Archive for going green

Going green in the war for talent

Going green can be a powerful recruitment and retention tool. 

While some analysts are saying that green initiatives are simply ‘nice extras’ that don’t affect employment decisions or employee satisfaction, a recent UK survey found that 80 per cent of respondents across 15 developed nations would prefer to work for a company that “has a good reputation for environmental responsibility”.

Surprisingly, more respondents were concerned about working for an environmentally responsible company than they were about purchasing from one.  Why?  Increasingly, employees feel a weight of responsibility for their employer’s environmental actions.

Commercial and residential buildings in Australia contribute 23 per cent of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and the Australian Greenhouse Office estimates that emissions from Australian buildings will increase by 94 per cent in the period 1990-2010.  These are seriously alarming statistics, and Australian workers are waking up to the fact that our work practices and office space need to be green.

Young people, in particular, are concerned about ‘climate crisis’ and want to work for eco-friendly companies – a survey of college students and graduates published in August revealed that 79 per cent of Generation Ys are more likely to accept a job offer from a company with a green focus.

So, how can you demonstrate to potential candidates that your company is committed to environmental sustainability?

  • Walk your talk: get serious about greening your operations and encouraging more eco-friendly behaviours in the office.  At RossJuliaRoss, we’ve developed a ‘Green Action Plan’ that outlines simple measures such as car pooling, reducing waste, recycling and turning off our computers at the end of each day.  We’ve committed our organisation to environmental stewardship and encourage staff to contribute their green ideas.  This environmental strategy has demonstrated the company’s green leadership and has been embraced by staff.
  • Say yes to smart travel: consider introducing teleworking options for employees keen to reduce their commute and corresponding CO² emissions.  It’s doesn’t just make environmental sense, but economic sense too; companies can save 17 per cent on salary costs simply by encouraging their employees to telework at least part of the week.  Other smart travel ideas include incentives for staff to purchase fuel-efficient or hybrid vehicles, take public transport or participate in car-pooling.
  • Support green philanthropy: consider matching employees’ donations to green charities, or giving employees time off to volunteer for environmental causes. 
  • Green your office space: the Green Building Council of Australia says that two-thirds of business managers believe that renting or owning a green building has helped them to attract and retain employees.  Green buildings not only reduce energy and water consumption, but increase worker productivity by more than 10 per cent.

But a word of warning: people are suspicious of ‘greenwashing’.  Employment agency Adecco has found, for instance, that 68 per cent of American adults think that most companies say they are more environmentally friendly than they actually are.  This sentiment does not change widely by age, gender or geography, with all major demographics closely agreeing that greenwashing is a reality in today’s workplace.

So, think carefully about which policies can accurately demonstrate your company’s green credentials.  Eco-friendly employment may be a key differentiator in the war for talent – and companies should actively market their green policies, activities and credentials to not only potential candidates, but their existing employees too.

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CSR – HR = PR

When you take away the human element from your company’s corporate social responsibilities, it is simply a PR exercise. 

In Driving Success: Human Resources and Sustainable Development, Adine Mees and Jamie Bunham say that “if employees are not engaged, corporate social responsibility becomes an exercise in public relations. The credibility of an organisation will become damaged when it becomes evident that a company is not ‘walking the talk’.”

Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to green initiatives.  While some analysts are saying that green initiatives are simply “nice extras” that don’t affect employment decisions or employee satisfaction, people are telling me that their employees really do want to be part of the solution to climate change.

Commercial and residential buildings in Australia contribute 23 per cent of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and the Australian Greenhouse Office estimates that emissions from Australian buildings will increase by 94 per cent in the period 1990-2010.  These are seriously alarming statistics, and Australian workers are waking up to the fact that our work practices and office space need to be green.

Trend watcher Reinier Evers says that perks and benefits, that he calls “perkonomics”, are a rising trend.  If that’s the case, green initiatives can be a good ‘perk’ that can add value to employees without costing the company a load of cash.  One recent study found that 79 per cent of Gen Y workers are more likely to accept a job offer from a company with a green focus.

Companies can save 17 per cent on salary costs simply by encouraging their employees to telework at least part of the week.  Flexible working conditions are a real ‘carrot’ to many prospective employees.  A survey of 1,400 CIOs across America found that offering flexible schedules was the second most important way to retain top technology talent.  More people (46 per cent) were keen for flexibility over larger pay packets (41 per cent).

Green buildings offer another ‘perk’ for employees looking for companies with green credentials.  According to the Green Building Council of Australia’s Dollars and Sense report, 66.6 per cent of business managers believe that renting or owning a green building has helped them to attract and retain employees.  This is reinforced by a Bond University online staff survey, in which 93 per cent of employees said it was important to work in a green office.

But here’s the rub: people are suspicious of “greenwashing”.  The majority (68%) of all adults in the US, for example, think that most companies say they are more environmentally friendly than they actually are.  This sentiment does not change widely by age, gender or geography, with all major demographics closely agreeing that “greenwashing” is a reality in today’s workplace.

So, think carefully about which policies can accurately demonstrate your company’s green credentials.  This may mean teleworking, it may mean green office space, actively encouraging car pooling, matching donations to green causes, or giving employees time off to volunteer for environmental causes.  Or it may mean something completely different.  What ever it is, make sure your policies are authentic and that you can ‘walk your talk’.

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Turning blue collars green

A CSIRO report predicts a carbon emissions trading scheme will require three million workers to be trained or re-skilled by 2015.

The report, which has also been prepared for the Australian Conservation Foundation says bold steps will be needed to ensure overall employment growth is not endangered by emissions trading.

But it has also found that a scheme could lead to an increase in employment rather than job losses.  In fact, if the Australian Government succeeds in re-skilling the workforce, an emissions trading scheme could lead to an increase in employment by as much as three million jobs by 2015.

That’s only seven years away.  There’ll be new opportunities for people, but we need to ensure we have the infrastructure and education in place to help turn these blue collars green.

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Helping your office go green

I received an email last week from a member of the Julia Ross team, who wondered whether “a more sustainable workplace, one that encourages and provides facilities for little things like recycling, increases morale amongst employees, leading of course to higher productivity”?

We already know indoor gardens can improve the atmosphere of the workplace and act as a motivating factor for employees.  It makes sense that ensuring your whole office is green is going to provide a positive sense of putting back to the planet.

There are some very simple things that we can each do.

It’s important to remember that most IT equipment must be unplugged or switched off at the wall before it stops consuming electricity.  It is estimated that unused devices in standby mode account for up to 40 percent of the average energy bill.

For example, even a PC that has been shut down continues to draw power – it must be switched off at the wall before it stops using electricity. Additionally, many monitors must be powered off independently of the computer before they can truly be considered ‘off.’

In general, all computer peripherals will use power when they remain plugged into a live outlet. The main offenders are modems, printers and photocopiers. However anything that requires power to operate usually counts, such as laptop docking stations.

While technologically driven solutions will be a major enabler of environmental management solutions in the future, technology itself can be a large consumer of electricity and needs to be carefully managed today.

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