Benefits of Plants

Anybody who knows me well knows I am passionate about plants. Some would call it an addiction… My yard stands out in my neighborhood. Plants, big and small, are all welcome! Same with my house. Sometimes I feel I am living in a jungle!

A few weeks ago, to my sheer delight, I read an article about how important plants are in the workplace! One more space to conquer!

The article “Les bienfaits des plantes vertes au travail”, published by Radio Canada last year, informs us that studies show that workers surrounded by plants are happier and see their productivity increased. As an added bonus, plants are known to be great air purifiers.

It has been shown they are more pollutants and at higher concentrations in offices than in city streets. Benzene, formaldehyde, and other nasty chemicals emanate from carpets, glues, paints, office machines. Plants can help reduce the level of those chemicals by absorbing and transforming them into harmless substances. Now, of course, one plant is not going to create pure mountain air in your little cubicle, but it does help a bit. You would have to have a veritable jungle (like in my house!) to feel a difference.

In some countries, providing green spaces where people can re-generate, is a matter of public health. In Japan, they have what they call forest bathing, « shinrin-yoku ». People are encouraged to take walks in forests, empty their mind and let nature heal them. Japanese scientists have proven the benefits of this practice on the immune and cardiovascular systems. Stress hormone, cortisol, just plummets to normal level after forest bathing.

Nature does have a positive effect on our brains. So why not bring nature indoors?

Of course, I am not saying that we should plant trees in our offices. Even a few plants here and there can help make our environment more pleasant and make a positive impact on us.

Be happy, put a plant in your office J

By Fabrice Ligny




What Contributes to Employee Satisfaction?

  1. Respectful treatment
  2. Compensation
  3. Trust between employees and senior management
  4. Job security
  5. Opportunities to use skills and abilities

SHRM Magazine “Prevent Burnout with Empathy” August 2017, Source:  Society for Human Resources Management 2017

Tips for Making Your Workplace a Better One

  • Give jobs meaning: Tell employees how their efforts positively affect others
  • Build trust: Showing you have faith in employees’ goodness greatly benefits our company
  • Hire people better than you: Assess candidates on previously identified job attributes, maybe even leave the hiring manager out of the process entirely
  • Pay “unfairly”: Pay the strong performers more than those in the middle of the pack.  Implement at least a 50 percent pay spread among employees, if not competitor may pick off the best employees
  • Offer a nudge: Stress the importance of new employees to get full productive in six months by ensuring the office space and equipment is ready when they start
  • Repeat: Put in continual effort

SHRM Magazine “Happy at Work?” September 2017, Christina Folz

What Wears on Employees

The top 3 reasons employees wear out according to HR professionals are:

  • Unfair pay (41%)
  • Unreasonable workload (32%)
  • Too much overtime or after-hours work (32%)

SHRM Magazine “Burned Out” March 2017, Source:  Kronos and Future Workplace

Is there an ROI on Employee Recognition?

While we understand it is important to positively recognize our team members, even though many people feel they don’t have the time to do so.  Did you know many studies show the number one driver of employee engagement is employee recognition?

Employee recognition programs have an impact on retention.  The Society of Human Resources Management conducted a study and found organizations with employee recognition programs have 23.4% less turnover than organizations without.

The cost of turnover is at least 20% of an employee’s salary.  Just by implementing an employee recognition program we could save money by reducing turnover.  This doesn’t have to be formal, it could be a manager sending an email acknowledging an employee for going above and beyond or being adaptable to an unexpected situation.  Employee recognition is important!

“What is the ROI of Employee Recognition” Jenny Watkins, June 6, 2017

Employee Recognition from Managers

Results from a Gallup Workplace Survey in which employees were asked to recall the most meaningful and memorable recognition they received showed the most memorable recognition comes from…managers!!  According to Forbes 94% of employees with high morale shared their mangers effectively recognize them.  What is a powerful way to engage your team??  Recognition from managers.

Managers may push back and tell you they can’t remember to do this or are too busy to participate in the recognition process.  However, it is vital to involve managers in the process.

“Memorable Recognition from Managers”, August 23, 2017, Jenny Watkins

How to Prevent Burnout with Empathy

Ever wonder why some people never seem to get burned out despite difficult conditions in their workplace? The answer lies in part with empathy, an emotional intelligence competency packed with potent stress-taming powers. When you engage empathy, you seek to understand people’s needs, desires and points of view. You feel and express genuine concern for their well-being.

Research shows that expressing empathy produces physiological effects that calm us and strengthen our long-term sustainability. So not only do others benefit from our empathy, we benefit, too. Here’s a two-part strategy that can help break the burnout cycle.

  1. Practice Self-Compassion


Stop trying to be a hero and start caring for yourself. Here are two practical ways to do that:

Curb the urge to overwork. When the pressure is on, we’re often tempted to work more hours to “get on top of things.” But overwork is a trap. Just doing more rarely fixes problems, and it usually makes things worse, because we are essentially manufacturing our own stress.

We shut the proverbial door on others, thinking that, if we can get away, we can at least do our job without getting caught up in people’s drama. When nothing changes or things get worse, we give up—which leads to isolation and more stress. It’s a vicious cycle. So, instead of working more, find ways to renew yourself when you’re stressed: Exercise, practice mindfulness, spend more time with loved ones and get more sleep.

Stop beating yourself up. Stress is often the result of being too hard on ourselves when we don’t meet our own expectations. Acknowledge how you feel and that others would feel similarly in the same situation. Be kind and forgiving. Shifting your mindset from threatened to self-compassion will strengthen your resiliency.


