Amazon plans to bring the jungle to its employees in the form of a greenhouse, open only to employees in downtown Seattle. The project will become home to thousands of plants, including several endangered species. Inside, Amazon plans to build tree-houses, connected by suspension bridges, which employees can use and explore. But why?
Over the years, several studies on ergonomics and occupational health and safety imply that introducing plant life in the office helps improve the working environment, as well as employee happiness.
So, to keep an edge on its competitors, Amazon is taking an unexpected route to enhance employee satisfaction and loyalty. Some may also consider the move a big PR effort to cement Amazon’s place as an innovator in the world of retail.
However, experts point to the seeming impracticality of the project. For starters, there’s no guarantee Amazon workers will actually visit the greenhouse, and since it’s not a part of the regular work environment, many of the benefits that come from putting plants in the office might not reach employees.
In addition, the temperatures the greenhouse must maintain make it a sweatshop for workers looking to hang out or hold meetings. Will Amazon do something to make it a more hospitable environment for humans, as well as plants? On the other hand, employees might flock there during the winter months to stay warm.
Because of these risks, many believe Amazon’s decision was more inspired by PR benefits than just the payoff of employee satisfaction. Though, the project also does wonders for the environment and the perseveration of endangered species. The question remains, will it work or not?
Aside from winter excursions to the jungle, the exclusivity of the greenhouse may also make it attractive to employees, the media, and the public at large. Amazon plans to open the project only to employees, though it may later admit the public.
So, even though employees may not necessarily use the greenhouse, they may certainly enjoy the prestige of having access to it, and all the spotlight it gets in the media.
Benefits of Employee Happiness
Boosting employee happiness is clearly one of the main aims of the Amazon project. Employee happiness and job satisfaction results in other benefits Amazon can use to decrease turnover and increase employee productivity.
Satisfied employees who intend to stay with a company have a more vested interest improving creatively. This encourages workers to come up with unique solutions to complex problems.
Happy employees display great resilience in the face of adversity, which may come from problems at home, disputes in the office, stressing over promotions, or long hours on particular projects. Happiness helps employees handle stress better in the workplace.
As a retail giant – albeit virtual – Amazon focuses a great deal on its customer service. Happy employees are better at handling difficult customers, and maintaining a good mood in spite of negative interactions resulting from working in customer service.
Due to reduced stress, many employees escape the health perils that come with stress. As employees become less likely to develop heart conditions, diabetes, mental health problems, and other issues related to stress, the company benefits from fewer days off and less spent covering health insurance costs.
By focusing on building a positive image and a positive relationship with employees, Amazon found a creative way to get ahead of the competition in the market. If things go according to plan, not only will the greenhouse create a fun environment for employees to unwind; it will also boost employee happiness, and lower stress.