Workplace sustainability is a delicate balance of caring for the environment and implementing eco-friendly practices in the office. A sustainable work environment makes a long workday less stressful and more enjoyable for workers. Companies have crucial roles to play in this regard. This is not because they are the major contributors to global warming or environmental pollution, but they have the capabilities in the form of incentives and opportunities to design innovative ideas in reversing what damages our ecosystem. This could be in the form of investing renewable energy sources and the implementation of sustainable initiatives in the work environment.
According to a study done by Lightspeed Research, 90% of millennials consider sustainable programmes when choosing their future employer.
Key findings include:
- Sustainability is important to this generation and is a core value they consider in relation to their career. Nine in 10 Millennials (age 18-34) say it is important they work for a sustainable company, compared to 84 per cent of Gen Xers (age 35-49) and 77 per cent of Baby Boomers (age 50-64).
- Millennials are empowered to inspire change in their work environment. Eighty-two per cent of Millennials look for opportunities to help their company become more sustainable and 67 per cent feel they have enough influence in their workplace to make an impact on matters such as sustainability.
- They want to do more and believe recycling should be an obligation for their employer. Over 80 per cent of Millennials whose employer does not have a recycling system in place believe employers have a responsibility to encourage recycling in the workplace. Seventy-seven per cent of Millennials say they recycle at work, but 83 per cent say they recycle at home, suggesting recycling at work is more challenging. If their office provided more recycling points, 62 per cent of Millennials say they would recycle more in the workplace, compared to 55 per cent of Gen Xers and 58 per cent of Baby Boomers.
Why should you have a sustainable workplace?
By involving employees in eco-friendly practices at work, can boost morale and retain staff. The finance team will be happy too because ‘green building’ has a positive impact on the company’s bottom line. Minimize waste,
Reducing, reusing and recycling can benefit occupational health and safety in the business too. This measure improves working conditions that people support and can enhance brand reputation.
How to start workplace sustainability?
There are a number of associations or businesses that can guide you on the right approach with internationally recognised standards.
The Green Building Council of South Africa and Solid Green Consulting are a good place to start.
Employees can create ideas towards greening practices because they are more familiar with business operations. Select champions to promote sustainable initiatives.
Start a recycling programme:
- Put bins in lunchrooms, copiers and printers
- Use both sides of the paper
- Purchase recycled products
- Donate unwanted stationery to schools, daycare facilities or hospitals
- Provide reusable items at the office instead of disposable
- Put the computer on sleep mode, the screen saver still uses electricity
- Use energy-efficient light bulbs
- Upgrade building management systems, such as motion detector light switches
- Clean commuting to the office (cycling, carpool, public transport)
- Go paperless, encourage more cloud-based collaboration and storage of files
Investment in creating a sustainable work environment should be classified as one that will profit your organization more in the long term. This could be in the form of abundant natural resources and enhanced employee productivity. The successful companies are forward-thinking, and the future businesses will be those that prioritize workplace sustainability.
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