7 steps to a more environmentally friendly workplace

Going green is not only good for your employees’ wellbeing, it can trim operating costs also improve the overall efficiency of your business.

HR departments have an important role to play in the development of sustainability strategies.

Here are seven ways to  up your Green Human Resource Management (GHRM) game.

1. Green hiring

  •  Recruit environmentally empathetic employees: Look for ‘green positive’ attributes, such as conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness and empathy.
  •  Test candidates for their green awareness, knowledge, and in-job/community experience.
  • Make the environment a part of your brand: organisations with strong environmental values and goals, and a reputation for following through on green initiatives, will attract like-minded jobseekers.

Green hiring includes environmentally conscious employees.

2. Green training 

Sustainability training teaches employees about environmentally friendly work practices and draws their attention to important green objectives.

  • Train employees on job-specific sustainability issues, such as waste management, sustainable procurement and proper use of IT equipment.
  • Promote green habits. For example, place posters in kitchens/bathrooms highlighting the benefits of water conservation.
  • Include tips and information about energy conservation and recycling in your internal newsletters.
  • Encourage staff to come up with activities and events that promote good environmental practices.

Green training involves teaching sustainability practices.

3. Green commuting 

Encourage employees to cycle, walk and take public transport to work. The benefits include:

  • Reducing carbon emissions and congestion during peak-hour commute. Cars account for roughly 50% of all transport emissions in Australia.
  • Bike/pedestrian travel offers the health benefits of regular physical activity, reducing absenteeism and healthcare costs.
  • Cutting costs associated with providing car bays for employees’ vehicles.

Office man using his bicycle to commute to work.

4. Reduce energy usage 

The key to sustainability is managing office waste, and water and energy usage. Doing this can also boost your corporate image.

  • Put stickers near computers reminding people to switch them off when not in use. BONUS! This also prolongs the lifespan of your equipment.
  • Reduce your business-travel carbon footprint (and travel expenses) by using remote collaboration tools, such as video conferencing.
  • Buy/lease office equipment with energy-efficient features.

Reduce Energy Footprint Switch Off

5. Waste-management tips

  • Place recycling bins around the office.
  • Use eco-friendly stationery, toiletries and detergents.
  • Keep documents digital and paperless wherever possible.
  • Donate old IT equipment.

Workplace Recycling By Employees

6. Green performance and measurement 

Turn your organisation’s environmental goals into action by including green performance metrics as part of the employee-evaluation process.

  • Set quarterly green targets for employees on their use of electricity, paper and water, for example.
  • Encourage employees to track their personal carbon footprint using an online tool like the Carbon Calculator.
  • Have a quarterly recognition program for employees who champion sustainability.

Devising Effective Workplace Environmental Strategy

7. Green compensation and incentives 

HR can implement a system of financial and non-financial rewards aimed at attracting, retaining and motivating employees.

  • Create monthly green challenges, such as no plastic utensils or disposable lunch packaging.
  • Provide showers and lockers for employees who cycle to work.
  • Offer salary sacrifice to cover public transport costs.
  • Reward environmentally conscious staff with items such as gift cards or staff lunches.

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