There are a multitude of ways that your company can be sustainable. One way that often gets overlooked is enabling employees to be more sustainable – both at work and as an individual. Workplace policies can be introduced and displayed to encourage sustainable practices, as well as help reach your company’s sustainability goals. Non-traditional benefit packages and office perks can be a creative way to compensate employees by enabling them to participate in sustainable activities they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. Policies and benefits can work separately and in tandem to provide green resources. Find out more about both below.
Workplace Policies and Processes
It’s the company’s responsibility to make it easy for employees to contribute to the sustainability goals. The more clearly their job responsibilities can be connected to aspects of the goals, the easier it will be for them to understand and contribute. That’s why I recommend implementing policies and updating processes across the company to enable employees to be a part of the sustainability goals. The policies should clearly establish what behaviors and actions are desired, and the processes should formalize those behaviors. The more clear the expectations are, the easier it will be for employees to fulfill those expectations.
Implementing policies will likely include updating existing processes. For example, let’s say one of the sustainability goals is to decrease the amount of paper waste your company creates by 20% over the next 3 years. A policy that comes out of this goal could be to print only when absolutely necessary, and to use digital options as often as possible. To comply with this policy, processes across the company need to be updated. This includes: the use of e-signature software for contracts; opting for online payments and paperless billing to suppliers; and training new employees to take digital notes.
In order for your employees to be truly enabled, they have to know about the policy and process changes. Posting physical copies of new policies and changes in the process helps to remind people. It is especially helpful in the beginning when people are not yet used to the changes. Let’s continue with the example above – that your company is trying to reduce its’ paper waste. It would be great to have signs with the new policies and process steps near the printers, recycling bins, and any other place paper is often used.
Sustainable Benefits and Office Perks
As companies look to attract new talent, it is becoming more common to find companies who pay for things like gym memberships and wellness plans for their employees. I think a unique benefit that would set a company apart would be to offer sustainability benefits. Consider providing employees with TerraCycle recycling sets so they can recycle home items that are generally not accepted by curbside recycling systems. Or offer reimbursement for employees who pay for composting services. If your company gives a welcome gift to new employees, opt for something eco-friendly. My favorite examples are reusable water bottles, coffee tumblers, and cloth bags. These items can still be branded with the company logo, but will enable sustainable activity both inside and outside of work.
If the budget is not yet at a place to offer benefits like that to the whole team individually, consider what can be done at just the main location. Offer amenities like water bottle refill stations, recycling, and composting services. Consider TerraCycle Zero Waste Box™
for the office to share. Make sustainable improvements to the office space and share that knowledge with employees. This could include using natural cleaners, or choosing energy efficient appliances and lighting. Making the office space more sustainable enables your team to take part in sustainable activities that they otherwise wouldn’t participate in. This not only helps them be more sustainable, but it educates them and hopefully encourages them to be sustainable outside of work.
Both policies and benefits can be used to enable sustainable behavior, but policies can be implemented for free. I would recommend starting with policies to drive your sustainability goals, and then adding benefits as your budget allows. Before creating policies, check out our blog on picking impactful main topics and how to utilize a value chain analysis for brainstorming.