Every year the battle cry for sustainability in the workplace becomes louder and more urgent. Evidence shows that our planet has been getting hotter. Sustainable practices are vital for addressing the current climate crisis and ensuring a healthy and livable planet for current and future generations.
As another Earth Day approaches and human activities continue to significantly alter the Earth’s ecosystems and natural resources, smart leaders can help deliver a positive impact for the greater good. The warmest 20 years on record have been in the last 22 years, according to the World Meteorological Organization, and the warmest four were from 2015 to 2020.
Planet and people-positive companies promote environmental and social sustainability in the workplace as a critical part of their mission, vision, and values.
Our collective efforts, empathy, and passionate compassion can innovate the charge and pave the way toward human-centric solutions. Let’s explore how you can inspire your employees to really make a difference.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is sustainability in the workplace?
- Benefits of sustainability in the workplace
- How to promote sustainability in the workplace
- Employee engagement: every action makes a difference
- Support sustainable practices with an LSA
What is sustainability in the workplace?
Sustainability in the workplace is the practice of operating an organization in a socially responsible and environmentally ethical manner. Sustainability practices embody a company’s deeply rooted commitment to improving environmental and social outcomes through direct action. Companies that value sustainability make a positive impact for the greater good.
Environmentally ethical initiatives center on corporate climate policies, energy efficiency, waste reduction, and natural resource conservation. Socially focused initiatives include diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), philanthropy, social justice, anti-racism policies, and transparent corporate ethics.
The knowledge that everything we need for our well-being depends on the natural environment fuels the understanding we must do anything in our power to protect human and environmental resources.
Benefits of sustainability in the workplace
Becoming a leader in ethical and sustainable business practices boosts cost and energy efficiency, improves employee and customer engagement, enhances compliance, and bolsters corporate risk resilience. The ultimate value of sustainability efforts in the workplace measures whether they encourage real change for the common good.
The benefits of sustainability guide corporate behavior and decision-making and provide a framework for measuring success over time. Communicate a clear and consistent message about your sustainability efforts and the resulting benefits. And your employees, customers, and investors will be confident in their choice to engage with your business.
Boost cost and energy efficiency
Sustainable practices lead to significant cost savings by prioritizing efficiency, conserving resources, and reducing waste. Companies that value a positive impact on the environment will improve their bottom line and gain a long-term advantage over their less sustainable competitors.
Improve employee engagement
Employees, consumers, and investors actively seek out socially and environmentally responsible companies aligned with their personal values. Your commitment to making a positive impact cultivates a sense of loyalty and trust, giving you a competitive edge.
Stricter regulations and requirements drive change related to environmental and social issues. Companies that adopt sustainable practices in compliance with these regulations are financially healthier and more successful in the long term than their less planet-friendly global competitors.
Bolster risk resilience
Sustainability practices help companies steer clear of risks associated with less environmentally conscious or socially responsible business practices through diversification, local sourcing, and corporate transparency. They can also spur innovation and help companies creatively meet future challenges.
How to promote sustainability in the workplace
Promoting sustainability in the workplace transforms your company’s great intentions into an action plan that really makes a difference. A collective effort driven by empathy and passionate compassion can pave the way toward people-powered solutions.
Companies thrive when they proactively and transparently hold themselves accountable and adopt sustainable business practices. And they help their people, the planet, and their profits. Contributing to a more sustainable future attracts customers, investors, and talent who value corporate ethics and responsibility.
Commit to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions
If you only do one thing to make your workplace more sustainable, commit to net-zero green gas emissions. A step on this path to powerful positive impact and saving energy is first pursuing CarbonNeutral® certification.
Invest in carbon credits
As companies make strides toward carbon neutral and ultimately net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, carbon credit programs can be an interim solution. Projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote renewable energy are also worthy of corporate sponsorship.
Obtain sustainable certifications
These certifications, like B Corp Certification and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) certifications, set standards for your company’s responsible and ethical behavior. These certifications, obtained by your employees, teams, or your organization, measure individual and collective commitments to sustainability and distinguish companies from their less sustainably-minded peers.
Encourage flexible and remote work
Reduce commuting, conserve energy, and minimize emissions while saving your people time and money by encouraging work from home whenever possible. When they do need to come into the office, incentivize employees to take public transportation, carpool, or bike to further minimize environmental impact, and offer an LSA commuter reimbursement program.
CFL and LED lighting, dimmers, motion sensors, and occupancy sensors all reduce energy consumption. Task lighting, instead of brightly lighting an entire room, focuses the light where people need it. It also can help to create a more comfortable work environment for neurodiverse talent.
Promote Employee Resource Groups
Peer-to-peer influencing can change behaviors and harness the power of small but mighty actions by your people. Your leadership, in partnership with a Green Team ERG, can educate, create awareness, and offer behavioral incentives to encourage conservation practices like turning off unnecessary lights and electronics and reducing waste.
Invest in energy-efficient products and technologies
Reduce energy consumption by replacing outdated equipment and appliances and properly installing energy-efficient and water-efficient products like programmable thermostats, low standby power products, low-flow toilets, and faucets. These investments reduce energy and water consumption and fund themselves in the long run.
Install energy-efficient HVAC
Efficient heating and air conditioning systems, like heat pumps, lower energy usage. Many states offer incentives, resources, and rebates for energy-efficient upgrades. Your building or offices may not be designed for energy efficiency. But it can still reap the benefits of a little human effort, like adjusting window covers to reduce or maximize sunlight to naturally heat or cool your workspaces.
Sourcing food and products locally supports your community and reduces shipping costs. You may be pleasantly surprised at the amazing things being produced in your local area, and local sourcing also insulates your organization from supply chain issues.
When local isn’t possible, utilize reusable, waste-conscious, and renewable products to reduce food waste and your environmental footprint. Bolstering demand for these products promotes sustainable development.
Encourage people-powered action
Corporate DEI initiatives promote an equitable society and bring different perspectives and ideas to the table. Employee volunteering can help address social and environmental issues, such as climate change, poverty, and inequality, and create a more sustainable future.
Employee engagement: every action makes a difference
Engaged employees are more likely to feel connected to their company’s sustainability practices. And employees immersed in a company culture that prioritizes sustainability are inspired to incorporate environmentally and socially responsible actions into their personal lives.
With a higher population of millennials and Gen-Z in the workforce, smart companies need to prioritize their planet-first values in order to attract up-and-coming top talent. These generations seek out companies that prioritize sustainability, and they will be loyal to a company in alignment with these values.
Corporate sustainability initiatives teach employees about the importance of stewardship and the impact of individual action. If a company encourages its people to conserve resources, be more energy efficient, and reduce waste, employees are likely to do the same at home. The power of socially responsible behavior is amplified and exponentially increased when smart companies set a high bar for sustainability.
Support sustainable practices with an LSA
Companies should recognize and reward employees who demonstrate sustainable behavior. This can be done through recognition programs or incentives, such as bonuses or extra time off. And a reimbursement program through your company’s Lifestyle Spending Account (LSA) can incentivize any sustainable practice you want to promote.
LSAs allow freedom of choice to support your company’s values and efforts. Celebrate your environmentally and socially responsible practices by creating a Sustainability Reimbursement Program through your LSA with Espresa. Customize your planet-first initiatives by allowing your people to submit an LSA reimbursement for an eco-friendly charity. Your people and planet-positive practices align with your corporate mission, vision, and values.
Reach out to our team for a demo to see how you can customize and support your sustainable offerings with non-traditional benefits people love!