Green Plants and Employee Outcomes White Paper

Total Length: 1808 words ( 6 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 7

Page 1 of 6

Executive Summary

In 2016, E brought a world class office space to Boston that features natural light, sweeping urban views, reclaimed timber, rooftop PV solar and green roof plantings. The E Boston headquarter building design is consistent with corporate commitments to sustainability and environmental impact. However, it is essential to consider innovative approaches to continue to improve the space for all employees.

Studies document that green plants improve indoor air quality, decrease levels of particulate matter, manage acoustics and increase general wellbeing (Lohr, 2010). According to Terappin (2012), natural design elements including plants have measurable effects on employee health and productivity. The cost of employee absenteeism, staff retention and reduced productivity due to mental stress and fatigue should be should be considered by corporations when designing green office spaces (Terrapin 2012). I will present research to support why E should invest in green plants as well as a feasible plan to add what I concluded to be the best option, potted trees and living moss wall art.

Background Information

E has brought to Boston a world class interior office space featuring natural light, sweeping urban views, reclaimed timber, energy efficiency and while following through on its commitments to sustainability and the environment. Given the impact of the new, world class interior office space, I would like to explore the option of adding green plants to the space, specifically in the form of interior Living Walls. Living Walls are panels of plants that are grown vertically on structures either in free-standing form or as attachment to walls. They have emerged as important components of sustainability in the construction industry.

Interior green plants provide many benefits. Research has documented their impact on levels of indoor air quality, particulate matter and acoustics and general wellbeing (Lohr, 2010). A study was conducted in 2008 to compare the overall job satisfaction of four groups of office workers with and without plants and with and without windows. Based on this study, 82% of the plants and windows group and 69% with plants and no windows group stated that they felt content or very happy compared with only 60% of the no plants or windows group and 58% of the no plants and no windows group as shown in the figure below (Dravigene et al., 2008).

While live plans and window views of green spaces have been found to have positive impacts on employee job satisfaction, the adoption of this concept in the workplace can be a complex process.

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It requires consideration of ecological and aesthetic factors when designing the buildings, which can be a relatively expensive and time consuming process. Moreover, this process is associated with additional costs in the design of interior office spaces, which may generate extra financial burdens to an organization or company.

Articulation of the Problem, People and Resources It Affects

As shown in the background information, live plants and window views of green spaces have been found to have significant impacts on perceptions of employees regarding job satisfaction. Existing literature has demonstrated that incorporating green design in the workplace is vital towards enhancing employee job satisfaction and outcomes. However, there are concerns regarding the costs and complexities involved in incorporating green design in the workplace. For employees, green design would help improve their overall job satisfaction and outcomes. While employers are also likely to benefit from the impact of green design on workplace productivity, the costs and complexities of incorporating green design can generate operational challenges. In essence, integrating green design in office spaces could increase operational costs, which can in turn affect operations.

Perspectives Relating to the Problem

On one hand, integrating green design in the workplace has proven beneficial in enhancing employee outcomes, job satisfaction, and overall wellbeing. Employee health has an economic value that we must be concerned with as decision makers focused on profitability. Healthcare costs are a major expense for businesses and employees today, the national average the cost for 2016 family health insurance premium at $18,142 and $6,435 for individual plans (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2016). On a national scale this represents 8% of employee compensation in the private sector (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016). According to the research health outcomes of indoor green plants are measured by improved air quality and reduce particulate matter (Lohr, 2010). While health benefits might be intuitive and easily quantifiable, it is also possible to quantify the economic benefits of a healthier employees economically. Existing research has demonstrated that green plants contributes to lowered stress levels and higher self-reported level of job satisfaction (Dravigne et al., 2008). This should therefore result in higher productivity through happy engaged and satisfied employees.

On the contrary, the specifics of the building design in terms of design aesthetics and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification requirements can pose tremendous challenges to the management. There are also issues relating.....

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Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2016). Employer Costs for Employee Compensation. Retrieved from U.S. Department of Labor website:

Dravigne A, Waliczek TM, Lineberger and Zajicek (2008, February). The Effect of Live Plants and Window Views of Green Spaces on Employee Perceptions of Job Satisfaction. HortScience 43(1):183-187.

Kaiser Family Foundation. (2016, September). Employer Health Benefits. Retrieved May 9, 2018, from

Lohr, V.I. (2010). What are the Benefits of Plants Indoors and Why Do We Respond Positively to them? Acta Horticulturea 881(2):675-682.

Terrapin. (2012). The Economics of Biophilia: Why Designing with Nature in Mind Makes Financial Sense. Retrieved May 9, 2018, from

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