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11+ Workplace Sustainability Ideas that Human Resources Can Adopt

Businesses everywhere are finding ways to minimize negative impacts on the environment. But to create a sustainable workplace (and save the planet), organizations need the help of their trusty HR team.

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🀨 How do HR & environmental sustainability connect?

There's a little nuance to how a company's HR department and how businesses contribute to environmental sustainability overlap.

It's not exactly the Head of Human Resources' job to solve global warming.

However, HR is a strong link between an organization's management and its employees. πŸ”— Their role is to protect both sides of the coin, which involves keeping companies up-to-date on what their staff cares about.

In recent years, more and more employees have placed tremendous pressure on companies to incorporate more sustainable business practices. Why? 🀷

On a global scale, people simply want to achieve a more sustainable future for the world. But on a company level, industry efforts around workplace sustainability make employees feel cared for. Sustainable practices show employees an organization shares their world values and cares for their safety and longevity.

πŸ“Œ HR is a powerful resource for high retention rates, but so are sustainability efforts.

✨ Benefits of workplace sustainability

Before we get into what you can do, we'll butter you up with the benefits a sustainable workplace brings. 🎁 Just to name a few:

  • Customers are more likely to use your services. A recent study showed over 1/3 of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainability. (Business Wire)
  • Companies save money thanks to reduced power consumption. Lower energy bills? We'll take 'em.
  • You'll improve the health and vitality of your organization and the Earth. How? The ROI of companies who invest in sustainability can tell you.


πŸ’‘ What can HR professionals do?

We'll go in-depth below, but to sum it up, HR professionals can:

  • Ensure team leaders and employees have a voice when companies create more sustainable practices.
  • Make sure your policies and company values are updated alongside your sustainability efforts. (We ❀️ documentation)
  • Maintain awareness and engagement through training sessions, employee-led volunteer groups, and fun sustainability activities.

Now, let's go into more detail! ✍️

1. Start at the top πŸ”

When addressing employee concerns around the environment, you'll want to take it to the top.

Before you go straight to your CEO with an environmental game plan, make sure to do your research and be ready to show why workplace sustainability benefits your organization. (Hint: that link will help plead your case)

2. Champion for a carbon footprint audit 🐾

Did you know your company can measure its negative environmental impact?

A carbon footprint audit helps your organization identify its biggest emission issues. From there, your company can either make changes around energy consumption or consider carbon offers.


Besides reducing your impact, your organization could start saving energy costs, too!

3. Review your company culture & values πŸ€“

Your company values are the principles that drive your business. As someone in HR, a portion of your job is dedicated to promoting those values and making sure they align with your organization's goals.

If your company is seriously making moves to create a sustainable workplace, it's time to review those values.

4. Approach office policies with environmental impact in mind 🌱

When creating a sustainable workplace, you'll want to revisit current policies and find ways to greenify them. πŸ’š Ask questions like:

  • Would having employees working from home make sense? 🏑
  • Does your company have guidelines around partnering with green vendors?Β πŸš›
  • Do you have set rules for recycling office supplies or disposing of food waste? ♻️
  • Are there ways to transition to renewable energy? 🌞

Examining internal policies will give you a clear picture of your company's current sustainable practices - and where improvement is needed most.

5. Connect with team leaders 🀝

When companies start brainstorming and building policies for a sustainable work environment, employers must loop in leadership and ask for their opinions.

For one, communication is (and always will be) the best business practice. But, as an HR representative, you have a vested interest in company culture.

Ensuring leadership inclusion in environmental talks will help you blend these new sustainable initiatives into the current work environment. Team leads can provide valuable insight into implementing sustainable business practices and can be prepared to help their team understand what it might mean for them.

Plus, who knows what eco-friendly ideas your managers have up their sleeves? πŸ‘€


6. Get your employees involved πŸ‘―

Alright, so you accomplished all those high-level ideas. Now what? It's time to let those People Operations skills shine. 🀩

Ready to get your people as involved and invested as you?

7. Raise awareness through education πŸ“š

Wanna see continuous improvement in your sustainable workplace? Short, recurring training sessions on all things environmental will do the trick. πŸ₯³

These awareness sessions should also open the floor for discussions! Chances are, your staff is invested in making a positive impact on the environment, too. They may even contribute outside knowledge, new ideas, and action items for bettering the work environment.

8. Hold accountability checks βœ…

Implementing environmental harm reduction strategies is one thing, but it's another to make sure they're followed.

HR and People Operations can design monthly environmental pulse checks for the business. Don't worry - you can ensure the organization is held accountable without singling any individual out.

🧐 Here are a few questions you can include in your accountability checks:

  • Did we meet the sustainability goals we set for this month?
  • If goals were not met, what happened? What can we do to prevent this in the future?
  • What area did the company struggle with the most? (Energy consumption, product shipping, corporate travel, etc.)
  • Do employees feel aligned with current environmental practices?

9. Create an employee-led green team ♻️

Remember our point about employee involvement? πŸ‘€ Your organization's employees are an invaluable asset in achieving sustainability goals. So, why not facilitate an employee-volunteer green team?

The greenest minds of your office can come together to continue developing sustainability initiatives. Plus, this eco-friendly initiative can (and should) involve employees across all departments and levels!

Environment aside for a sec, groups like this foster a better company culture. It gives people a chance to connect over passions that exist outside of work and genuinely get to know each.

And, in the case of a green team, it's pretty cool that employees can come together to save the world.

10. Make sustainability fun πŸ₯³

Can you really achieve a sustainable environment without some fun? Maybe, but that sounds awful. 😬

As we mentioned earlier, sustainability plays a decent part in retention. But a fun, engaging company culture is just as essential.

Combine your efforts with sustainability activities, like a Zero Waste Workshop or an environmental trivia game!

11. Inspire with incentive πŸ™Œ

You can integrate sustainable actions into your work culture with easy, but meaningful incentives for employees.

For example, you could set up a donation-match program for environmental non-profits your employees care about. Or you could set up dedicated volunteer days for local clean-ups or host recycling drives with cash prizes.

⭐️ Bonus tips: quick, easy changes to consider

Here are a few more ideas to create an environmentally-friendly, efficient workplace:

  • Stop purchasing single-use plastic for the breakroom. Cut costs and opt for reusable dishware, gifted to your employees on behalf of the company. Sustainable dining at its finest. πŸ‘©β€πŸ³
  • If you're back in the office, encourage the use of public transportation. Consider equipping your employees with monthly transit passes.
  • Set up a recycling program and recycle office supplies and old computer parts. Think of all the raw materials that make up your everyday office goodies. Now imagine all that repurposed, rather than as waste in a landfill.


No time to waste ⏰

Creating a sustainable work environment is no easy task. But it's one many organizations are taking on. In doing so, they invest in the health of their employee experience and the planet.

For folks in HR, it's your duty to ensure your organization adopts quality environmental practices that align with your employees' and employers' interests.

But don't panic - you've got this! This article just equipped you with the (non-plastic) tools to take your organizations' environmental initiatives to the next level. And we at Confetti are so excited to see how it goes. 🌎


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