Employees Are Like Plants

Employees are a lot like plants. Place them in a well-nurtured environment and they will flourish. Place them in a negative environment and they will struggle to grow into their full potential.

green plants by a window

This thought comes from Tad Mitchell, corporate wellness activist and frequent WellRight Blog contributor. In a recent presentation, Mitchell shares photos of two vegetable plants in his garden. The same seeds were planted in two different areas of the garden. The plants growing in nutrient-rich soil, receiving plenty of water and sunshine, thrive while the plants struggling to live in the dry soil, receiving no support or attention, haven’t grown for some time.

The main takeaway here: employees grow best in positive environments. If an employee isn’t surrounded by a positive culture, in a physical space that feels pleasant and comfortable, or receiving the necessary support from leadership, they won’t grow to reach their full potential.

The American workplace is tiring, stressful, and surprisingly hostile according to a study of 3,066 U.S. workers by the Rand Corp., Harvard Medical School, and the University of California, Los Angeles. Only 38% of participants said their job offers opportunities for advancement and around 50% say they work on their own time to meet deadlines.

Overcoming negative attitudes from time to time is common among most organizations, but if you worry the culture may be limiting employee growth through negative communication and low morale, it’s time to take action. Below are some ways to cultivate a more positive work environment from 6Q, an employee survey platform that improves work life and office morale by connecting leaders to actionable feedback based on real-time employee responses.

young professionals in a business meeting

There are four areas to focus on: the culture, physical space, lifestyle habits, and a supportive environment.


Every company creates their own culture that is unique to their organization. This is the standard for employees and leaders to follow each day. When hiring new employees, it’s important for HR to ask themselves if the potential hire will thrive within the company’s culture. The culture needs to be exhibited at the leadership level, not only among employees. When employees see leadership is on board with the positive, open, supportive environment, they are more likely to do the same.

Physical Space  

It’s important to create a space that feels comfortable to better encourage collaboration, big thinking, and positive energy. Glassdoor recommends bringing in plants to improve air quality. It’s easier to create a positive workplace when the air isn’t dry and stuffy. Air purifiers are also a great solution for employees with allergies who might be bothered by chemicals in plants, carpeting, furniture, or dirt particles in the air.

Lifestyle Habits  

This area covers everything from healthy eating to work-life balance. When your employees feel happy, energized, and well rested, they share their positive energy with the rest of the office. 6Q explains, employees are the biggest asset to any organization, and devoting resources toward improving employee wellness can improve teamwork and productivity while reducing sick leave and workplace accidents.

Supportive Environment 

Employees want to know they are being supported at every stage of growth. An employee’s relationship with their manager could make or break their future with the organization. It is important to have an open dialogue about career goals and areas the employee may feel stressed or under prepared.

business woman meeting with her manager

As Tad Mitchell explained in his presentation, if employees aren’t growing, something is wrong. Frequent challenge encourages creativity, grit, and growth. Plus, employees will experience a confidence boost with every challenge they successfully complete. If the challenge isn’t a success, they can take the experience as a learning opportunity to better tackle the next one.

When employees are surrounded by a positive culture, in a physical space that feels clean and comfortable, and receiving support from leadership, they will grow to reach their full potential.