  1. Show Empathy

Taking steps toward self-compassion will prepare you emotionally to reach out to others. But let’s face it: Empathy is not the norm in many workplaces. In fact, lack of empathy and even the depersonalization of others are symptoms of the emotional exhaustion that comes with burnout. Here are a few tips to make empathy part of how you deal with people at work:

Build friendships. Most people can rattle off a dozen reasons why you shouldn’t be friends with co-workers. We believe just the opposite. Real connections and friendships at work matter—a lot.

According to the Harvard Grant Study, one of the longest-running longitudinal studies of human development, having warm relationships is essential to health, well-being and happiness. Other research shows that caring for and feeling cared for by others lowers our blood pressure and enhances our immunity.

Value people for who they are. Too often when we talk to others, we hear what we want to instead of really listening. Our biases and stereotypes get in the way of our ability to understand and connect with others. The resulting conflicts cause unnecessary stress. To prevent this, be curious about people. Ask yourself, “How can I understand where this person is coming from?” Listen with an open mind.

Coach people. According to a 2012 study in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, coaching others has positive psychophysiological effects that restore the body’s natural healing and growth processes and improve stamina. When we care enough to invest time in developing others, we become less preoccupied with ourselves, which balances the toxic effects of stress and burnout.

One caution: Empathy and compassion can be powerful forces in our fight against stress—until they aren’t. Caring too much can take a toll on your emotional resources and lead to more stress, so pay attention to your limits.

It’s worth the risk, though. Once you commit to caring about yourself, you can start to care about others. In the process, you will create resonant relationships that are good for you and the people you work with.

HR Magazine – By Annie McKee and Kandi Wiens Jul 18, 2017

Written by Ginger Koozer




Training Managers is Important

We are all human and will make mistakes, however, the mistakes managers may make may have more of an impact.  HR’s biggest mistake may be failing to train and educate managers.  What are some mistakes we need to train our managers to avoid?

  1. Failure to document. HR 101 teaches us to document, document, document.  Be honest and direct with employees.  Document properly any performance problems, this may be done in notes, performance evaluations, e-mails and other performance documents.
  2. Neglecting to pay overtime. While many non-exempt employees want to work over 40 hours and not be paid, we need to be sure we pay them (or offer comp time).  Remember to tell managers the Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) require non-exempt employees be paid for all hours worked.
  3. Playing favorites. Indulging in gossip and stereotypes create a dynamic where a supervisor may be viewed as a henchman a not as a helpful and transparent supervisor to all.
  4. Compliance miscalculations. Many managers know of one or two HR laws, however, we need to train them on more or make sure they call us before making decisions. For example, was it taken into consideration before a recommendation for termination that an employee may be eligible for the Americans with Disabilities Act even though their Family & Medical Leave expired?
  5. Failure to accommodate. When an employee asks for an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, be sure to get Scott Lissner involved.
  6. Turning a blind eye to bullying. Offer anti-bullying training.

HR Magazine, “Mistakes Managers Make”, Jathan Janove, J. D., June/July 2017

Conflict can be Healthy

Most people avoid conflict, including in the workplace.  When conflict is approached in a positive way, conflict may spark innovation, trust and engagement.  Struggling with others through the conflict to reach acceptable solutions is referred to as “compassionate accountability”.


  • Doesn’t need to be destructive
  • Should be leveraged rather than managed or controlled
  • Can be handled with compassion

In order to promote healthy conflict managers should strive to:

  • Be more open: Empathize with others.  Understand their motives, emotions and responses.  Try asking, “How are you doing with this transition?” instead of “How did that make you feel?”  Take time to listen and validate the other person’s feelings.
  • Be more resourceful: Ask for the other person’s ideas before sharing your own.  If you disagree, respect the others’ intentions.
  • Be persistent: See things through with integrity and respect.  Make your expectations clear.  Hold yourself and others accountable.  Be sure to acknowledge when you make mistakes, and try to make it right.

Keep in mind conflict is always emotional.  We need to create a safe place for people to talk about and pursue their emotional motives and assist with developing strategies for healthy resolutions.

HR Magazine “Battle On” Dori Meinert, May 2017

Stay Positive

From time to time, we might struggle with negativity in the work place. Steve Gilliland, speaker and author of “Hide Your Goat” addresses ways to stay positive when negativity surrounds you.  Maybe your mom or dad once told you, don’t let them ‘get your goat’, what does that really mean? We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences that make up our personalities in and outside of the work place. Gilliland addresses a variety of strategies to eliminate how other push our buttons, or get the best of us. Here are a few tips we might all try to start with a positive attitude that will help us through the day.

Take your daily vitamins – literally and otherwise

Find something that brings joy to your life. Is that spending time with your family, friends, gardening, exercising, attending a concert, a hobby or something else? Make sure you schedule it to ensure you actually have time to do it!

Take a big gulp and swallow your pride

It’s hard for us at times to admit we were wrong. That just might be the best option, at times if that is truly the case.

Laughter is the best medicine

How many times do you laugh at work? How many times do you laugh when you are with your family and friends? Try to find something to lighten the day and have a laugh, hopefully it will make you feel better.

You’re responsible for you

It’s our responsibility to feed our own goat with positivity and the right diet.  Make sure we are balancing our work and life so we can enjoy both.

We have a tough job, don’t let people ‘get your goat’, stay positive and ‘Hide Your Goat’!

Written by Julie Townsend