Dubbed the “Sunny Day Policy”, property developer BEKL is encouraging its employees to use one day of sick or personal leave per fortnight to enjoy the warm and sunny weather in whichever way they choose.
Focusing on employee wellness, the aim of the Sunny Day Policy is to promote physical and mental health by allowing the team to decide on a given (sunny) day if they would like to enjoy the outdoors, rather than spend the day working.
Managing director Katherine Liu said BEKL recognised the need to encourage and uplift their employees throughout the pandemic, and were inspired to create an exciting change.
“All of our directors are very active and health conscious, but while working from home during lockdown, we began to realise that many of our employees were sitting in front of their computers for the entire day,” Ms Liu said.
“When we worked from the office, we would go for a walk or a coffee run together, so as a means of encouraging our team to get out more during the day, we introduced the Sunny Day Policy as a way to motivate everyone to be more active.”
The policy was originally introduced at the height of Melbourne’s lockdown when cafés, restaurants and other social spots were closed, meaning the only place to see family and friends was outside in a park.
BEKL wanted to facilitate those interactions even further and having received a rave response, they’ve now extended it past the tough lockdown period.
“We are big believers in work/life integration and want our team to be able to switch off from their work, enjoy the outdoors and get some vitamin D when the opportunity presents itself,” Ms Liu said.
“We also strongly believe productivity is boosted when our staff return and have been able to take the time to rejuvenate.”
Ms Liu said the initiative aims to pave the way for workers to feel that wellbeing in the workplace is taken seriously, promoting mutual understanding and positive workplace culture.
Just this week, a new Productivity Commission report estimated the cost of mental ill-health and suicide in Australia in the order of around $220 billion each year.
The report revealed that in 2018–19, the annual cost to the economy of mental ill-health and suicide in Australia was estimated to be up to $70 billion. On top of the $70 billion, the Productivity Commission estimated the cost of disability and premature death due to mental illness, suicide and self-inflicted injury was equivalent to a further $151 billion per year.