We look at ways your organisation can put the environment at the centre of its CSR policy – and why it makes perfect business sense.
Going green in your workplace is no longer just a matter of corporate social responsibility.
It’s an imperative business issue that can drive profitability and company credibility, translating into big benefits for the organisation and the planet, alike.
If you’re already thinking recycling bins and signs around the office telling people to turn their computers off, that’s a start. But there are other ways your business can and should be working on being more environmentally friendly.
Like anything, going green at work is moving into new realms. For the businesses who keep up, the gains can soon boost your bottom line. And that makes everyone feel good, improving performance and driving those extra rewarding business success stories.
So, how can your organisation be more environmentally friendly?
SERIOUSLY GOING GREEN AT WORK
Firstly, we want to just state that going green at work isn’t the warm, fluffy employee driven “I’m good at recycling” type affair it used to be. It’s a key part of any corporate social responsibility programme, but more than that, it touches all aspects of your business.
Sodexo’s ‘2017 Be the Change CSR Survey’ revealed that it’s not just business to consumer companies who are being pressed to take CSR seriously. It’s also a wise move for business to business organisations too – large and small.
If you can demonstrate sound corporate social responsibility that puts sustainability at its heart, you can engage and inspire the people who interact with your company – and your employees.
Here are five areas to consider when driving green initiatives in your company:
1. GET EMPLOYEES ON BOARD
According to the 2017 Be the Change CSR Survey, 70% of organisations recognise employees for their contribution to social and environmental initiatives in some way.
As engagement solutions experts, we’re seeing more and more conversations at HR, management and C-Suite level around how you can integrate CSR programmes into this side of the business. A little people engagement can go a long way.
We all know that millennials feel strongly about sustainability – so for businesses who leverage social and environmental initiatives as part of their wider incentives and rewards programmes, it’s a win-win situation. Staff retention will be higher for those companies that do this, as reported by Deloitte.
After all, it’s easy to ignore that recycling bin. It’s not quite so easy to ignore a well thought out staff rewards programme that puts green initiatives at its heart.
Take Campbell Soup Co. for example. They’re well and truly ahead of the eco-footprint, driving green motivational success stories with their ‘Green Appraisal’ scheme. Their aim is to reach 100% employee engagement in CSR and sustainability by 2020, through the introduction of formal evaluations of individual employee contributions to the cause.
From where we’re sitting, it shows that Campbells is a serious employer with big ideas and a long-term approach to sustainability. And that tells the world they mean business.
It also tells us that the way you communicate your expectations around energy saving and recycling, is important if you’re serious about getting results. Clear objectives are utterly crucial to getting your organisation to create behaviour change around environmental issues.
A well-designed incentives and rewards programme will certainly separate the cardboard from the cans, so to speak.
2. MAKE RECYCLING RELEVANT
If you can reduce, reuse and recycle, bingo, you could hit the CSR jackpot. Bring it into the public arena and it could even create a positive business success story that turns heads and impresses employees and local business leaders alike.
Aldi pledged to give away leftover food to homeless shelters on Christmas Eve in 2017. The praise it received on social media was enormous. Nice work if you can get it.
Yet as commended as these headlines were, giving away leftover produce isn’t anything new – Pret a Manger has been doing this for years.
It’s more a case of if you don’t do it, what happens then? It won’t be long before you’re that company who is left behind. It’s a sign of the times that everyone from hotel chains, seeking to save water, through to any company with a washroom, are looking to find ways to cut waste.
Think about it…
- Does your wash room have plastic hand soap bottles in place or do you use actual bars or soap or refillable bottles?
- Are your taps leaking in any way? Wasted water is a big problem and certain taps just don’t turn off properly, whatever anyone does.
- Could you ditch the paper towels and use a hand cloth or hand dryer machine instead?
- Do you get takeaway coffees in for meetings? Non-recyclable cups need to go – and most of them aren’t, so the best way to address this is to simply use mugs instead.
