Can Potplants Enhance Health? (How Motivation Via Responsibility Can Add Years To Your Life – Not Just Seem Like It)
Wouldn’t it be great to have a job where you could just cruise? We’ve all probably thought that at times, probably during those times where the going was particularly uncruisey. Maybe we’ve even thought it would be great to retire and potter around, have nothing to worry about.
I MC’d a health and safety conference earlier in the year where Doctor David Beaumont spoke. David is an English Occupational Medicine specialist now resident in New Zealand. Part of his presentation related to case studies of people on longterm absences from work due to accident or illness. I was particularly struck by the stories of the impact on the people and their families, not just, or even primarily, by the financial ramifications, but by the effect on their confidence, esteem and sense of self worth caused by the removal of responsibility and purpose from their lives. And subsequently on their health – AND that of their families. It actually impacts on their recovery from the original accident. That’s why getting back to even light duties is so important, not so much for the employer to minimise their costs but for the recovery of the employee. Work provides a lot more to a person than a mere paycheck to an individual.
It reminded me of a study back in the 70s by Ellen Langer and Judith Rodin. They had two groups of nursing home residents. Both groups were gifted a potplant (a legal potplant, not the POTplant in my picture.) One group were told to enjoy the plant but not to worry their pretty little heads about looking after it. All of that would be taken care of for them. The second group were given suggestions on potplant care but the actual effort was left to the residents themselves. All participants were constantly being tested anyway so they were a great group to assess the impact of responsibility on health.
Within 3 weeks there were significant differences between the groups in health and general activity engaged in, even more pronounced after 18 months. The mortality rate of the first group (having no responsibility for their potplants’ care) was TWICE that of the group with the responsibility. In short, the quality and the quantity of many lives was enhanced.
There was more to this than just potplants but they make a nice and memorable image. The group looking after their own potplants were also given more choice and input into decision-making around their lives at the nursing home. I imagine this gave them a sense of control, even power to a degree. That sense of control and influence is important for all people, contributing not just to health but also happiness, success and so much more.
It isn’t much of a stretch to extrapolate this thinking to the workplace. As a leader of a team, what incremental responsibilities can you arrange to boost the confidence, esteem and sense of self worth of your people?
Although if you accidentally gift your staff a real POTplant, I know a guy who can do you a great deal on workplace drug testing!
Posted on September 23, 2011, in Employee Engagement, Influence, Leadership, Motivation, Responsibility and tagged Influence, Leadership, management, motivation, responsibility, supervision. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.