Using plants to help tackle sickness absence

07/11/2012

National Stress Awareness Day, Wednesday, 7 November 2012

As National Stress Awareness Day puts the spotlight on wellbeing at work, Ambius, the world leader in enhancing buildings through planting, scenting and artwork, is encouraging businesses to maximise the benefits of planting in the office environment. Research has found that bringing plants into the workplace can help improve morale, reduce sickness absence and improve productivity.

Recognising that budgets for discretionary costs such as planting are under scrutiny, Ambius offers a free Biophilia toolkit at www.ambius.co.uk/biophilia.  Translating as ‘love of life’ or ‘love of living systems’, biophilia recognises the instinctive need for humans to be in touch with nature. The toolkit draws on scientific studies which show the link between closeness to nature and wellbeing making it easier for businesses to understand how they can boost employee engagement and productivity.

Kenneth Freeman, International Technical Director for Ambius, presented biophilia as a tool to enhance wellbeing at the International Facilities Management Association's conference in San Antonio last week.  Kenneth says: “This year’s theme for National Stress Awareness Day is ‘Defining Outcomes for Wellbeing at Work’ and we can help employers make positive changes with clever planting. There are hard facts to prove the connection between improved wellbeing and plants in the workplace, so it would be unwise for HR managers and directors to dismiss the benefits as meaningless.

“We know for example, plants can reduce depression, anxiety and overall stress. Simply by allowing staff to engage with a workspace enriched with planting and artwork, employers can see a boost in productivity by up to 17% with effects on wellbeing increasing by similar amounts.”*

Research has revealed 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%

“It’s clear that work spaces have a huge impact on how well people do their jobs. Buildings with plants in them are quieter, more relaxed and at the same time more stimulating and interesting. Plants have positive effects on people, helping to enhance moods and reduce stress. National Stress Awareness Day is the perfect time for employers to harness the power of plants to boost their workforce,” concludes Kenneth Freeman.

November 2012

* Prism (Psychological Research into Identity and Space Management) is a research-based consultancy based at the University of Exeter in the southwest of England, co funded by Ambius. With over 25 years commercial experience, most of it in the field of office design, Craig Knight has now applied his knowledge to academic research. Under the supervision of world-renowned psychologist, Professor Alex Haslam, Craig’s published PhD thesis (The Psychology of Office Space: Determinants of Social Identity, Well-being and Productivity) has already been acclaimed. Ongoing research within Prism is aimed at continually refining the workplace model and offering a research-backed consultancy service to companies around the world.

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

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