Time for a (gardening) break: impacts of a “green exercise” initiative for staff health and wellbeing in a corporate environment

Christie, Mark ORCID logo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4246-0895 , Hulse, Louise and Miller, Paul K. ORCID logo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5611-1354 (2020) Time for a (gardening) break: impacts of a “green exercise” initiative for staff health and wellbeing in a corporate environment. Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture, 30 (1). pp. 1-24. Item availability may be restricted.

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Workplace health remains high on the agenda for many employers today, not simply due to extant legislative requirements but also the business-related costs of unchecked psychological and somatic health problems within a workforce. Although a robust body of literature has emerged in recent years indicating that absenteeism, presenteeism, low staff morale, reputational damage and reductions in overall turnover can be all be corollaries of businesses failing to engage sufficiently with workplace health issues, rather less research has directly investigated the efficacy of “green exercise” interventions for combating such problematic outcomes in corporate environments. Given the above, this paper reports findings from an ethnographic study of a green exercise initiative (“Green Minds”) devised for staff at a single campus-based university in the UK. Specifically, the research sought to elucidate and “unpack” the health and wellbeing impacts reported by N=7 (mean age 52.29, mean years of service 12.86) participants across the course of their engagement with the initiative itself, with a specific focus upon the mediating and moderating factors involved. Participants were interviewed while actively taking part in the embedded activities, and again after the initiative “closed” for an indefinite period (due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Additionally, the two field-investigators on the research the team took reflective notes and collected photographic evidence to augment these interview data.

Five core themes emerged from the analysis: (1) Nature-based collective activity as a useful and necessary “escape” from work-related stressors; (2) Social connectedness was enhanced as a result of participation in the project; (3) Beneficial impacts upon individual health and wellbeing, themselves related to (4) Self-empowerment, and; 5) Exclusivity factors were reflected upon. The reported everyday benefits of participation in this form of activity suggest employers might consider developing group-based green exercise opportunities for staff as a useful, and relatively inexpensive, contribution to corporate goals relating to workplace health.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture
Publisher: American Horticultural Therapy Association
ISSN: 1088-3487
Departments: Institute of Health > Rehabilitation and Sport Science
Depositing User: Paul Miller
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2020 08:25
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2024 11:02
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/5644
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