15 Ways to Make Your Workplace Culture More Eco-Friendly
Bringing eco-friendly initiatives to the workplace can inspire your team and promote a larger sense of purpose.
Does your organization prioritize the health and well-being of the workplace? The likely answer is yes.
But, as topics such as sustainability, climate change, and corporate social responsibility become more widely discussed, business leaders have started to revisit this question from a new perspective—recognizing the importance of integrating these topics into their practices to improve their environmental initiatives, workplace culture, and the overall health of the business and its employees.
In an era where both young professionals and experienced employees are looking for more meaning in their work, creating an eco-friendly office culture deserves extra attention.
Even if you already have a robust corporate environmental program, getting your employees on board with your green workplace initiatives can make a huge difference in your program’s success.
And creating a healthier workplace doesn’t require as much change to business practices as one might think. According to the World Health Organization definition, a healthy workplace is one in which workers and managers collaborate to use a continual improvement process to protect and promote the health, safety, and well-being of all workers and the sustainability of the workplace. And, the benefits that organizations experience by investing in eco-friendly practices are difficult to ignore.
As of 2017, companies that focused on green innovation experienced an annual growth rate of 15 percent—making this commitment toward iterative sustainability and small changes to workplace health even more worth it.
1. Make recycling easy
If you don’t already have one, an office recycling program is a great place to kickstart your environmental efforts. Add recycling bins to shared office spaces such as kitchens and other common areas, and post recycling reminders near the bins listing the types of items that employees can recycle.
Already recycling? Check to make sure that employees know about the recycling program. It can be helpful to send the occasional refresher email to keep your recycling policies in the forefront of your team’s mind.
2. Make sustainability fun
A little competition can make just about anything fun – including your sustainability efforts. Using an employee engagement tool like Cooleaf, employees can compete with their peers and earn rewards for practicing environmental stewardship.
In honor of Earth Day, Cooleaf helped our customers facilitate a “Go Green Challenge,” where employees were asked to complete one earth-friendly activity each day of the week (watch an environmental TED talk, go for a nature walk, etc.). As a result, employees created 50 meatless meals, cleaned up 16 bags of trash, and supported 11 local restaurants or farmers’ markets.
3. Conserve energy within the office
Turning off the lights and switching off electronic equipment around the office during off-hours will help to conserve energy resources as well as save your company a significant amount on your electric bill. Ensure that your workplace has communicated your policy around reducing energy consumption at their desks and around the office and provide suggestions such as shutting off their computers at the end of the work day and keeping the lights off when a meeting room is not in use.
4. Promote a paperless office
Digital and cloud computing solutions have enabled companies to become more collaborative, streamlined, efficient, and yes, green too. From using desktop applications such as Microsoft Office and Google Drive for coordinating work projects to investing in digital HR and payroll software to handle workforce management, paper and ink are swapped out for an eco-conservative alternative.
5. Set up a ‘Lunch and Learn’
Educate and engage staff in contributing to your organization’s sustainability goals by hosting a lunch and learn about environmental issues. Or, host a company-wide movie night to watch an environmental documentary.
6. Create a green team
To raise employee awareness of your organization’s sustainability goals, form a green team. Together you can brainstorm creative ways to tackle environmental concerns. If possible, try to have a senior management representative on the green team, and encourage staff from all levels to join.
When your green team accomplishes a goal, be sure to publicly recognize your Green Team for their success! Use an employee recognition tool to thank your Green Team for a job well done.
7. Invest in office plants
Placing plants around the office can help to beautify your workspaces, uplift the overall atmosphere of your workplace, and reduce stress and anxiety for your workforce. Indoor greenery can boost oxygen levels and remove harmful pollutants such as carbon dioxide and formaldehyde. In fact, NASA research reveals that indoor plants reduce 87% of indoor air pollutants within 24 hours.
8. Promote reusable or recyclable dishware
When possible, provide reusable mugs, cups, plates, bowls, and cutlery in your office kitchen. If you don’t have the ability to store dishware in the office kitchen, look into compostable (or recyclable) dishware and cutlery.
You can also encourage your employees to bring their own dishware and travel mugs from home. Plus, travel mugs with your company logo make for a great employee welcome gift!
9. Install motion-activated light switches
Improve energy efficiency by installing or swapping in motion-activated light switches. These are a particularly great solution for conference rooms since they are often separated from the central office space and are less frequently used.
