Special offer 

Jumpstart your hiring with a $75 credit to sponsor your first job.*

Sponsored Jobs are 2.6x times faster to first hire than non-sponsored jobs.**
  • Attract the talent you’re looking for
  • Get more visibility in search results
  • Appear to more candidates longer

How Employers Can Encourage Sustainability in the Workplace

As an employer, you have the opportunity to create a workplace that embraces sustainability. You can also instill these values into how you operate your business. Find out the benefits of sustainability in the workplace and 10 ways to make your company more environmentally friendly. 

Post a Job

What is sustainability in the workplace?

Sustainability in business means that an organization conducts its operations with the goal of being environmentally conscious and preventing the depletion of limited resources. Often, sustainability in the workplace is divided into three categories: people, planet and profit. 

Why does sustainability in the workplace matter?

In a world that’s increasingly aware of and sensitive to environmental issues, implementing sustainable practices can make your business stand out. Four benefits of promoting a sustainable workplace are:

1. Improved brand awareness

Companies can openly promote their eco-friendly actions to generate positive brand awareness from customers and future candidates. A 2020 McKinsey US consumer sentiment survey found that over 60% of consumers were willing to pay more for a product with sustainable packaging. A NielsenIQ study found 78% of respondents valued living a sustainable lifestyle.

Sharing your organization’s sustainability efforts can help you stand out from your competition

2. Employee attraction and retention

Highlighting your commitment to running your business in an environmentally-conscious way can appeal to candidates. People generally want to work for companies striving to impact the world positively. In fact, one study even found that over 60% of respondents would take a pay cut to work for a purpose-driven organization. 

In addition to attracting talent, your sustainability efforts can retain employees too, which is incredibly beneficial to a company by reducing costs and avoiding disruptions in productivity. Showing a genuine, company-wide commitment to sustainability and the positive impacts it has may foster a sense of pride within current employees. 

3. Cost savings

In some cases, the sustainable route can also save money. For example, educating employees on reducing unnecessary consumption can save money on utility bills and supplies. 

4. Company purpose 

Embracing sustainability practices can give your company the goal of running a successful business without negatively impacting the environment, which, in turn, can motivate and inspire others to do the same. 

10 tips for encouraging sustainability in the workplace

Here are 10 ways employers can incorporate sustainability into their everyday operations.

1. Be a paperless office

Unless you work in an industry where paper documents are necessary, there’s a high chance you can almost entirely eliminate printing in the office. Encourage employees to be as paperless as possible. You can have signs at your printers asking the employees to consider if this needs to be printed and discuss the benefits of avoiding printing during employee training. 

2. Prioritize working with green-friendly vendors

Consumers can “speak with their wallets.” When they’re willing to spend more to buy from a sustainable company, they show that sticking to these values is important to them. The same can be true for employers. When employers prioritize working with green-friendly vendors, they show what matters to the organization. 

Do a complete audit of your vendors and identify if there are competitors on the market who are more sustainable for the same products and services. Whenever possible, go with the greener option. 

3. Have a recycling program

Simply setting out recycling bins will give your employees an easy, sustainable option every time they step toward the trash. 

4. Encourage reusing

Many workplaces supply their employees with single-use coffee cups and water cups. Try to eliminate these systems and encourage employees to reuse cups. You can have a water station where employees can refill reusable water bottles and provide glassware for coffee and other beverages. 

5. Purchase indoor plants

Indoor plants absorb carbon dioxide, reducing the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. It might be a small impact, but placing indoor plants throughout your business space can purify the air and help the environment overall. 

6. Conserve energy

There are many small steps you can take to decrease unnecessary energy usage within your daily operations, including:

  • Choosing to purchase energy-efficient lightbulbs
  • Having motion-activated lights so the lights don’t run when a space is empty
  • Upgrading to toilets with dual flush options
  • Getting an energy audit to identify problem areas

7. Reward eco-conscious transportation

Many of your employees may have to commute to work. You can encourage more sustainable transportation by offering incentives for employees to bike, walk or take public transit to work. You can promote this by:

  • Having a monthly competition for who can commute to work the most times in an eco-friendly, accessible way, with the winner getting a paid day off work
  • Offering discounts or free transit passes
  • Offering incentives for bike purchases

8. Consider going remote or hybrid 

Speaking of your employees’ commutes to work, consider the environmental impact of allowing your employees to work remotely or hybrid (if possible). A study examined the impact this significant increase in remote workers had on the environment. The study found working from home four days a week can reduce the amount of nitrogen dioxide in the air by 10%. Nitrogen dioxide is the primary pollutant created by car emissions. 

If you can allow your employees to work from home, you’re truly making a sustainable difference for the planet. 

9. Volunteer together

A great way to get your entire company to live the values you preach is to go out and act together. Volunteering for environmental causes can be a fantastic way to give back and connect as a team.

One way to do this is to launch a volunteer day on Earth Day, during which everyone gets paid to go out and participate in a local sustainable initiative. 

10. Make a sustainability declaration

Your organization is more likely to stick to its values if it shares them publicly and often. Don’t just decide between leadership that you want to be more sustainable. Share it with your employees and customers. You can also gather feedback and ideas from employees in ways you can be more sustainable in the future. If you’re committed to this change, you must proudly display that commitment—in writing—for the world to see. 

FAQs about sustainability in the workplace

Which of the three pillars of sustainability is the most important?

There is no hierarchy of importance for the three pillars (people, planet and profit), but it’s likely a business can’t put equal effort into all three. As a business owner, you may want to decide which pillar is the most important to you and where you feel you can make the greatest impact. Focus the majority of your efforts on this pillar to see real, tangible outcomes for your efforts. 

What are synonyms for sustainability in the workplace?

Some of the synonyms for sustainability in the workplace are organizations that call themselves:

  • Green
  • Eco-friendly
  • Environmentally conscious
  • Renewable
  • Low energy
  • Zero waste
  • Ethical
  • Carbon neutral

Depending on the specific sustainability practices you’re focused on, you may want to use more specific language. For example, someone who is operating a business that is dedicated to creating zero waste, reusable packaging may want to highlight this rather than simply saying they’re sustainable. 

Post a Job

Ready to get started?

Post a Job

*Indeed provides this information as a courtesy to users of this site. Please note that we are not your recruiting or legal advisor, we are not responsible for the content of your job descriptions, and none of the information provided herein guarantees performance.

Editorial Guidelines