It’s one thing to say you want to lead a “green” business. Making sure your workplace adheres to eco-friendly standards to achieve that goal can be another thing entirely.
Savvy CEOs and business owners have long recognized the inherent value in adapting their products or services to meet consumer demand for sustainable offerings. These same leaders may not always recognize that building a green workplace is part and parcel of the entire organizational strategy.
The benefits of going green in the workplace are tangible. “Businesses might enjoy tax breaks that come with installing solar or energy-efficient heating and cooling,” notes Indeed. Other long-range benefits can include a decrease in employee absences, the ability to attract more environmentally conscious employees and an enhanced reputation among consumers.
Here are 5 tips to help make your workplace more sustainable and attractive to employees (and prospective employees):
1. Invite employee feedback about the workplace.
In many ways, your workforce is best suited to advise you about the types of improvements they’d like to see in a more sustainable workplace.
“To further the employee-led approach, you can consider the creation of a ‘green team’ who will be responsible for implementing the initiatives and ensuring they’re applied over time,” notes HR News. Once new initiatives have been determined, offer employees the chance to learn and understand their implications, while also allowing time “to phase out any resources that are less sustainable, such as non-recycled paper, as opposed to just disposing of them.”
2. Establish hybrid work-environment policies.
Today’s workplace is clearly in flux. Many businesses continue the practice of having employees work remotely, because of changes growing out of the pandemic, while other businesses seek to draw employees back into the office or warehouse.
Remote work practices may not be best suited for all businesses, though eco-conscious employers should fully explore this option wherever possible.
Whatever your situation, look for opportunities where employees can do less commuting, thus reducing your business’s carbon footprint. You can also “incentivize folks to carpool or use public transit by paying for or subsidizing public transit passes or rewarding carpoolers with perks,” advises Zapier.
3. Go paperless.
Eliminating paper marks a significant step in making your workplace environmentally friendly. As we have noted before, “Not only is this ecologically responsible—a face you can share with eco-minded customers—the use of digital technology to replace paper will help cut costs,” as will installing energy-efficient utilities in both your office building and storage warehouse.
4. Train your team on eco-friendly policies.
Employees may want to practice green policies, but don’t necessarily grasp how to go about it. That’s where specialized training and education come in. Key action steps include (a) sponsoring webinars and workshops on green initiatives and recycling efforts; and (b) enlisting workplace experts to offer best-practices guidelines.
Perhaps most importantly, invite a small cadre of your best employees to spearhead workplace changes. “If they feel heavily involved and hold responsibility,” notes G2, “they’re more likely to abide by your strategy daily.”
5. Reduce energy expenditures.
An office or warehouse can consume a lot of energy. To offset the costs and non-eco-friendly implications, make sure employees switch off their computers and assorted electronic devices, and turning off lights both at the end of the day and in places like conference rooms where no one is using them. As time passes, you’ll likely see both a greater awareness among employees and a reduction in energy costs.
Going green does require some time and resources but the potential pay-off is worth it—a workplace that helps retain your employees and makes your products or services more appealing to your target audience.