Does your organization prioritize the health and well-being of the workplace? The likely answer is yes.
But, as topics such as sustainability, climate change, and corporate social responsibility become more widely discussed around the world, business leaders have started to revisit this question from a new perspective—recognizing the importance of integrating these topics into their practices to improve their environmental initiatives, workplace culture, and the overall health of the business and its employees.
Be that as it may, when some business leaders hear the term “healthy workplace environment,” they assume that this type of organizational change requires a massive overhaul to processes, which, in their mind, could take a lot of time and resources.
Believe it or not, creating a healthier workplace doesn’t require as much change to business practices as one might think. According to the World Health Organization’s definition, a healthy workplace is one in which workers and managers collaborate to use a continual improvement process to protect and promote the health, safety, and well-being of all workers and the sustainability of the workplace. And, the benefits that organizations experience by investing in eco-friendly practices are difficult to ignore. As of 2017, companies that focused on green innovation experienced an annual growth rate of 15 percent—making this commitment toward iterative sustainability and small changes to workplace health even more worth it.
With that in mind, businesses have an excellent opportunity to focus on iterating on old ideas and introducing new practices to improve the overall health of their organization. Read the below to pick up tips for integrating environmentally-friendly practices into your business to help create a healthier environment while simultaneously driving corporate success!
Advantages of Integrating Eco-Friendly Practices in Business
Businesses can’t afford to ignore the importance of a sustainable business environment. Research shows that social responsibility offers many benefits for companies, including cost-savings, improved customer loyalty, a boost in employee morale, and general waste reduction. Here’s how the impact breaks down:
Many business owners believe that prioritization of sustainability translates to increased operational costs, but that’s simply not the case! Adopting eco-friendly business practices can, in actuality, reduce business expenses and help increase profits. Businesses can also achieve cost savings by optimizing building operations, improving efficiencies, and reducing energy consumption. One example of this is recycling, which can help divert materials from your trash and help reduce overall waste bills. Using less energy, water, and waste equals less money going towards recurring bills. Don’t just take it from us: A 2014 study by Indiana University found that one firm saved $7 billion through sustainable manufacturing, while another was able to save $80 million a year by reducing its energy use. Gaining insight into your business practices, and making incremental improvements when necessary, is critical for making a positive impact as a facilities manager or business leader, maintaining company-wide sustainability, and cutting costs for a business.
Another advantage of integrating eco-friendly practices into your business is the increase in customer loyalty. In this day and age, customers prefer to do business with eco-friendly companies. A point that is further supported by the Natural Marketing Institute, which discovered that 58 percent of consumers consider a company’s impact on the environment when deciding where to purchase goods and services. In summary, consumers will pay more for products and services that come from companies committed to sustainability.
Similarly to consumer loyalty, eco-friendly behavior often elevates a company’s reputation and status internally as well—leading to happier employees. Many workers today prefer to work for, and enjoy, being associated with environmentally responsible companies. What’s more, sustainable business can attract and retain top talent. Research conducted by Cone Communications found that 64 percent of Millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work. Bonus fact: Involving your workers in your sustainability initiatives can have a high return on your internal environment with 88 percent of Millennials claiming their job is more fulfilling when businesses provide opportunities for them to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues!
When workers see business leaders making an effort to educate themselves on sustainability and reduce their impact, many become inspired to follow suit. As a result, people are more likely to evaluate their consumption habits, recycle when possible, and reuse items to reduce waste when those around them are doing the same. These actions benefit businesses by decreasing the amount of material that ends up in landfills, thereby reducing waste costs and improving overall sustainability.
6 Tips for a Healthier Business Environment
Many organizations believe that they don’t have the tools or resources to succeed in creating a healthier business environment. But, the truth is, taking even the smallest steps will have a positive impact on the planet, your business, and your bottom line. Let’s take a look at 6 tips that can help create a healthier workplace environment.
1. Use eco-friendly cleaning solutions
Many people do not realize that using conventional cleaning products releases harmful chemicals into the environment, which is not healthy for your workforce, or the planet. In fact, dangerous cleaning products can also contribute to high pollution indoors—impacting both you and your employees. Consider changing up your cleaning routine by purchasing “eco-friendly” cleaning products for your business moving forward. Care, a family caregiver service, states that switching to “greener” cleaning methods helps reduce pollution to waterways and the air while also minimizing the impact on ozone depletion and global climate change. You can also rest assured knowing that by leveraging natural, eco-friendly products you’re also contributing to the reduction of waste in landfills because many of these products use less packaging and more sustainable manufacturing processes. Click here for a list of some popular eco-friendly cleaning products.
