurst, chief appreciation officer at Reward Gateway and Edenred.

“Employee schedules can be disrupted, which can hinder workplace productivity,” she says. “Take this into account with staff who also suffer with underlying health issues that can be exacerbated by the heat, and it can all contribute to seasonal burnout.”.

Health and wellbeing support

During the summer months, it is important employers help to ensure employees are properly hydrated by providing access to water, perhaps through distributing reusable water bottles, while reinforcing this with education.

Arlette Correia, therapist at Wellness Cloud and HR consultant, says: “Organisations with mostly office-based employees might look to ensure workspaces have proper ventilation or air conditioning, and ensure there are cool spaces available. Adjustments to the dress code or lightweight uniforms can help them manage hot temperatures.”

Employers should also promote sun safety to employees who are based outside, cycle or walk to work, encourage sun cream use and offer advice on how often to take breaks in exterior shaded areas.

Debra Clark, head of wellbeing at Towergate Health and Protection, adds: “Some providers allow employees to submit photos of their skin and any suspect areas, moles, dark patches or rashes for examination. This means that potential skin cancer can be picked up early and treated accordingly. Additionally, some health cash plans will pay towards allergy tests if the member sees a recognised specialist in the area, which might enable employees to cope with any summer hay fever.”

Employers can also educate and raise awareness through related webinars and workshops, while hydration challenges, and fitness and nutrition classes can encourage care of physical wellbeing.

“Employee assistance programmes can help to support mental wellbeing by providing counselling and professional resources to manage personal or work-related challenges that may occur during the summer,” adds Gunn.

Sleep can also be disrupted by hot weather and can impact productivity, so flexible working can enable employees to work during the cooler hours, while resources such as guided meditations can assist with relaxation.

“Employers could think about starting a walking or running club, a gardening club or other outdoor activities,” says Clark. “Using a volunteering day for a community project can be valuable as being social, helping and giving back are all great for overall wellbeing. A business that encourages and supports staff will engender loyalty and engagement.”

Workplace assistance

Flexible summer working hours, such as early finishes or remote work options, can allow for outdoor physical activities or family time to tackle stress and promote a healthy work-life balance.

“These initiatives can go a long way in reducing work-related stress without harming productivity,” says Crowhurst. “Encouraging staff to log off early and enjoy the warm weather now and again can do wonders for productivity, boosting serotonin levels and allowing them to return feeling rested and appreciated. Through this, employers are not only sending a message of trust, but also that they appreciate employees’ lives, which can boost morale and wellbeing.”

Employers can also accommodate employees with childcare responsibilities by providing increased flexibility to help them manage being a parent with their workload.

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“They can connect employees to childcare facilities, whether that’s childminders or summer camps, which takes the burden of finding those services off the shoulders of employees,” adds Crowhurst. “This can go a long way to supporting employee wellbeing and showing care for people outside of the workplace.”

By prioritising employee health and wellbeing and tailoring a strategy to suit the warmer weather, employers not only cultivate a positive work environment but also enhance productivity and satisfaction.