Improve employee attitudes and well-being with exposure to trees and nature

The start of another weekday and we commute to work, only to be met by a dark cubicle or office covered in various shades of beige and grey. Ever wonder why your mood starts to match the walls? It’s because workplace environment contributes to employee health.

Employees who have a view of nature from their desk experience a myriad of benefits. They 1) find their job more challenging, 2) are less frustrated about tasks, 3) feel greater enthusiasm for the job, 4) report feelings of higher life satisfaction and 5) report better overall health than their coworkers without a view. Additionally, desk workers without a view of nature claim 23% more incidences of illness over a six-month period.

Exposure to nature also reduces employee stress. Employees with more nature contact at work report significantly less perceived stress and stress-related health complaints. As workday nature contact increases, there is a decrease in perceived stress and general health complaints. Stress influences mental health as well as increases the likelihood of chronic diseases, e.g. heart disease and cancer. The importance of nature and trees cannot be understated.

 

Employers can improve employee attitudes, health and well-being simply by altering the work environment to increase employees’ views of trees and nature. Ideas to implement the concept may include increasing access to views by lowering or eliminating cubical walls and swapping rooms that block views with an open-concept type layout. Take it a step further and increase the landscaping surrounding the building. Plant large canopy trees that can be seen from multiple locations and levels. Include trails and seating areas that invite employees outside to walk and relax. Give your employees the holiday gift of happiness.

For more information and links to published research, visit human health in the Vibrant Cities Lab, The Role of Nature in the Context of the Workplace and Healthy Workplaces: The Effects of Nature Contact at Work on Employee Stress and Health.

Article written by: Olivia Witthun, WI DNR Urban Forestry Coordinator, 414-750-8744, Olivia.Witthun@wisconsin.gov

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