2. Encourage a new commute to work
We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: The transportation sector is one of the top contributors of greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA estimates that in 2017, transportation activities—from cars, trucks, commercial aircraft, railroads, and other sources—accounted for 29 percent of total greenhouse gases emitted into the environment. According to the 2016 American Community Survey, about 150 million workers drove approximately 115 million vehicles to and from work every day, which contributed to air pollution and has negative impacts on employee health outside of work. As a way to encourage new commuting options, try starting a carpooling system, or subsidizing transportation through pre-tax benefit cards to inspire employees to take public transportation. The American Public Transportation Association stated that in 2011, the use of public transportation “saved 865 hours in travel time and 450 million gallons of fuel in 498 urban areas.” Encouraging employees to bike or walk to work is also a great way to improve the general health of your workplace. A great way to incentivize participation is by entering employees who walk or bike to work a certain number of times per month in a raffle to win a gift card or free lunch.
3. Break the addiction to plastic convenience
Humans produce over 300 million tons of plastic every year. By focusing on reducing plastics, offering alternatives to single-use products, and recycling whenever possible, businesses can reduce waste, save money, and minimize their environmental impact. A great place to start is by decreasing single-use water bottles and coffee mugs—especially in communal workplace areas. Every year, the average office worker uses approximately 156 plastic water bottles and throws away 500 coffee cups. Using reusable water bottles and mugs requires fewer natural resources to create, reduces your business’ carbon footprint, and lessens the amount of waste that fills landfills, oceans, and the environment. Truth be told, RoadRunner made these same changes last year and was able to keep 10,000 cups from reaching a landfill while saving our business $1,000 per year from not having to purchase disposable cups and mugs. You can further encourage employees to minimize plastic through incentives, such as by rewarding those who pack a zero-waste lunch for a week! Feel free to use and share the below graphic we created as a reminder and motivator for your team to reduce their waste impact:
4. Bring plants into the office
If your office has poor ventilation, then your team may be at risk of developing sick building syndrome. This, by definition, is a condition affecting office workers, typically marked by headaches and respiratory problems, attributed to unhealthy or stressful factors in the working environment such as poor ventilation.
Bringing plants to the workplace can help alleviate these symptoms due to their natural air purifying effects and stress-reducing qualities. They also help absorb toxins, reduce indoor air pollution, and are a great visual reminder of the importance of sustainable living. That’s not all: Plants also encourage productivity and help save energy. According to Exeter University, workers are 15 percent more productive when there are house plants in the office. And, the evaporation from a single large tree can produce the cooling effect of 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day!
5. Reduce building energy footprint
NRDC.org suggests that powering buildings can make up 75 percent of a city’s carbon pollution. However, much of that energy is often wasted through drafty windows and outdated technology. IGS references a study conducted by the International Energy Agency (IEA), suggesting that making improvements to building insulation, implementing efficient heating and cooling systems, and switching to efficient lighting and appliances creates a more comfortable environment for employees. The best part is, companies can incorporate eco-friendly practices to save energy and money, all while boosting office morale. When employees see businesses making an effort to improve their energy efficiency, they take notice, inspiring them to get involved too. Learning how to reduce energy throughout your building can not only drive employee appreciation but can also help reduce costs and improve workers’ health, long-term.
6. Create a recycling program
Another way businesses can help support a healthier environment is by implementing a recycling program throughout the building. Recycling helps to save resources, reduce waste sent to landfills, conserve energy, and minimize emissions associated with transporting waste to landfills. What’s more is that most employees, especially Millennials, want businesses to help them recycle. A recent study found that 75 percent of Millennials would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company. Be sure to talk to internal stakeholders about implementing recycling streams based on the types of materials your business generates most often—whether it be cardboard, paper, plastic, compost, or e-waste. Focusing on waste reduction and recycling can inspire employees to consciously make better choices when it comes to reducing their impact inside and outside of the office. If you’re interested in learning more, set up a free consultation with RoadRunner to learn more about our waste and recycling services, and how we can help your business audit and improve recycling while decreasing overall waste costs.
As corporations strive to create a healthier business model, many soon realize the lasting cost savings, consumer loyalty, employee morale, and waste reduction opportunities that come along with it. And, the best part is, it only takes implementing small, iterative changes like the ideas listed above to get started in the right direction. If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it on social media and tagging RoadRunner in your post. Thanks, again for reading with us!