- Do you have an open access stationery cupboard? It might be time to assign this to one member of staff to look after, but explain it’s to help cut back on waste. For example, plastic pens are very bad for the environment so the fewer that get used, the better.
As Sodexo’s report notes, “food, water and electricity wastage are three key issues that every business can confront.”
It goes on to add that managers should evaluate their organisation’s place in the community and seek to make recommendations around that. Remember, it’s often small gestures that can really help your business to stand out in the world – something every organisation can look to, large or small.
3. CUT YOUR EMISSIONS
When you roll out a cycle to work scheme or promote ultra-low emission vehicles as part of a salary sacrifice scheme, you can encourage employees to help cut your carbon footprint as an employer.
Not all of us want to be the next Chris Hoy, but for those who may find cycling a breath of fresh air, there are plenty of tax efficient ways to get employees to take up their helmet and enjoy the open road.
What’s more, the health benefits will be noticeable, with fitter employees taking fewer days off sick each year.
You can also incentivise staff to car pool helping them to find employees who live nearby and share lifts to cut down their daily emissions.
Many organisations who have difficulties with a lack of parking spaces will certainly view a cycles scheme as worth the mileage. And it all adds to boosting your commitment to becoming a greener company.
4. STOP WASTING ENERGY
Beyond a genuine feel-good factor about saving the planet, doing right by the climate can drive profitability. According to the Financial Times, Proctor and Gamble signed up to meeting science-based targets to reduce its emissions with outstanding results.
These energy efficiency measures have already saved P&G $500m with potential for even more savings ahead. Almost 300 other companies have also signed on to similar science-based targets including Coca-Cola, Pfizer and Sony.
With UK government initiatives focusing on rewarding businesses who show energy efficient savings, it’s time to get down with the latest green initiatives. You may or may not be relieved to hear that it’s more than just a case of reminding employees to do the right thing about switching off computers and lights as they go.
While your staff have a role to play, this is where you hold all the cards. Because it’s going to take action from HR and managers to implement better energy efficiency, full stop. The onus can’t entirely be on the employee. When you recognise that and put green thinking at the centre of your CSR strategy, behaviour change will follow.
Ask the following:
- Does your business have good insulation?
- Have you explored options for using solar or wind energy or other renewables?
- Could you get your lights hooked up to sensors so toilet switches aren’t left on?
- Do you have latest technology in the workplace such as computers and laptops that are designed to save energy?
- If someone accused you of being ‘green’, could you prove it?!
Here’s a great example of one UK business who have successfully committed to cutting their energy output. UK retailer McColls is hoping to reduce its energy bill from 25% to 11%, by switching to LED lights which are 80% more energy efficient that other bulbs and last six times longer. This switch is reported to reduce the retailer’s carbon footprint by 1,000 tonnes every year.
This is one area where businesses can really stand to save and the changes don’t have to be too difficult to implement.
5. LOOK TO YOUR SUPPLIERS
When Centre Parks stopped advertising in the Daily Mail, it made headlines – with a number of companies following in their wake. The furore was around hate speech but even so, we’ve seen many companies race to distance themselves from bad business partners and poor decisions.
Let’s face it, nobody wants Greenpeace to come knocking on their door.
Point is, if your partner or supplier is walking a line that’s very different from your own set of values as an organisation, it’s hard to align your CSR strategy with that. Take time to review who you work with and look at their business approach.
For example, ask the following:
- Is your supplier the greenest business provider out there?
- Could you be working with a company that’s championed for greater ethical standards in, say, manufacturing?
- Does your company rely on a business who has a poor carbon footprint?
- Could you be sourcing products closer to home?
As Sodexo’s report states, “Every business has the opportunity to make a positive impact on the world. Irrelevant of life stage or net worth, it’s the culture, the social recognition, the day-to-day actions of the people within the business that differentiate an organisation.”
Who you do business with, is important.
Start today to make changes and you’ll soon see how it pays to be green. After all, our world depends upon it. None of us will be doing good business if we don’t.