11 Benefits of Sustainability in the Workplace

11 Benefits of Sustainability in the Workplace

Nowadays, sustainability in the workplace is a strategic necessity. And the return on investment is well worth the time and resources.

What does workplace sustainability mean?

In the business world, sustainability refers to strategically conducting business without any negative impacts to the environment, community, or society as an entire entity. This includes practices related to making a profit, providing a service, building a product, and equipping employees with the tools to be successful.

What are the benefits of workplace sustainability?

Adobe, IBM, Numi Organic Tea, Patagonia, and Seventh Generation have become some of the most sustainable companies in recent years. These organizations rely on renewable energy and are committed to reducing waste. Why have they spent time and money on these efforts? Well, it clearly pays off!

Eco-friendly practices make a positive impact on the earth and are sustain. Workplace sustainability should be a priority for all.

“There has never been a more vital moment for CEOs to embrace sustainability as a core aspect of the enterprise. It’s clear that environmentally minded organizations are set up for long-term success—and the time to act is now.” - IBM’s website

The following benefits of a strategic sustainability plan have a direct, positive impact on the company’s current and future financial growth. They all help companies either save or make money or both. These benefits initiate a profound ripple effect throughout the organization and lead to a more sustainable future.

#1. Tax incentives: Federal and often local governments offer tax incentives for businesses that support sustainable practices. Company leaders should thoroughly understand available tax incentives for sustainability practices. The most impactful tax incentives and rebates are related to reducing traditional energy uses, such as using more natural light, conserving water, having efficient heating and AC systems, and finding alternative energy sources, such as solar energy.

Knowledge of sustainability tax incentives and rebates allows organizations to take advantage of opportunities to create capital and economic growth. In addition, organizations would be wise to avoid potential risks by being more sustainable and ahead of regulations.

#2. Energy efficiencies: One of the most noteworthy benefits of sustainability initiatives is the money companies can save on water, electricity, and other resources. It would then be wise to turn around and invest these savings to make further energy-efficient upgrades.

Guess what? It’s simple to change the energy source for your workplace! Just make a quick call to the utility company. Renewable energy doesn’t produce dangerous greenhouse gases the way burning fossil fuels does. Renewable energy is a much safer option for long-term usage. Adobe’s all-electric building helps power their other buildings using 100% renewable electricity. Most organizations could do this, too!

Another great way to create a more sustainable workplace is to reduce water waste. Organizations can reduce their company’s environmental impact and water supply bill by installing special equipment to help conserve water. The Missouri Botanical Garden has a 50,000-gallon stormwater collection system built into the garden’s landscape that reduces water consumption for caring for thousands of plants.

#3. Waste reduction: Paper usage is mind-boggling! U.S. businesses use 12.1 trillion sheets of paper a year! Americans use about 31.5 million tons of printing and writing paper each year. This paper usage equals about 660 pounds per person – 535 million trees and 12 billion gallons of oil!

It may be impossible to be an entirely paperless office. However, employees can conserve paper (and expensive ink) by only printing documents when necessary. Be sure to use deforestation-free printer paper to create a greener office. NatWest Group, a British banking and insurance holding company, saved 9 million sheets of paper, 960,000 gallons of water, and 336,000 pounds of wood by switching from paper to Adobe Sign.

#4. Corporate social responsibility fulfillment: Companies should set guidelines on working with and positively impacting the communities and environment where they do business. Empower employees to organize and execute activities around social responsibility such as a local park clean-up day during National Park Week.

“Corporate social responsibility is a hard-edged business decision. Not because it is a nice thing to do or because people are forcing us to do it... because it is good for our business.” - Niall FitzGerald, former Unilever CEO

#5. Enhanced company reputation: Organizations with a sustainability plan in place have a definite competitive advantage. And they instantly gain respect from clients, consumers, top talent, job seekers, and others in the industry. Ninety-two percent of consumers are more likely to trust an environmentally or socially conscious brand. And 88% of consumers will be more loyal to companies that support social or environmental issues, according to Forbes.

#6. Win over new customers: By promoting your sustainability efforts, organizations can attract new customers who are eco-conscious. Organizations should toot their horn on their company website, social media platforms, and through marketing campaigns. Be sure to have close ties with the news media.

