What makes employees happy? What makes workers more productive? Two golden questions asked by management the world over. After all, a happy, productive workforce equals more bottom line profit and everyone’s a winner. Research into workplace wellbeing has been pretty extensive over the years, with ideas coming and going. In more recent years, the general consensus has been ‘A tidy desk is a tidy mind’ leading to employers adopting ‘clean desk’ policies, forbidding employees to personalise their work spaces. No photos, no plants, no mess at the end of each working day. The idea is that if the work environment is clean and free from clutter, it naturally follows that workers are happier and more able to focus. The problem is, the idea seems to have been taken too far, with workplaces becoming clinical and unwelcoming.
Recent research from Exeter University refutes the whole minimalist theory, saying that stark offices, lacking personal touches, are toxic environments to put humans into and that a few houseplants dotted around can make a massive difference to happiness and productivity.
How does that work? Well it makes sense when you think about it. We spend a great chunk of our lives in our work environment, as we do our homes. It’s the little touches that transform a house into a home. Why should the workplace be any different? Of course there are other people to consider, so Justin Bieber posters plastered all over the walls or knick knacks covering every available space are not to be encouraged, but what does help workers feel happy, relaxed and productive, is a little bit of greenery. What was also interesting from the study, is that a few photos would equally have a positive effect on performance and wellbeing.
So if you want de-stressed, hard working employees who take less sick days, get yourself down to the garden centre, buy a few plants, decorate your offices with them and watch as work rate increases, by up to 15%.