Employee behaviour can have a massive impact on a company’s bottom line. Sustainability practices followed at home may seem irrelevant in the workplace where the individual is not responsible for the bills and can’t so easily see the benefits and opportunities – environmentally, socially and financially.
Discover 10 wicked, failsafe methods for encouraging a sustainable mindset among staff in the workplace and ensuring maximum employee buy-in.
1. Support sustainability organisations
Many workplaces involve themselves in charitable activations such as Octsober and Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea.
Choosing a sustainability-focused cause to support with a lunch event, a casual Friday, or outside-hours group activity is a way to ensure your staff understand the company’s priorities and can make for a fun and engaging team exercise as well.
2. Assemble Green Teams
Green teams or green champions in the office can take on the responsibility of ensuring that the company’s sustainability policies are up to date and that staff are clearly aware of them (and adhering to them).
Many employees appreciate the added measure of responsibility and there are also opportunities to provide additional benefits for those who volunteer for Green Teams.
3. Turn off time
The amount of power used by machines over a long period on standby is astonishing. Instigate a company-wide turn off trend at the end of the day whereby everyone is responsible for ensuring that the machines in their area are switched off completely rather than just on standby mode. Obvious exceptions are things like servers and backups that have to stay on overnight.
Alternatively, make the entire office one person’s job – a green champion, perhaps – to check as they are leaving.
4. Train and educate
Generally speaking, employees are happier about jumping on board with a company’s vision if they understand the ‘why’ of it all. Taking the time to educate staff on green initiatives – either internally or via an external organisation – will not only ensure that everyone understands the policies you have in place, but will also provide team members with a clear understanding of the overall benefits of adhering to them – and an understanding of why they are so critical.
5. Print smarter
There are multiple ways to print smarter. Set your printer to default to double sided, so it has to be manually changed to print one sided.
Always use recycled paper. Keep a stash of already printed, one-sided paper next to the copier or in one of its drawers, so staff know to use it instead of fresh paper if they are printing something that isn’t leaving the building.
Use old printed items for notepads. Most of all, print less. Scanners, editable PDFs and emails all exist – ensure staff are educated on how to utilise them to their full capacity.
6. Create a freebies table
This works best in a mid to large sized team. Set aside a table where staff can bring in items from home that they wish to give away, or swap.
From baby items to sports equipment, a fresh slew of free items to pore over each week or month is bound to generate some excitement among team members.
Any replaced but still working office equipment can join the home items as well. Depending on the build up, a regular charity run can take care of any leftovers.
7. Recycle right
This may seem obvious, but there are always ways to up the game. Ensure that there are sufficient bins in the office for separating rubbish, and make sure that they are so clearly marked they can’t be missed.
Make sure that your toner products are either recycled or recyclable, and the cartridges are regularly returned to be re-used.
Have a robust recycling policy for e-waste such as old office machines, phones and laptops, and fold down and retain all boxes and packaging that comes into the office for archiving or outward shipping.
If staff are fully aware of the clear expectations on them they are more likely to participate.
8. Employ effective data destruction methods
There is both a security and a sustainability benefit to ensuring your data is adequately destroyed. Peace of mind can be achieved by hiring an external company like Buyequip to sanitise all of your old hard drives. They should also be able to store them securely until doing so, in order to remove them from your office.
When it comes to hard drives that are faulty or no longer physically required, there are specialised machines that can shred them down into unusable pieces.
9. Ban plastic bottles
A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis some campaigners predict will be as serious as climate change.
For everyone who thinks “Oh it’s just one bottle”, there have been a trillion other thoughts before and, it is, without question, hurrying the demise of the planet.
Every workplace should aim to ban plastic water bottles among its staff – and this includes getting rid of any vending machines that stock them. Ensure that your office tap has a filter and there are plenty of glasses available for everyone.
10. Limit transport
The most obvious way to limit the hours staff spend commuting is to investigate which employees are able to do their work from home – if practical. Even one or two days a week without a commute contributes to reducing carbon emissions.
For staff who need to be present in the office for the whole working week, institute a carpooling scheme by area, and include Go Cards or other annual tickets in staff packages or gifts as incentives to use public transport.