How to empower your employees to be more sustainable
There aren’t many positive stories to emerge from the current global pandemic crisis but perhaps one was the beneficial impact that ‘lockdown’ had on areas of the environment.
According to the Reducing UK emissions: 2020 Progress Report to Parliament, the emissions for this year are expected to fall a record five to ten percent due to COVID-19. Although we want things to return to normal, the same can’t be said for our carbon emissions.
Of course, ensuring responsibility doesn’t fall on the shoulders on one group of people, but business owners have a huge influence and the chance to empower their employees and change how their company works. We are currently at a 'historical turning point', and therefore it is time to update your company’s eco-policies, or risk falling out of step with the modern, green-focussed consumer. After all, research shows that the UK’s medium-sized businesses are responding in full force to threats to the environment, with 57.5% claiming that sustainability is ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ influential in their decision making.
Furthermore, in one survey, 71 of the companies involved reported that their environmental improvements also led to reduced costs - a clear win-win! So, whether it be for the sake of the environment, worker-wellbeing, or value for money, it’s time to update your business’s approach to sustainability in order to inspire and empower your employees. Here’s how to make a change.
The transport your employees take to get to work is just as important as other considerations. In many cases, multiple employees will be using their own vehicle to travel to the office, and although this might be convenient, it’s a wasteful method of commuting. In the UK, a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions come from road transport, so it’s important that you do your part to encourage employees to utilise different methods.
Firstly, you can ensure that your employees are aware of the cycle to work scheme - a system that will save them money, benefit their fitness levels, and cut carbon emissions.
In light of lockdown and social distancing at work, it might also be useful to consider taking a more flexible approach to working from home. Over the past few months, many companies have found that their employees work just as well from home, and this move towards remote working is a great way to tackle the commuting carbon emissions.
Regardless the sector you’re in, the energy supply that your business runs on makes a huge difference to your carbon emissions as well as your costs. Switching to propane is sure to benefit with potential cost savings and reduced emissions, making this switch will result in a reliable and dependable energy supply.
A spokesperson from Tamnavulin Distillery explained the company’s reasoning behind making the switch from oil to gas with Flogas: “As a business it was essential for us to go beyond the required environmental standards and not only have we achieved significant emissions improvements, but we have reduced our fuel bill as well.”
As well as introducing change in your business, make sure that your employees are aware of the benefits of reassessing their energy choices as well - it could save them money and reduce the emissions created in their home as well as in the workplace.
Working collaboratively with other green businesses is a great way to champion an eco-friendly way of working. Connect with sustainable vendors the next time you host a social or a networking event or build relationships with sustainable firms by offering company discounts or other incentives.
Paperless and reusable
Why not go one step further in our digital world and make ‘paperless’ your work policy? This could also extend to kitchenware, new starter packs, and any other disposable products that could be switched out for a reusable or digital alternative.
Think about carbon offsetting
If your business releases carbon emissions that cannot be avoided, such as those caused by essential activities, why not investigate how to offset carbon emissions? Opting into a carbon offsetting initiative can mitigate your business’s energy emissions while also supporting essential sustainability projects around the world.
If you lead by example and make your employees aware of the benefits of carbon offsetting, this initiative doesn’t have to be exclusively for the workplace either - spread the word and encourage your employees to consider carbon offsetting in their lives outside of the office.
Your green message
Although yes, there are plenty of tangible and practical steps you can take to reduce your company’s emissions and become more sustainable, the company culture has the ability to truly empower your employees and change the way they think about sustainability.
Ensure that you communicate your eco-efforts clearly and proudly to your workforce, and make sure that sustainability is worked into discussions and meetings whenever possible. Creating a green company culture will inspire your employees and ensure that sustainability is always at the front of their minds.
As someone with the ability to make change, pave the way towards a greener future with important rules and measures. Doing so will become habit for your employees that they can even take home with them.