What’s an instant recipe for growing  morale? Just add dirt.
Some companies have  found a fun and innovative way to engage employees by providing an unlikely benefit: a vegetable garden. This growing trend was recognized as one of the best ideas in Human Resources recently.
Minneapolis PR and branding company Haberman & Associates  spent about $10,000 last year to start a garden for its employees.  “It’s creating that water-cooler effect,” company co-founder and chief executive Fred Haberman says “People have a greater excitement [about] working at Haberman.”
Haberman’s off-site garden, called the “Dude Ranch,” was recognized by Human Resource Executive magazine editors as one of the Best HR Ideas for 2010.” You can follow the company’s growing season, or get tips on how to start an employer-sponsored garden yourself, at the project blog.
The National Gardening Association says vegetable gardening is up about 20 percent, although it’s not clear how much of that is done by companies. But a growing number of firms have taken up the hoe including Google, Yahoo, Kohl’s, PepsiCo and Twisted Limb Paperworks, which began a 1,500-square-foot garden outside its offices to boost engagement, as this Washington Post story relates.
University of Maryland business professor Paul Tesluk says a garden can encourage camaraderie, help in recruiting and differentiate a business from competitors. Perhaps it’s time to plant a row for employee morale and engagement and, of course, to just say Thanks!

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