Find The Balance

It used to be that holidays were an excuse to throw caution to the wind, as well as the diet, just occasionally.  These days, with domestic and international travel being a regular aspect of working life, more and more of us are trying our best to keep our waist lines trim, no matter where we are in the world.  Eating at the right times, enjoying local fruits and vegetables, hitting the hotel gym or the shore line for a quick jog are important in fighting modern health scourges like diabetes and heart disease.

The same concerns are now influencing policies on corporate travel of all types.  According to C&IT magazine [1], “this year health and wellness feature very high on the agenda.”  It is a reflection of employers’ increasing concern for the welfare of their employees that, “spa sessions, yoga and other wellbeing experiences are built into corporate event programmes.”

Individual choice

When planning company conferences, activity events, corporate hospitality and incentive travel programmes, the wellbeing of the participants is an essential factor.  Some guests will have medical conditions or allergies that restrict what they can eat and of course we already pay close attention to their needs.  At a more general level however, a balanced approach to menus should reflect the wide range of tastes and preferences of modern society.  Equally, the balance between work or play versus rest is just as critical when creating the timetable.

The element of choice, in all respects, is important in treating every person as an individual with personal preferences and different lifestyles.  The inclusion of optional activity periods in an event or travel programme allow individuals to decide for themselves.  They may decide to go to the gym, take a stroll in the fresh air, do some shopping or just chill in the bar.  Some may choose an alcoholic nightcap at the hotel bar, whilst others may prefer to stick to water and smoothies for the entirety of their trip. Treating guests, delegates or prize winners as intelligent adults will help them to get optimum enjoyment and benefit from attending the event.

Make it work

The UK-based not-for-profit organisation Positive Impact is focused on sustainable events and the role that events can play in improving health and wellbeing.  They suggest that by making health a priority, leading by example, and incorporating health-focused education and awareness, your meetings can be a force for good in society, while at the same time accomplishing your organisation’s goals [2].

Their top seven tips are:

  1. Use success stories: Inspire people to make health and wellbeing a priority
  1. Encourage physical activity during event breaks: Getting active improves physical health, lowers rates of mental health problems and raises satisfaction levels
  1. Events can promote good nutrition: Offering fruit and natural snacks at your events increases awareness of the benefits of healthy eating
  1. It’s all connected: Event organisers and participants have a shared responsibility in promoting good health and wellbeing
  1. Assess yourselves: Get advice from experts on sustainability and regularly assess how your event could be improved.
  1. Offer free water: Making free water easily available at your events encourages attendants to stay hydrated, which has many positive health implications.
  1. Research more ways to make events healthy: Everything from discouraging smoking to allowing plenty of time for rest and relaxation can help to make your events healthier.  It should be a key consideration in the planning process, otherwise it will get overlooked as the last stages of preparation get hectic.

We must always remember that live events are an opportunity for people to mix and enjoy shared experiences. It is important to strike the right balance between the aims of the event organisers and the interests of the individual – provide the tools, but allow individuals to proceed as they wish!