Employee burnout is practically an epidemic in the American workplace. Taking a toll on employees are stress levels, preoccupation with issues going on outside of work, and overall fatigue.
Take Jim, who is thinking about an upcoming vacation—he’s burnt out and needs a break from the monotony of work. Lisa has a sick kid at home with the babysitter and is worried about how things are going. Lane has a pile of work building up because he’s covering for a colleague who has been sick.
Is there a Jim, Lisa and Lane in your workplace? (We are guessing the answer is yes.) This issue described is called presenteeism, when employees are at work but they’re not really “there” because the stress, malaise and distraction they feel is draining their productivity and negatively impacting the work culture.
Absent workers cost employers around $150 billion per year, but those who came to work and were not productive cost companies $1,500 billion per year. That’s 10 times the drain on an employer’s revenue, according to a Global Corporate Challenge (GCC) study.
Businesses can improve productivity—and revenues—by reducing presenteeism. And, the good news is, nature is good medicine. Employers that include green infrastructure on their properties and give employees exposure to nature can help combat mental fatigue, and improve work performance and satisfaction, according to a study by the University of Washington, Green Cities: Good Health.
When park spaces, walkways and other green infrastructure elements are built into workplace environments, it provides a calming and inspiring setting that encourages learning, curiosity and alertness, the study says.
Here are 5 ways that investing in green infrastructure can deliver positive returns for businesses.
#1 Improved Productivity
Employees take an average of 4 sick days per year, but admit to being unproductive an average of 57.5 days every year, according to the GCC study. That’s a lot of time when employees are at work, but not working at full capacity. Green spaces give employees a mental break and the fresh air wakes up the senses, improves concentration, and stimulates thinking.
#2 Better Morale
Getting outside simply makes you feel good. You have Vitamin D from sunshine, the feel of the breeze, the sounds of nature. Contact with nature is healthy for workplaces, and increasing experiences in green space can enhance the work experience, according to a study, Healthy Workplaces: The Effects of Nature Contact at Work on Employee Stress and Health. Employees with access to greenspace report greater job satisfaction and find their work more engaging.
#3 More Physical Activity
When someone says, “I need to take a walk to air out my brain,” or, “I could use some fresh air,” they’re responding to their body’s natural desire to get outside and experience nature. When we are closed into work environments that lack views of nature, and we do not have an opportunity to get out into greenspace, we become more sedentary and less motivated. Exercising, even a walk in green space boosts physical and mental health. It also gives employees that needed mental break from the indoors. Employers that include green infrastructure like walking paths give workers an incentive to get out and move.
#4 Reduced Stress
Chronic stress negatively impacts health and wellbeing, and employers can end up feeling the financial impact when employees miss work or struggle with psychological and psychological side effects. The World Health Organization identifies stress and low physical activity as the two leading contributors to premature death in developed nations like the U.S. Exposure to nature can reduce stress, and even having views of nature can help employees alleviate stress and improve productivity, says the University of Washington Study. People can lower stress and restore their sense of calm (which is beneficial for the workplace) when they can frequently visit green space. Including green infrastructure on your commercial property provides a constant opportunity for healthy restoration.
#5 Opportunities to Socialize and Collaborate
Outdoor spaces that give employees an opportunity to gather, share, socialize and collaborate can encourage imagination. We spend an awful lot of time at work, so creating an environment where positive relationships can bloom is important for a company’s culture. Outdoor seating areas, pathways and other green infrastructure give employees a way to get out of their typical office setting and explore new ideas while building relationships.
Experience How Green Infrastructure Impacts Employee Performance
Investments in green infrastructure improve employee productivity and morale, reduce stress, encourage physical activity, and provide opportunities to develop healthy relationships with co-workers. Nature is good medicine for your employees and for your bottom line. Find out how green infrastructure can be included on your commercial property so you can gain the benefits.
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