Our actions over the coming years could help mitigate the irreversible effects of climate change. There are changes we need to make individually, but businesses too have a responsibility in both implementing green policies and encouraging sustainable behavior among employees. The fact that, in 2017, only 100 companies worldwide were responsible for more than 70% of worldwide greenhouse emissions since 1988 should give all businesses and workers pause for thought.
While any effort to make a business more eco-friendly should be encouraged, in order to ensure effectiveness the approach needs to be holistic. Sustainability policies must touch every area of the business. It’s also important to understand that employees today are placing a higher premium on companies that embrace sound political and ecological principles.
So what steps can businesses take in order to implement an eco-friendly culture? We’ll take a look at a few key areas of focus when asserting environmentally sound ideals throughout all levels of company life.
Hiring and Onboarding
It is important to ensure that employees are both informed and engaged with sustainable philosophies from their first point of contact with the business. The hiring and onboarding processes can be useful tools to make certain new staff start off on the right foot.
Interviews play a key role in ascertaining whether candidates are a good fit for company culture. This can be an ideal time to broach the subject of sustainability, to gauge their current personal efforts and discuss their stances on the matter. By starting sustainability communication at this early stage, businesses can set a precedent for a culture that mitigates the potential for employees’ lack of engagement in the future.
The onboarding process sets crucial expectations for what is expected of employees. The employee handbook can be a valuable tool in this regard, clearly outlining where sustainability policies fit alongside health and safety standards, the code of conduct, and even disciplinary actions. Emphasizing eco-friendly company culture in these key documents, and in aspects of training help to fortify the idea that these aren’t just lip-service, they’re vital.
Consistency and Transparency
A commitment should be made to ensure that policies regarding eco-friendly activities are applied consistently throughout every aspect of company life. From the approach to waste management to collaborations with other businesses, consideration must be given to the eco-centric principles upon which the company has chosen to plant its flag.
Ensuring the principles are applied consistently throughout the company is not always easy, particularly as it may affect profitability. However, many major corporations are employing the approach of conscious capitalism; a philosophy that accepts the goal of pursuing profit, while taking into account the human effect of business activities, and the challenges of the world we live in. This encourages companies to integrate a framework of principles into their overall structure, in such a way that allows business goals to be achieved without sacrificing sustainable practices.
It’s also imperative for businesses to engender transparency. Managers and staff must be honest with each other about what is and is not working, and work to create effective solutions. By keeping the dialogue open, we can encourage a culture of openness that helps reinforce a trusting relationship. This is important for cultivating employee fulfillment as much as sustainability efforts. Inclusion bolsters everyone’s connection to the company and helps ensure everybody works together to achieve both business and environmental goals.
The Office Environment
It’s vital for businesses to make certain that eco-friendly principles aren’t simply philosophical, but also have a physical presence in the business environment. The theoretical elements of sustainability should be supported by effective tools and workspaces that allow employees to engage with these ideas.
This can begin with the environment in which they work every day. Invest in office furniture and decoration that has been manufactured using sustainable materials and ethical means. As noted by the resource, 50% of pollution stems from industries and manufacturing, therefore undertake research to ascertain whether the producers of equipment used in your office space employ green methods. Where possible, upcycle old furniture and hire contractors who are green certified.
Get employees involved by gathering staff across all departments to audit the office environment, and make a plan for areas of ecological improvement. Diversity in this area is essential, allowing for multiple viewpoints and greater potential for meaningful change to both global and local environments. By making the sustainability of the office a robust, ongoing project, businesses can keep it an integral part of company culture.
Businesses are starting to make changes that place greater emphasis on sustainability, but in order for this to be a lasting, meaningful improvement it must play a key role in company culture. By introducing the philosophy at the earliest stages of employment, adopting a consistent and transparent approach, and integrating theoretical ideas with the physical environment, companies have the opportunity to not just talk about eco-friendliness, but build it into the bones of their business.