Productivity in the workplace ... can plants help?

“Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.” ~ William Wordsworth

Every CEO or office manager is tasked with developing the much clichéd ‘high performance organisation’. Somewhere, somehow, this has become a performance measurement indicator or KPI (key performance indicator) for every senior manager and it probably sits somewhere toward the top of page one of their formal performance appraisal documents.

Ignoring the expert evidence that is now available, which shows a relationship between indoor plants and improved productivity, could put organisational performance at risk. This convincing argument emanates from the numerous and extensive studies conducted across the world. Indoor plants have the ability to contribute positively to improved organisational productivity by improving both the physical and the emotive wellbeing of employees.

Productivity can be simplistically defined as the efficiency with which things are produced. While this might be easily measured on a factory floor where both input and output are easily correlated and errors quickly rectified, the office environment needs to be treated with more of an holistic approach. Indoor plants have the ability to contribute positively to improved organisational productivity by improving both the physical and the emotive wellbeing of employees.

Productivity in the workplace is not only influenced by emotional or psychological wellbeing but just as importantly, by physical wellbeing. While absenteeism from the workplace can often be attributed to stress related illnesses and other emotional causes, it is more commonly caused by physical triggers. The presence of pollutants or volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) in the sealed air of the modern office is a proven cause of many ailments.

The negative effect of these illnesses on productivity in the workplace is high, increasing absenteeism and a more recently identified malaise, presenteeism. Presenteeism, a modern word that seems to be finding its way into many modern research documents, might be defined as the act of attending work while sick.

A study undertaken by the Cornell Institute for Health and Productivity studies in New York, estimated that productivity losses as a result of presenteeism could be as high as 60% of the total cost of worker illness. According to the Cornell researchers, this cost could well be higher than the cost to the employer of general absenteeism and other health related expenses.

Courtesy: Interior Plantscapers Association