All In Together: Engaging Employees on Sustainability
Why is a Sustainable Workplace Important?
In a lifetime, it is said working Americans spend more time at their place of work than at their own homes, and over the years, this has put the onus on employers to create healthy and sustainable work environments, along with compiling competitive benefits to attract and retain workers. A healthy and sustainable work environment makes a long workday more enjoyable and correlates to happier, more engaged employees. Studies have shown this helps boost employee productivity and morale, and results in fewer work-related illnesses, injuries, and accidents. Ultimately it has a positive effect on a company’s bottom line.
Nearly 40% of millennials have chosen a job because of company sustainability. Less than a quarter of gen X respondents said the same, and 17% of baby boomers.
Swytch Survey: the result of conversations with 1,000 employees at large U.S. companies
With the rise of the millennial workforce and its demand for socially conscious workplaces, it is no wonder that employers are taking notice. While it might seem frivolous to some business owners, that fact is integrating social causes into business operations, like building a sustainable workplace, is a good investment for the future. And according to a January 2008 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 61% of employees were more likely to stay at a company because of the organization’s sustainability program. As a result, a sustainable workplace helps companies save thousands of dollars in hiring, training, compensation, benefits, etc.
Recycling as a Way to Begin
One common and low barrier to entry into the sustainable workplace movement is that of a recycling program. Because workers generate the most waste in an office environment, the sustainability effort starts with them. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in the average workplace, about 80 – 90 percent of solid waste is actually recyclable. More and more businesses and employees are realizing the importance of recycling and the difference it can make.
- Cost and Time Savings
- Help with universal participation and compliance
- Effective way to track overall green progress
- Reduces the amount of waste that goes into landfills
- Reduces company’s carbon footprint
- Builds Morale Among Staff
Before pushing a conservation program like recycling forward, it is vital for companies to keep track of the amount of waste that they produce every year. Above all, with this information, employers can make real sense of the meaningful impact it can have. While at first, it might seem like an insurmountable task, when broken down it really is manageable. Certainly, engaging employees in the form of Green Teams to help out can easily make a program up and running in a few weeks. There are many resources out there to help support these efforts, but here is a summary of an action plan to get you and your employees thinking and motivated to take the first step in a more sustainable workplace.
Make the Commitment
Assemble a (Green) Team
Conduct a (Waste) Audit
Develop a Plan
Make It Easy
Launch Your Program
Publicize Program Success
Purchase Recycled Content
Encourage and Engage Others
It’s easy to update your sustainability goals on your company website, but changes in the office can be difficult. Make sure to recognize your Green Team colleagues and reward positive change. A small present like a reusable water bottle, coffee cup or canvas bag could also help kickstart your efforts. When it comes to sustainability, leaders’ actions speak louder than words and play a vital role in reaffirming company values to employees.
“From my perspective, it’s a competitive advantage for large enterprises to really align themselves with employees’ ideas about creating more environmentally sustainable choices.”
Evan Caron, co-founder of Swytch, the blockchain-based clean energy platform