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The post-pandemic period has seen a lot of change for businesses across the country, a prominent example being the phenomenon dubbed ‘The Great Resignation’. There's no doubt that large numbers of professionals have re-evaluated their careers and their expectations of their employers.

To keep their best performers, it’s clear that companies need to focus on appealing to candidates – both their career aspirations and their values. Employees are becoming increasingly aware of the impact that their actions have on the environment and are turning to value-driven companies that are prioritising environmental sustainability.

With that in mind, it’s up to HR teams and professionals to develop sustainable workplace solutions and train their teams on eco-friendly practices to attract and retain top talent. It’s also important to know how to communicate corporate sustainability initiatives to the wider business and key stakeholders.

Here’s our breakdown on what sustainability in the workplace really means, why it’s important, and how you can improve your current strategy.

What is sustainability?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines sustainability as:

“The property of being environmentally sustainable; the degree to which a process or enterprise is able to be maintained or continued while avoiding the long-term depletion of natural resources”.

But what does sustainability mean in the context of the workplace?

Workplace sustainability essentially means the environmental impact a business has, and how an organisation is adapting its practices, processes, and systems to be more eco-friendly.

Why is sustainability in the workplace important?

Sustainability is becoming more and more important for the newest generation of UK workers. In fact, in our most recent talent survey, we discovered that:

  • 1/5 of active job seekers would be put off if the company’s political views didn’t align with their own
  • 13% would be put off from proceeding with an application if the company didn’t make its commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) clear
  • 1/5 said that if they were job hunting, it would be important for the company’s values to match their own
  • 1 in 10 said they could be persuaded to move by the opportunity to work for a company with a social purpose

Making sure your workplace is more sustainable will therefore not only help you attract the very best talent. A healthy and sustainable workplace can also directly lead to happier employees, which in turn increases employee productivity. To find out more about what employees want from their current employer, download our most recent Talent Trends eBook and learn all the bests ways to persuade star candidates to join your business by establishing a stand out employer value proposition, or EVP.


How to improve environmental sustainability in the workplace

There are several key things companies can do to improve their environmental sustainability. Here are a few of our top tips:

1. Encourage employees to change their commuting habits

According to a recent study from CBI, the annual economic costs of commuting carbon emissions total £2.7 billion in England alone. Encouraging staff members to take public transport rather than driving could make a huge difference to your company’s sustainability ranking. One way to do this is by offering your employees a season ticket loan scheme, which is an interest-free loan for employees that covers the cost of travelling to and from the workplace.

2. Change to more eco-friendly office lighting

If you’re looking for a small but quick solution, then switching your office to LED lighting is a great option. Not only do LED lightbulbs use 75% less energy, but they also last 25 times longer than standard lightbulbs. It’s good for the planet, and your office budgets too.

3. Promote a paperless office

Digital and cloud-based computing solutions have enabled companies to become more collaborative, streamlined and efficient, especially during remote working periods - but they’ve also helped businesses become greener.

By switching to applications such as Microsoft Office and Google Drive for collaboration projects, or investing in digital HR and payroll software, you can reduce your workplace’s paper and ink usage, which will significantly lower your carbon footprint.

4. Invest in office plants

Placing plants around the office doesn’t just help improve the aesthetic of your workplace – it can also uplift the overall atmosphere, and reduce stress and anxiety for your workers. Indoor greenery helps boost oxygen levels, and also removes harmful pollutants, such as carbon dioxide and formaldehyde from the air. In fact, NASA research reveals that indoor plants reduce indoor air pollutants by 87% within 24 hours.

How to promote sustainability in the workplace

To properly promote sustainability in a workplace and engage an entire organisation to get onboard with new policies, you need to make ‘green thinking’ a key part of your company culture. Make sure you include your employees in your environmental vision by getting them engaged and involved from the offset. Getting input from your people is also key to success and will allow them to fully engage in your new sustainable mission and goals.

When asked for her advice on the matter in a recent interview at the Sustainability Symposium, Natasha Mosscrop, Senior Sustainability Manager at Kerry responded,

“From my perspective, there are three key success factors for businesses who are starting on this journey. The first is authenticity, showing that you genuinely care and are determined to make a difference. The second is to make sure you don’t get lost in the details – get started and get people onboard. The third would be relatability, which comes down to making sure people can see where they and their job fit into this.”

Encouraging sustainable and environmentally conscious practices in the workplace will help your workforce feel healthier, keep your employees more satisfied, and create an environment that allows your people to thrive at work.

If you need top talent to drive ESG initiatives like this forward, get in touch with Michael Page Human Resources today to unlock the best candidates on the market.

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