Now that the long winter is finally behind us, we are all enjoying seeing “green” in the landscape. Going green is a hot topic, and it doesn’t mean putting more plants in the foyer, although that isn’t such a bad idea. While we hear about becoming more environmentally friendly nearly every day in the news, has the workplace caught on yet?
According to the 2008 Society for Hunan Resource Management (SHRM) Green Workplace Survey of 429 HR professionals, 50 percent of surveyed organizations have a formal or informal environmental responsibility policy, but 43 percent have no such policy and no plans to implement one within the next 12 months.
Companies that implement environmental responsibility programs report considerable benefits. Human resource (HR) professionals cite improved employee morale (44%) and a stronger public image for the company (42%) as top benefits. They also report increased consumer/customer confidence/choice (20%) and a positive financial bottom line (19%) as a result of the organization’s environmental responsible program. Survey respondents also cite increased employee loyalty (16%).
While there do seem to be some positive benefits to being environmentally friendly, HR professionals admit that it’s not easy for their companies to become and remain environmentally friendly. The most common barrier to creating an environmental program is implementation cost (85%), followed by maintenance cost (74%). Other barriers include lack of management support (43%), lack of employee support (25%) and concern for workplace inefficiency (20%).
Still, nearly three out of four employees from companies without environmental programs say they want their employers to “go green.” Seventy-three percent of surveyed employees in companies without an environmental responsibility policy thought it was very or somewhat important that their organization develop one.
Both human resource professionals and employees state that their primary motivation for participating in environmentally responsible programs is to make a contribution to society. HR professionals placed more weight on environmental (53%) and economic (46%) considerations as the second and third most prevalent company motivators. Employees report public relations strategy (26%) and health and safety considerations (24%), respectively, as the second and third driving factors.
So what are some easy things that can be done to become more energy efficient in the workplace?
- Unplug appliances before leaving the office. Electricity continues to flow as long as computers, radios and lamps are plugged in.
- Take the stairs rather than the elevator.
- Green your commute to work. Do your part in reducing the 23 billion gallons of gas Americans consume by carpooling or using public transportation.
- Swap your disposable utensils for real metal ones to reduce the amount of plastic consumption.
- Switch to 100 percent recycled office supplies.
- Go paperless! Think twice before printing emails and documents. Extreme green tip: Scan employee files rather than having huge rooms with paper.
- Bring your lunch in reusable containers rather than purchasing styrofoam containers daily to be green AND save money!
- When not in use, turn off the juice! When you leave the office for the night or for lunch, turn off the lights. Ensure common areas and bathroom lights are off when you leave for the day.
- Cool down the office. Turning down the temperature just three degrees can result in 10 percent energy savings; conversely, turn up the temperature in the summer months.
Not only will these ideas go a long way in taking care of the environment, they are also money savers that can improve the bottom line. Are you willing and able to proactively take the first steps in making you workplace a “green” space? Now may be the time, given the many positive side benefits of doing so. Who knows—in the current political environment, it could become mandated, not just voluntary. IBI