Don’t abandon your green policy when recession bites

Going green has steadily made its way to the top of the political agenda in recent years, with government’s throughout the world being forced to wake up to the realities of global warming and climate change. But while we’re all being encouraged to do our bit for the environment, it seems that some employers have shelved their green initiatives until the economic storm blows over in a bid to cut costs. Yet those who don’t abandon their green initiatives will not only help save the planet but save money in the long term too.

Suppose you could save your company £6,000 by doing something as simple as flicking the ‘off’ switch on all electrical equipment at the end of every working week, would you do it? That’s how much money the average company in Wales could save every year for minimum effort, according to the Carbon Trust.

Still, too many companies opt for the seemingly quick-fix alternative during testing economic conditions of slashing marketing budgets combined with the inevitable wave of jobs cuts. And in their haste to save money in the short term organisations will actually end up spending more in the long term.

Indeed, Sir Nicholas Stern, the man who penned the UK’s climate change footprint, The Stern Review, said:

“For every £1 invested now we can save £5, or possibly more, by acting now.”

Cost savings aside, 82% of consumers say they would be more likely to buy from a company who share their environmental and ethical concerns, so from a commercial, branding and reputation standpoint the decision to go green is a no-brainer. But from a recruitment perspective, the same statistic applies.

Newly qualified graduates are increasingly favouring organisations with a clear environmental and social responsibility agenda as their employer of choice, while those already employed within organisations that already have green agenda in place say that this creates a feel-good factor within their workplace, thereby encouraging staff retention and by default, recruitment.

Your staff are your biggest asset and it is they who are key to the whole process of greening your business. Get them involved in the decision making proves from the beginning, keeping them involved and informed at every stage of the process. And as HR’s it is critical that you lead from the front – making sure you ‘walk the talk’ and practice what you preach.

Clichés aside, you need to start the ball rolling somewhere. Get going a staff suggestion box or send an internal email to all staff asking for their ideas. Ask for volunteers to set up a company ‘Environmental Taskforce’ who will be responsible for collating suggestions and implementing new ideas across the company.

Start with something that most of us already do in our homes, such as recycling waste paper and moving towards a paperless office, switching off lights when not needed, changing your coffee to organic and replacing plastic cups with reuseable glasses.

And once your staff begin to accept this as the norm introduce other initiatives that aim to reduce energy consumption, such as shutting down computers as opposed to leaving them on stand-by, recycle ink cartridges, car sharing schemes, keeping the speed below 60mph and replacing all lighting with energy saving alternatives…the list goes on.

Once you start you will be surprised at what you can achieve and the dramatic impact that small changes can make to your bottom line and the environment but, the main thing to remember when introducing a green policy is that a carrot works better than a stick. Make sure your staff buy-into what you are trying to achieve and let them feel part of the change not simply acting out some new directive.

Did you know?

  • If every office worker in the UK wasted just one less staple, we’d save 120 tonnes of steel every year
  • Turning off the lights at night can reduce your company’s annual energy bill by up to 19%
  • Leaving one computer on stand-by all night will produce 1,500 pounds of CO2 every year and cost you 78% more than it would cost if you simply turned it off every night
  • Over 30 million inkjet cartridges are discarded every year.

For more information, see:

Envirowise www.envirowise.gov.uk

Fair-trade www.fairtrade.org.uk

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About yourcareermatters
CareerMatters was founded as part of MacKenzie-Cummins Communications in 2006 by Paul MacKenzie-Cummins MICG (Member Institute of Careers Guidance), regarded as one of the UK's leading career's advice and guidance writers and specialist PR consultant for the UK recruitment industry. Since 2006 Paul has been the leading advice writer for Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com - the two biggest careers website in the world -tackling all aspects of workplace and management issues, job seeking, career change and hiring trends. In 2006, 2007 and 2008 his writing contributed to Monster winning the Best Employment Advice on the Internet Award for an unprecedented three times beating the likes of The Guardian, Learn Direct and Personnel Today on each occasion. And his work was a runner-up for the same award in 2009. In 2009 Paul was a nominee in the prestigious HR Journalist of the Year Award and Recruitment, Retention & Motivation Journalist of the Year Award. Paul has been commissioned to write more than 500 careers advice and guidance articles for a number of lpublications, from regional and national newspapers to industry publications and various career-specific websites in the UK and USA. Recently, Paul was the Technical Editor for career psychologist Dr Rob Yeung's Job Hunting & Career Change for Dummies (John Wiley & Son, 2007). Dr Yeung is better known as the TV psychologist for Channel 4's Big Brother and the BBC's Who Would Hire You? series. Clients include: Monster.com CareerBuilder.com MSN Careers (Europe) TheLadders TotalJobs SalesTarget.co.uk IntaPeople Recruitment Lifetracks/YouthNET MediaSalesJobs The Press Gazette

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