Green shoots for businesses tackling sickness absence

31/03/2011

Workplace enrichment company, Ambius is urging businesses to consider greening up the office environment with planting as a part of their strategy to tackle the rise in sickness levels. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that sickness absence in the workplace has risen to pre-recession levels. According to the ONS, the biggest cause of workplace absence amongst women in Q4 2010 was stress, anxiety and depression.

Jeanette Van Roy, MD of Ambius said: “There are hard facts to prove the link between wellbeing and plants in the workplace, it would be unwise for HR managers and directors to dismiss this as ‘mumbo jumbo’. We know for example plants can reduce depression, anxiety and overall stress. We also know how protective staff can become of their office plants.

Research has showed that office workers with one or more plants in their offices report reductions in*:

  • Anxiety - 37%
  • Anger - 44%
  • Depression - 58%
  • Fatigue - 38%
  • Confusion - 30%
  • Overall negativity - 65%
  • Overall stress - 50%

As a consequence, plants at work can be expected to directly increase productivity and performance as people have been shown to report fewer symptoms of ill-health (sometimes attributed to sick building syndrome) including**:

  • Sick leave in office staff
  • Sick-leave in school children
  • Coughing, wheezing
  • Sore eyes, nose, throat
  • Pain perception
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce ‘attention fatigue’
  • Intentions to leave (save on training new staff)

“For many, a plant in the workplace is their only connection with nature during the working day – indeed we spend on average just 20 minutes outside each day. We know that isn’t good for health and it’s certainly not good for business” concludes Jeanette Van Roy.

*Burchett MD, Torpy F & Brennan J, 2010, Greening the Great Indoors for Human health and wellbeing, Fin. Rep. to Hort. Aust. Ltd.

** Fjeld T, 2002, Effects of plants and artificial daylight on wellbeing and health of office workers, school children and health-care personnel, Proc. Internat. Plants for People Symp., Floriade, Amsterdam, NL.
Fjeld T et al., 1998, Effect of indoor foliage plants on health and discomfort symptoms among office workers, Indoor and Built Environment,7, 4, 204-209.
Lohr VI et al.,1996, Interior plants may improve worker productivity and reduce stress in a windowless environment, Environ. Hort., 14:2, 97-100.
Lohr VI & Pearson-Mims CH, 2000, Physical discomfort may be reduced in the presence of interior plants, HortTechnology 10:1, 53-58.
Park S-H et al., 2002, Pain tolerance effects of ornamental plants in a simulated
hospital patient room Acta Horticulturae 639, 50-52.
Clements-Croome DJ. 2008, Work performance, productivity

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