It’s a key time for a lot of businesses right now to capitalize on being more eco-friendly and sustainable in how they do things. People are increasingly concerned about the effects of climate change, and working toward increased sustainability attracts not only customers but also potential talent as well.
Advantages of an eco-friendlier approach to business include reducing your costs, building your reputation for corporate responsibility, and perhaps even qualifying for government subsidies.
Building an eco-friendly company culture should be your starting point because it’s your corporate culture that sets the tone for everything else you do. The following are nine things you can do relatively easily to make your culture more sustainable and environmentally friendly:
1. Use Eco-Friendly Corporate Gifts
Giving gifts to your clients and employees is a good way to strengthen relationships, build loyalty and show appreciation. If you’re going to give gifts, why not further their value by making them eco-friendly?
This is one of the easiest things you can do that takes virtually no effort to put in place, and it simultaneously makes your culture greener but also improves it overall since you are showing your employees you care.
You can find gifts made from recyclable or renewable materials or go for options that reduce the need for disposable products, like tumblers or steel bottles. For instance, you can also collaborate with suppliers to buy Starbucks gift cards in bulk as an eco-friendly corporate gift. This way, you are providing a thoughtful gift for your clients and employees and supporting a brand that values sustainability.
If you are planning a conference, don’t forget to check our ideas for sustainable conference giveaways.
2. Be Willing to Learn and Educate
There’s a lot to learn when it comes to being more eco-friendly, so set the example and show that your dedication to adding this element to your culture starts at the top. Once you begin to learn, you should also start to educate your employees on what they should know about green initiatives in the workplace.
You’re not lecturing your employees, so keep it light. You want things to be enjoyable and fun for them.
One way to make learning more casual and less of a chore is to host a lunch where someone comes to speak on environmental issues. You could also make it a recurring series, where each speaker talks about something different.
3. Have a Green Team
You want to be strategic in how you implement more eco-friendly practices into your business, and you want to set organizational goals as part of that. In order to set and track goals, you’ll likely need a team in place.
Put together a green team that will help guide your initiatives and also drive your culture on a more sustainable path.
If you can have someone from higher management on the team, that’s a good idea because it’ll show that you’re really dedicated to what you’re saying.
When you achieve a milestone that’s set by the team or the company, make sure you recognize them for their efforts and hard work.
4. Let Employees Choose What Matters to Them
There are going to be certain elements of being more eco-friendly that resonate more than others with employees. The goal isn’t perfection, nor is it for everyone to have the same goals and priorities, so let your employees have some freedom with how they get into this component of your culture.
One way to do this is to allow employees time once a month or quarter to work on outside volunteer projects that are important to them. While you might suggest they have a green focus, let employees decide on what that’s going to mean for them.
5. Ask for Suggestions and Feedback
Along with letting employees make some of their own decisions as far as where they put their time and attention, you can also regularly ask for suggestions. Ask your employees once they’re empowered with education where they’d like to see your business go in terms of green initiatives.
You want your employees to feel as if they’re included in your company culture, and they need to be able to contribute and influence it in order to make it their own.
6. Build Momentum with Easy Steps
We’ve touched on this a bit in our tips above, but you want to choose those easy or “low-hanging fruit” initiatives first when you’re pushing for cultural change. Find those projects and things that are going to be the lowest effort to focus on when this is a new goal in your company because then, when goals are met, it’s going to build momentum for your employees to keep it up.
It’s also important to track your goals and everyone’s achievements, especially in a publicly visible way.
Some companies find gamification or friendly competition works well to help not only meet environmental goals but also to strengthen the culture in general.
7. Include Your Commitments in Your Handbook and Onboarding Materials
When you write down values and goals, they’re more likely to actually come to fruition in your culture.
Include your dedication to being greener in all of your employee materials, like your handbook and training materials. You can include it as part of your mission statement and make sure that when you bring new employees on board, they’re met with your philosophy of sustainability from the start.
When you emphasize that you are an eco-friendly company in your onboarding, training, and other employee documents, it shows you’re serious, and it also helps with consistency.
8. Make A Sustainable Office Environment
If your employees are working in the office some or all of the time, make sure it reflects sustainability and green practices.
For example, maybe you complete your digital transformation to become an entirely paperless and sustainable office.
You might also encourage your employees to recycle at work, and if you need any work done, such as commercial cleaning or construction, you can find companies that are green certified.
9. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Changes to Your Policies
Finally, if you begin your green initiatives and find that along the way, you need to make changes based on your progress, or the preferences of your employees, don’t be afraid to do so. Building a corporate culture is never complete. It’s something you’re always working on, which tends to be true of developing a more sustainable organization as well.