New Zealand Rugby (NZR) says helping its employees to get out of the office and into green spaces is key to keeping the organisation at the top of its game.

And that’s why it took part in the Mental Health Awareness Week Lockout on Tuesday, 10 October. From 12–1pm, Kiwis were encouraged to head outside to discover how happiness and wellbeing bloom when they connect with the nature that surrounds them every day.

“We hold our people as our greatest asset, so we are prepared to invest in their wellbeing,” NZR chief financial officer Nicki Nicol says.

NZR runs wellbeing programmes and workshops, as well as health-focused challenges, sporting competitions and yoga.

Concentration and output improve

NZR provincial union support manager John Kirkup says there’s something different on offer every day to suit any sort of weather or mood.

“Being a sporting organisation, getting up and away from your desk is encouraged. I try and do something every day, whether it’s an organised session like swiss ball or yoga, or a hit of squash or indoor netball with workmates, or even hitting the gym downstairs,” John says.

John says when he takes a break from his desk and gets moving outside, he’s more focused and gets more done.

“If the weather is good, you get that feel-good vibe. If it’s rubbish, which it often can be in Wellington, it’s that added challenge of battling the elements. Standing up the top of the lookout by the cable car in a howling northerly certainly blows the cobwebs out!”

Being organised is one of the secrets to sticking to a wellbeing plan.

“That first step away from your desk needs to be as easy as possible so you don’t have excuses – that’s the key for me. Book it in your calendar, have your gear ready to go and think of it as a treat rather than a chore,” John says.

Positive changes noticed

Eighty percent of NZR’s 130 employees take part in at least one wellbeing activity throughout the year, with some activities happening weekly. And NZR has noticed positive changes among staff, who are more engaged and more energised.

Twice a week, Melvin Worth, NZR commercial operations manager for NZ Sevens, uses his lunch break for a run, game of squash or mountain bike.

“Being outside during work hours always reminds me of how important the work-life balance is. This puts me in a more positive frame of mind,” Melvin says.

His concentration levels are better and it’s also a chance to socialise with colleagues.

There’s also a walking group which braves Wellington’s weather regularly, as well as a running group and a bunch of people who attend group exercises together.

 

Read about Mental Health Awareness Week