IKEA’s sustainability initiatives reduced costs and quickly attracted new eco-conscious customers. Their customer base appreciates their investment in renewable energy, responsible sourcing of wood, and energy-efficient products.

#7. Enhanced employee engagement and productivity: Employees who participate in sustainability efforts in the workplace are more engaged in their work. According to a study by the University of California, Los Angeles, employees at eco-friendly companies are 16% more productive than average workers. Workplace sustainability is mutually beneficial - fewer sick days, less employee burnout, and higher job performance.

“When you establish values as a business and your employees care about your mission, everyone works harder.” - Yvon Chouinard, founder of outdoor apparel retailer Patagonia

#8. Greater employee job satisfaction: When employees have a purpose — a sense of responsibility — and know they can make a difference, they will be proud to work for the organization. Greater employee satisfaction leads to happier, more engaged employees. And employees are more likely to engage in innovative behaviors. 3M implemented employee-driven sustainable projects that saved the company millions of dollars and prevented billions of pounds of pollution. 3M employees expressed and acted upon their values and found more meaning in their jobs.

#9. Improved opportunity to attract and retain top talent: Today’s job seekers are researching potential employers’ best practices in sustainability when deciding where to work. An organization’s health and greener living are of high importance to them. They want to work for a company that follows this same value. It’s definitely a selling point for companies with a strong culture of sustainability practices and initiatives.

“We’re in the business to save our home planet.” - Patagonia’s Mission Statement

Sustainability practices make a difference in employee retention rates. In a survey, 83% of millennials reported more loyalty to a company that prioritizes greener living and addresses environmental issues head-on. As more and more people become aware of the importance of preserving our planet’s natural resources, the number of people concerned with an environmentally conscious workplace will keep growing. Retaining top talent saves on recruiting, hiring, and training costs, and long-term financial stability results.

#10. Gain a competitive advantage: Why not purchase gently used office equipment, reuse file folders, save cardboard boxes for shipping, and practice other green strategies? Due to the cost savings of sustainability best practices such as these, organizations will have a competitive advantage. Even these small changes quickly add up to big dollars saved! Don’t underestimate the financial benefits of this.

#11. Leverage sustainability initiatives as a marketing tool: Organizations can appeal to potential prospects and customers by committing to a sustainability strategy and publicizing it. Seventh Generation is a perfect example. They’re committing to reach their goal that 100% of their packaging will be reusable and reused, recyclable and recycled, or biodegradable and degraded by 2025.

On a side note, consider certifying the business as an environmentally conscious organization after establishing new policies and procedures for greener operations. This certification shows the organization takes corporate social responsibility seriously. It can help attract new clients and employees and retain those who value sustainable business practices.

Where to start?

“As a business, you have an individual responsibility to assess how much waste you put into the world.” - Reem Hassani, Numi Organic Tea co-founder and chief brand officer

The commitment to ongoing companywide sustainability initiatives starts with the leadership team and must have management support. The first step is conducting an audit to determine the best energy-saving opportunities. After completing the audit, the next step is to make strategic decisions. Decisions should encompass what changes have the most significant impact, the best competitive advantage, and the ideal long-term solution.

Employee training is critical to the long-term success of sustainability goals. Employee sustainability training should start once decisions are finalized on the action plans. All employees should participate in the training to fully understand what sustainability is and why it’s so important. The benefits should be explained in detail so they can clearly see the benefits not only to the organization but to them as well.

Training should inspire employees to be part of sustainability efforts. Allow them to exchange ideas. Listen to their ideas. Test their ideas. Effectively communicate the importance of sustainability and their commitment. Get them excited through company social media channels and company newsletters. When employees understand and are recognized for the positive impact they make, they will feel more engaged and personally connected to the sustainability mission.

HSI Can Help

Many business leaders are seeing the relationship between long-term success and sustainability and that’s very heartening.” - Jacqueline Novogratz, American entrepreneur and author

Interested in fostering a culture of sustainability and making a positive impact? Partnering with us allows you to access all our sustainability courses:

Many of HSI’s clients open our course library for self-directed employee learning. Employees can choose off-the-shelf training videos to sharpen their knowledge and learn new skills. For more information on the best way HSI can help with your sustainability goals, request a free trial.


Close Menu