An innovative Fife-based start-up aims to combine decades of workplace experience with the power of nature and mindful practice to help companies bolster the mental wellbeing of their workers.
The Mental Health Foundation’s 2022 report calculated that mental health issues cost the UK economy the equivalent of 5 per cent of GDP annually.
Now, new business Wild Workforce is set to run a unique ongoing workshop programme in Falkland which will use the outdoors as a gateway to empower Fife, Perthshire and Tayside businesses with interventions and tools to prioritise staff wellbeing.
Founder Clare Stephen has a diverse background in law, trade unionism and Human Resource management as well as a track record in delivering Learning and Development courses with Dundee University and the WS Society.
However, she also boasts skills in forest school learning; something which has proven to be beneficial in developing resilience and confidence in young people.
Having direct experience of how mental health can impact workplaces, she decided to combine her employment knowledge with her expertise in the field of Forest School leadership to bring together Wild Workforce’s vision.
The workshops, which are being accredited by CPD Standards, take place in the stunning grounds of Falkland Estate in Fife and are open to public, 3rd and private sector organisations and businesses.
Founder Clare believes that Wild Workforce’s emphasis on self-care within nature is a new and cost effective way for businesses to approach their responsibilities to their workforce.
Speaking as the UK concludes Mental Health Awareness Week, which this year focuses on anxiety, she said: “I understand the business case for investing in wellbeing, especially in the current climate with absence levels at an all-time high.
“Mental wellbeing is such a critical part of business resilience. There is a real opportunity for employers to introduce evidence-based tools, including accessing nature and mindfulness, into the working environment not only to support wellbeing but to improve performance.
“My experience as a Forest School leader was part of the evolution towards creating Wild Workforce. These workshops take some of the skills and approaches from that discipline, tailoring them to the workplace and the employee life-cycle.”
As well as workshops which aim to inform, develop skills and encourage reflection, Wild Workforce will provide businesses with tailored support to encourage use of outdoor spaces.
Long term employee absence will also be a focus of the company.
Wild Workforce will also support teams as well as individuals and is offering a Membership scheme which will enable companies to demonstrate their commitment to employee mental wellbeing.
Founder Clare is a member of the CIPD, CPD Standards, graduate of MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) and has both mental health and outdoor first aid qualifications.