2020 tied with 2016 as the hottest year on record as a result of human activities, according to NASA. Keeping business going during a pandemic has been front and centre this past year, but it’s possible that it’s distracted business leaders from another major crisis of our times – climate change. With a 2050 UK target for net-zero carbon omissions, ESG (Environmental Social and Corporate Governance) simply cannot be deprioritised. Businesses of all shapes and sizes, across all industries have an important role to play.
A recent Censuswide survey of UK workers revealed 72% of employees are concerned about workplace environmental ethics, further highlighting the need for businesses to align their values with those of their employees. Millennials and Gen Z’ers are particularly concerned, with 87% worried about the future of the planet. Organisations can expect to attract more loyal and committed employees if they listen to the concerns of potential candidates.
As World Earth Day approaches on the 22nd April, companies are urged to consider eco-friendly employee benefits and sustainable practices, including:
Offering remote and flexible working long term
This year, remote working has become the standard for many. Employers who wish to get the team back in the office on a permanent basis might experience push back from employees enamoured of the flexibility and convenience of homeworking – in fact, 57% want it to continue.
Homeworking doesn’t just promote a better work-life balance for some, it’s also better for the environment. With fewer people in the office at any one time, many businesses may find that they can downsize, cutting down on workspace and energy usage. It will also mean a reduction in people on the roads driving in to work. Team members that can work flexible hours might also be more inclined to take public transport over driving in at times when it’s not so crowded and overwhelming.
Cycle to work schemes
Cycle to Work Schemes are a good option for a team concerned about their carbon footprint. With benefits for both the physical and mental wellbeing of your team, cycling to work addresses lingering Covid commuting concerns, and it’s better for the environment. Cycle to Work schemes mean employees can find a bike they want but not have to pay for it in full upfront and instead spread the cost over several months. As more organisations adopt these schemes, the number of cars on the road will reduce.
Charity Salary Sacrifice
Recent research suggests the pandemic has made us all more altruistic with 56% of households giving to a charitable cause in 2020. Many people are concerned about the future of our natural world, but don’t know where to begin outside of recycling their rubbish and buying plastic-free.
Charity Salary Sacrifice gives employees the option to donate some of their paycheck each month to a cause of their choice, and there are a number of green charities championing projects aimed at tackling the environmental crisis.
Discounts on ethical brands
There are many ethical food, clothing companies – even utilities providers that employers can support through staff discount schemes. This will give team members the opportunity to purchase products from brands that are making meaningful changes.
Organisations can also ensure that supplies in the office are eco-friendly for those in-house perks. Little touches like organic local produce in the office for those companies that offer breakfast and snacks, to discouraging printing as a means to save paper.
Jamie Mackenzie, Director at Sodexo Engage, comments: “Climate change is a major concern for all of us and with a 2050 net-zero target for the UK, employers need to take action – it’s never too late, but it is pressing. Employees of today want their employers to share their values. We’ve seen the emergence of the purpose-driven workplace where organisations demonstrate understanding for their employees and their concerns. This new generation of candidates have grown up against the drumbeat of an escalating climate crisis and won’t settle for employers who show zero interest.
“There are many ways organisations can reduce their carbon footprint and revamping employee benefits is a great start. Updating an out-of-date benefits package will show both existing and potential employees that the business shares and cares about their values. Ultimately, a company that shows conscience is more likely to thrive and retain staff.”