Steven Brett from Bretts Plants in his nursery. Bretts Plants supply potted plants to workplaces.
Steven Brett from Bretts Plants in his nursery. Bretts Plants supply potted plants to workplaces. Brett Wortman

Plants can perk up work and improve morale

BOSSES of the Sunshine Coast, here is why you should pick up the phone and order indoor plants for your workplaces immediately.

A Washington State University study has found participants were 12% more productive and less stressed than those who worked in an environment with no plants.

Twelve per cent of an average salary of $50,000 is $6000; and one indoor plant costs about $200 per year to hire.

So, it's decision time.

You could spend that $6000 on 30 plants, or you could end up paying at least $5000 on training or recruitment agency fees (10% of that $50,000 staffer) when you need to hire a replacement for someone who quits.

Before you make the choice, know that plants lower intentions to quit, eliminating the need to retrain new staff. Why? Because they reduce stress, anxiety and sick leave, improve your business image, job satisfaction and indoor air quality and contribute generally to a lighter overall mood.

University of Technology Sydney scientist Margaret Burchett co-wrote a paper on the impact on plants in a window-less work environment, including the bottom-line breakdown above.

"Humans in their relationships with the environment have a history extending up to two million years," she said.

"We are reliant on plants for everything we need - from food to shelter, and also, (unknown to our ancestors) plants supply our oxygen, and are the sink for carbon dioxide.

"Our ancestors also recognised an essential role for plants in providing pleasure, perfumes, peace, piety and glimpses of 'paradise'. We still have the same requirements as our forebears.

"I propose that 'greening the great indoors' with living plants is an important element in enabling sustainable urban communities of the future."

Local man Steven Brett, owner of Bretts Plants, is also the president of the Interior Plantscape Association.

He has more than 100 corporate clients on the Sunshine Coast and 40 in Brisbane. They include resorts, commercial offices, schools, hospitals and shopping centres.

"There are some tried and tested proven species that do well indoors like dracaena marginata, the Janet Craig or happy plant," he said.

"The kentia palms and golden canes are also good.

"They are just a great way for the boss to show appreciation for his staff. And we always hear from people that the plants bring life to the office.

"Everyone comments and says the room feels alive - especially for clients that have no windows,'' Mr Brett said.

His research had also shown people can tell the difference between fake and real plants, and maintenance did not have to be a concern as his company handled all the watering and feeding.

"They cost from $2 a week for a little tabletop plant for a staff member.

"If a plant gets sick or you want something different, we can change it free of charge.

"We also have a 30-day free trial."

Mr Brett said the economic slowdown and Newman government public sector job cuts had conspired to deliver some truly tough times for his industry.

"The government cutbacks, which involved taking plants out of a whole lot of government buildings, removed 10% of our industry and cut $6.5 million in annual revenue.

"That was a big impact. Our association has tried to lobby government to get some form of plants back in, but that hasn't come to fruition yet.

"Our new focus is on the federal government. The Liberal Party has just released the Little Book of Big Labor Waste, and on page 26 is indoor plant hire. So we need to make sure the opposition don't cut indoor plant hire federally.

"We are in the process of getting the latest statistics on growth, turnover and how many people our industry employs, as well as the value of stock we buy each year from allied businesses like nurseries and manufacturers."

Mr Brett said although he had seen the cutback culture trickle down from the public to the private sector, he had noticed a turnaround in confidence in the past few months.

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  • Increase productivity, concentration
  • Reduce sick leave, anxiety, stress
  • Improve air quality
  • Improve business image
  • Cheaper than covering sick leave, re-training new staff