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How Giving Plants To Your Employees Can Transform Your Company

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Mike Robinson and his wife run a small engineering firm in Canada that employs about twenty people.  Mike handles the technical side of the business and his wife handles the people.  Several years ago, his wife, Suzanne, came to him with an idea.  Why not give every member of the company a plant they could keep at their desk?

Mike was skeptical.  After all, twenty employees meant twenty plants, plus decorative pots and potting soil.  It represented a completely unnecessary expense that ran a few hundred dollars.  In addition to that, there was the fact that caring for the plants would eat into the productivity of the company.

Even if each employee only took five minutes a day to care for their new plants, that amounted to 100 minutes a day, or more than four hundred hours over the course of a year.

That’s a lot of downtime for a small business to eat.  Then, of course, there was the idea that after spending hundreds of dollars on plants, a significant percentage of them would probably die anyway, which would mean that all the time and money spent would literally have been wasted.

Suzanne persisted and won the debate between them.  The company’s employees got their own plants.  In fact, Suzanne turned it into a fun event.  She ordered a variety of plants and arranged them on a conference table.  All of the employees were invited to go in and select their own plant, but from the perspective OF the plants. 

It was a bit like speed dating, but with plants and the idea behind it was that these plants weren’t going to be just bits of desktop décor, but office mates.  To that end, each plant got a little sign to go into its pot declaring ‘I’m (Employee Name’s) Friend.’ To create a connection between a specific plant and a specific employee.

We have the perfect gift for you or your employees. This lively planter set will bring your desk to life while you watch it grow and sprout over weeks and months.

As predicted, employees did spend a bit of time every day tending to their plants and even showing them off, but the impromptu experiment had a variety of other effects that neither Mike nor Suzanne had counted on.

What they had hoped was that the presence of a few plants would liven up the office space and do a little something to improve morale.

Plants Increased Employee Productivity by 30%

They hadn’t counted on the fact that employee productivity would jump almost 30% and that the simple addition of plant life to the office would have such a profound transformation, even resulting in people keeping their desks neater in a bid to better display and show off their chosen plant!

Their experiment has been running for five years now and the company is doing better than it ever has.  They’ve continued to expand and each new employee they hire gets to pick his or her very own plant companion.

Exactly none of the plants have died in the five years that the experiment has been running.  In fact, at the first sign of a plant in distress, the employees rally around, research and get to the bottom of it, determining if the trouble is too much water, not enough, too much light or not enough, or simply that the soil needs an infusion of nutrients in the form of fertilizer to keep the ailing plant healthy. 

Not Just Plants – They are Office Mates

They’re not just plants, they’re office mates.  Friends, and that fact has become an integral part of the company’s culture.

Mr. Robinson was so impressed by the changes he noticed in his business that he wanted to share his experience with others, but to be fair, there was a lot going on in his business and he couldn’t be sure that the entirety of the productivity improvement was attributable to the addition of the plants.

To that end, he started doing research and what he found was very much in line with his own experiences.  As it turns out, quite a lot of research has been done on the impact of adding plants in the workplace.

Plants Decrease Stress & Increase Creativity

In addition to bearing out the fact that adding plants results in a 20-30% increase in productivity, scientists uncovered a raft of other benefits, including a reduction in employee stress levels and an increase in employee engagement, creativity, and cooperation. 

It seems that we’re genetically hardwired to cooperate in a natural environment and the presence of plants in an office environment is sufficient to trigger a significant change in behavior.

The good news is that Mike Robinson’s company isn’t unique.  If you’re a business owner and you’re looking for a scientifically proven means of boosting employee productivity, creativity and morale, start by adding plants to your office space.  Start by giving every employee who works for you their very own plant buddy, then stand back and watch the transformation occur at your own firm. 

If it’s an idea that captures your imagination, here are a few plant recommendations based on the amount of light your office space tends to get:

The Best Plants For Low Light

If your office environment doesn’t get a lot of natural light, then in order to ensure your plants stay healthy, you need to select varieties that thrive in that type of environment.  Here are a few possibilities:

The Emerald Palm – With glossy, two-tone leaves, the Emerald Palm or Eternity Plant presents an attractive profile and is extremely easy to care for.  It has a soft, welcoming appearance that many of your employees are sure to love.

Snake Plant – This one goes by a number of informal names, including Saint George’s Sword and Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, but they all refer to an attractive species of flowering plant that’s native to West Africa.  It’s both versatile and easy to care for, which makes it an excellent option to consider.

Aglaonema – An incredibly popular flowering houseplant that thrives in low light and is rumored to bring good luck to those who own them. 

The Best Plants For Medium Light

Anthurium – Also called Laceleaf or The Flamingo Flower, this brightly colored flowering plant grows in a range that extends from the northern part of Mexico, all the way to Argentina.  It’s delightfully easy to care for and certainly makes a bold statement.

Monstera Deliciosa – How can you not fall in love with a plant that’s also fondly called the Swiss Cheese Plant?  With its fern-like leaves and hardy nature, this one belongs on your shortlist of options to consider.

Schefflera Arboricola – Also known as the Dwarf Umbrella Tree, it’s an attractive, easy to care for option that looks great in just about any setting.

The Best Plants For High Light

There are literally scores of great plant options open to you if your office has the advantage of ample sunlight, but among the top contenders are:

  • Echeveria, which has an almost otherworldly look to it
  • Zebra Grass or Aloe Vera, both of these have a similar structure, with zebra grass being much more vibrantly colored, but both being fantastic options.
  • Philodendron Bipinnatifidum, or Lacy Tree, which features simple, deeply lobed leaves that are a breathtaking shade of green.
  • And Ficus Benghalensis, or the Banyan Fig tree, which is as beautiful as it is hardy.

Invest in your employees by investing in some plants and letting every employee you have working for you adopt a plant buddy for his or her desk.  You will be thrilled at the results!

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