Rather than relying on employees to switch off the lights as they leave or enter a room, motion-activated lights are human-proof: they save energy automatically.
10. Donate or recycle old electronics
Earth Day is the perfect occasion to do some spring cleaning, sustainability style!
Remove unnecessary clutter from your office by recycling or donating old electronics. Most electronics are made from valuable resources and materials — such as plastic, glass, and metals — that require a significant amount of energy to mine, process, and manufacture. Do your part to conserve natural resources and reduce air/water pollution by recycling that old keyboard that’s been in your desk drawer for 2 years.
11. Encourage employees to carpool, bike, or walk to work
Walking or biking to work has all kinds of benefits – it’s healthy, financially sound, reduces your carbon footprint, and is eco-friendly! Motivate your employees to swap singular car trips for carpooling (or public transport), biking, or walking by offering incentives like monthly cash bonuses or prizes as part of your wellness program.
12. Get outside and volunteer
Cause-driven volunteer programs are an excellent way to support something meaningful and have a big impact on your communities. There are all sorts of green causes and conservation campaigns your company can participate in. Find a philanthropic project that’s close to your organization’s heart and get your people involved.
13. Include green thinking as a key part of your company culture
Include your employees in your environmental vision by getting them engaged and involved. Talk to and collaborate with your team members to gather their ideas for how your organization can implement environmentally conscious initiatives in the workplace as a part of your core values. Getting input from your employees will allow them the opportunity to embody and embrace your new mission and goals.
14. Embrace renewable energy
Green power sources, including solar and wind energy, are more accessible than ever, with options including rooftop solar installations and large-scale wind farms. Organizations of any size can make this switch to more sustainable practices.
If your organization is located in a deregulated electricity state, one easy way to make your office greener is to shop for your electricity supplier and choose a green energy plan. Almost every electricity supplier offers green energy plans that are generated by renewable energy sources, primarily wind and solar. These green electricity plans are priced very competitively compared to traditional electricity plans powered by coal or natural gas, she added.
15. Support eco-conscious businesses in your local community
It’s always a good idea to support local businesses, especially those with an eco-conscious and environmental sustainability focus. Review the products your office purchases regularly, and check to see if they are locally sourced. Do you provide office snacks for your employees? Switch to an eco-friendly brand, or offer fruits and veggies from a local farmer’s market. If you regularly cater lunches, focus on supporting restaurants that source locally-grown ingredients.
Advantages of a sustainable workplace
Businesses can’t afford to ignore the importance of a sustainable business environment. Research shows that social responsibility offers many benefits for companies, including cost savings, improved customer loyalty, a boost in employee morale, and general waste reduction.
Here’s how the impact breaks down:
Many business owners believe that prioritization of sustainability translates to increased operational costs, but that’s simply not the case! Adopting eco-friendly business practices can, in actuality, reduce business expenses and help increase profits. Businesses can also achieve cost savings by optimizing building operations, improving efficiencies, and reducing energy consumption. One example of this is recycling, which can help divert materials from your trash and help reduce overall waste bills. Using less energy, water, and waste equals less money going towards recurring bills.
Eco-friendly behavior often elevates a company’s reputation and status internally—leading to happier employees. Many workers today prefer to work for, and enjoy, being associated with environmentally responsible companies. What’s more, sustainable business can attract and retain top talent. Research conducted by Cone Communications found that 64 percent of Millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work.
When employees see business leaders making an effort to educate themselves on sustainability and reduce their impact, many become inspired to follow suit. As a result, people are more likely to evaluate their consumption habits, recycle when possible, and reuse items to reduce waste when those around them are doing the same.
These actions benefit businesses by decreasing the amount of material that ends up in landfills, thereby reducing waste costs and improving overall sustainability while decreasing environmental impact.
Interested in learning more about how to "green" your workplace? Cooleaf can help — let's chat!
Organizations have been looking for innovative ways to create an eco-friendly workplace in line with their business activities.
Many are doing everything they can to include eco-friendly practices in the workplace, manufacturing, and services, as environmentally friendly office improvements have become an integral aspect of corporate accountability. Not only that, but these measures are now a decisive factor in determining whether or not an organization will be competitive in the future.
When it comes to creating a positive impact on our planet, small changes can make a huge difference. Additionally, social responsibility can have a favorable impact on employees' mindsets, well-being, and productivity. By integrating some of these ideas into your office, you can create a green workplace culture that will inspire your whole team.