According to a recent Neilson report, Millenials (age 20-40) and Gen Z (aged 15-20) stating they are willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact. Almost three-out-of-four respondents in the latest findings, up from approximately half in 2014.
“Brands that establish a reputation for environmental stewardship among today’s youngest consumers have an opportunity to not only grow market share but build loyalty among the power-spending Millennials of tomorrow, too,” says Grace Farraj, SVP, Public Development & Sustainability, Nielsen.
Environmental issues is a top concern for Millenials and Gen Z but also Baby Boomers. Sustainability is important, we all know that, but why should HR managers be concerned with promoting environmentalism within their companies? HR leaders are strategic partners that help business leaders make good decisions. Sustainability is great for employer branding, it can attract customers, and from an HR perspective, it can attract top talent to your organization. For millenials in particular, it is important to them to work at places that they feel are doing good for the world. A company that is taking strides to minimize their impact on the planet is an attractive feature for many prospective candidates. The cherry on top is that there are many sustainable solutions that can also bring cost savings to your company. Keep scrolling to learn more.
Reducing Transportation Emissions
One of the largest contributions to emissions globally is transportation. Therefore, it makes sense to focus your efforts to reduce employee emissions associated with traveling to work. This can be done through incentivizing employees to choose more environmentally friendly ways to get to work and to leave their cars at home.
- Active Transportation: Implement financial incentives for employees to engage in active transportation to get to work. For example, pay employees a per kilometer mileage rate for the distance that they walk or bike to work.
- Public Transportation: Provide employees with free or subsidized public transit passes.
- Carpooling: Reserve premium parking spots for employees who drive to work together.
- Work From Home: Use a workspace model where employees are encouraged to work from home, and office desk space is available on a first come first serve basis. This is a solution that is associated with significant cost savings through decreased costs in renting office space and decreased utility costs.
- Travel Policies: Encourage video calls rather than in person meetings where possible (more cost savings!).
Environmentally Friendly Human Resources Practices
There are many ways that HR can make changes to how they do business in order to reduce their carbon footprint:
- Do in house training or online learning where possible rather than sending employees to travel off site for courses.
- When you onboard new hires make sure that your swag encourages sustainability such as giving them reusable travel mugs or products that are made from biodegradable materials.
- Provide pay stubs online rather than a hardcopy.
- Put all of your policies and employee handbooks on the intranet or shared drive so that you can point new employees to the electronic version rather than printing it off.
Going Green at Lunch
We know that the lunch room is not the official jurisdiction of HR, but we also know that all the lunch room problems and conflicts will eventually land on the desk of the HR manager. Own the lunch room jurisdiction and take initiative to make lunch a little more environmentally friendly by using some of the following ideas:
- Buy reusable plates and cutlery for people to use in the lunchroom. If that is not realistic for your workplace (we have seen those sinks full of dirty coffee mugs), then purchase biodegradable single use plates/cutlery/coffee cups.
- Have a coffee machine and kettle with coffee mugs so that employees can make their own hot beverage of choice. Store sugar in a canister and milk and cream in pitcher to reduce single use waste.
- Set up a compost bin. Coordinate with your janitorial staff to ensure that the contents are actually composted and not combined with the rest of the office waste.
Designing a Green Office
If you are setting up a new office space or renovating, there are many energy saving opportunities that you can implement:
- Optimize the natural light in the office and minimize walls where possible to allow light to fill the space and minimize the amount of artificial lighting that your space requires. This will reduce your electricity consumption.
- Use sensors to turn off lights when a space is not in use.
- Adjust your thermostat, especially in the summer when offices feel like the arctic. If the thermostat is set just one degree warmer it can significantly reduce the amount of energy required to cool the building (more cost savings for you too!)
- Set the default on printers to print double sided to reduce paper waste.
- Make sure that all new technology that is purchased is energy efficient.
Personal Practices for Sustainability at Work
Maybe you can’t get your business leaders on board with making large changes in the name of sustainability, but there are small changes that you can make to get started:
- Get your name off of mailing lists. We all know those magazines that automatically go straight into the recycling, stop the waste by getting out of the cycle.
- Fill your space with indoor plants such as spider plants or snake plants that purify the air.
- Choose standard shipping instead of express, these routes are more efficient
Business Practices for Sustainability
Once you are committed to going all in on sustainability you will need to analyze all of your business practices to see where the most change needs to be made to reduce your impact on the environment.
- Partner with suppliers that have the same commitment to sustainability as you do.
- Analyze your supply chain. Identify areas where you can reduce the impact on the environment. For example, are there suppliers closer to your office that you can work with to reduce the distance that products travel to get to your facility?
Buy Carbon Offsets
The reality is that your company will generate some emissions in order to operate. If you would like to become a net zero company, consider buying offsets for the emissions that you do produce. Offsets come from projects that are actively eliminating greenhouse gas emissions through alternative clean energy sources (i.e. wind turbines, solar power, waste to energy facilities, organic waste diversion) or by removing emissions from the environment. These credits from offsetting emissions can then be sold to organizations to meet their internal targets. Contact a carbon broker if you are interested in learning more.
Are you ready to go green? Essential HR can help design customized sustainability solutions that work for your business.