There are many, many simple ways that businesses can engage better with nature for the benefit of not only employee wellbeing, but organisational culture – and even leadership.
Some of those are direct methods, such as gardening clubs, growing or including plants or images of nature into work areas, while others are more academic: applying the lessons and logic from nature directly into business structure or roles. For example, the adaptability, problem solving and teamwork characteristics of a honeybee colony are enlightening, practical and effective. You don’t have to dress up as a honeybee.
There is, however, nothing quite like getting your hands dirty when it comes to wellbeing and boosting happiness, and it’s got something to do with the soil microbes. Part of the natural life cycle, and critical to our species survival, soil (that includes compost) is teeming with life. It’s important for plants’ nutrients and an essential part of the ecosystem. In much the same way that skin is to humans. Scientists have shown how having physical contact with soil exposes our skin to Mycobacterium vaccae; a bacterium that is shown to have similar effects as Prozac and other antidepressants on human mood. Contact with soil causes an increase in cytokine levels, which in turn promote the production of serotonin – the “happy chemical”.
So, having an office herb garden (indoors or out); a gardening club; or allowing a group to plant up those bare patches of land around your offices, could not only boost morale, but reduce stress levels, too. All of this makes for a healthier and happier workforce. So, clearly, physical contact is going to have the most efficacious results, however, if dressing up as honeybee was the bit you were looking forward to, I’m going to explore in next week’s article how business systems and processes can apply lessons learnt from nature to improve communication; leadership skills and teamwork.
Einstein was right: “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better”.