World Environment Day – why going green is good for employee engagement
Established in 1974, World Environment Day was created by the United Nations as part of a global effort to drive environmental action. It covers everything from global warming to sustainable consumption with millions of people getting involved in the initiative every year, including many from the worldwide business community.
This year’s theme is air pollution and the key focus for the day – which always falls on June 5 – will be on what changes can be made to reduce air pollution, which in turn can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and benefit people’s health.
It’s already been reported that more and more organisations are ‘going green’ and investing in things such as renewable energy and energy efficiency schemes as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies. And studies have suggested that there are huge financial benefits for those companies that do it well, with one piece of research suggesting that around $12tn could be unlocked by 2030 in business savings and revenue for those companies adopting sustainable, low-carbon business models.
But the benefits go beyond just the bottom line. The data we collect as part of our Best Companies annual rankings suggests there is a strong positive relationship between Giving Something Back and the overall level of engagement.
Over the past 20 years that we’ve been working with companies to help them create a better workplace, we’ve also seen a number of interesting changes in company behaviour. One of these has been an increased awareness of environmental impact, with 74 per cent of all organisations surveyed in 2019 implementing a cycle to work scheme and 71 per cent of our three-star organisations now clearly documenting their environmental policy.
At Best Companies, we recognise and celebrate the fantastic environmental policies the organisations we work with have adopted and, as part of this, for the past 17 years we have given a special award to accredited organisations. We call them our ‘Giving Something Back’ awards and in 2019, the winners were Vodafone Ltd, Moneypenny, La Fosse Associates Ltd and Touchstone.
Here are some of the key policies they’ve put in place to help inspire your thinking as we celebrate World Environment Day in 2019.
Vodafone is one of the UK’s largest providers of telecommunications services and are part of the wider Vodafone group – the world’s second-largest mobile phone company.
In 2019, Vodafone was in the Top 10 of the 25 listed Best Big Companies to work for and were awarded our special ‘Giving Something Back’ award in the same category. The company implemented a number of forward-thinking initiatives that really highlighted its commitment to protecting the planet.
This includes the launch of the Vodafone Keep Cup Initiative that saw 13,000 reusable cups gifted to UK employees, driving an immediate increase in re-use of 20 per cent. This equates to the prevention of 150,000 single use cups being disposed of over a year. Vodafone has also committed to purchasing 100 per cent low carbon energy and have a direct purchase agreement with the operators of two wind turbines.
The company’s environmental plan has been guided and maintained by its Environment Ambassadors Group, which is made up of 154 employees, putting them at the heart of the firm’s CSR strategy. Vodafone also provide training for all employees with modules on Energy Awareness, Waste Management and Spill response.
“Vodafone is committed to creating a better future for all. We are a purpose led organisation, with global goals to improve 1 billion lives and halve our impacts on the environment. We have committed to purchasing 100% of our electricity from renewable sources and halving our greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. It is really important that we take our employees with us on this journey to a sustainable future, and this year for World Environment Day, we are launching a Green Travel promotion during which we will sponsor people to walk or cycle to work. Emission free travel is just one of the ways we can all help to improve our planet, and at Vodafone we want to make this as easy for our people as possible”
La Fosse Associates
La Fosse Associates is a firm specialising in recruiting technology, digital and change talent. It focuses on being a values-led business and strongly believe in the importance of giving something back to the community and wider society.
The company was listed in the Top 100 Small Companies to work for in 2019 and due to its strong values and principles, won the ‘Giving Something Back’ award in our Small Companies category. The firm has grown to over 200 employees, who all actively support the environmental initiatives put in place by the founder, Simon La Fosse.
La Fosse Associates operates as a carbon neutral organisation after purchasing 10 acres of land from the World Land Trust in South America. The aim was to help preserve and protect the threatened wilderness habitat and wildlife of the tropical forest.
A focus for the company was to empower employees to drive its green initiatives within the office, which has resulted in fantastic recycling options, a green dishwasher and increased take-up of the company’s cycle to work scheme. Within all its offices, the company uses energy-saving LED light bulbs and an open blind policy, as well as movement sensitive lighting in all meeting rooms.
Touchstone is a not-for-profit organisation working to support vulnerable adults with innovative services that improve health and wellbeing and are shaped by individual needs.
Touchstone were awarded our prestigious ‘Giving Something Back’ award in 2019 due to its continued and innovative approach to environmental policies. As part of every employee’s induction process, they are provided with an in-depth Environmental Policy that outlines the company’s commitment to environmental protection and provides examples of how it should be delivered.
Other policies include a cycle to work scheme that allows staff to buy bikes up to the value of £1,000 whilst also giving staff a cycling allowance of 20p per mile. In 2017-2018, Touchstone reported that 31 per cent of business miles claimed for were made by bicycle, avoiding the production of approximately 79kg of carbon dioxide. For staff who can’t cycle, they are provided with free bus passes under a pool MetroCard scheme.
Touchstone were one of the top 10 not-for-profit-organisations listed in our 100 Best Not-For Profit Organisations to work for 2019 and provides a fantastic example of how to maintain an engaged workforce through green initiatives.
As the world’s leading outsourced communications provider, Moneypenny are the biggest and fastest-growing company in its field. It prides itself on providing an engaged and happy working environment to ensure all employees are passionate and inspired.
Moneypenny is dedicated to making positive changes to the environment and has developed a plan to create a more sustainable workplace. This starts with its main building, which is designed to be as eco-friendly as possible. Rainwater recycling is used for toilet flushing and the drainage system has been designed to utilise the wetlands.
The employees at Moneypenny play a huge role in ensuring the business is continuing to make positive changes. The team came together to create a communal allotment in the grounds of the office, allowing them to produce fresh food which is shared amongst everyone in the offices. They have also committed to using fresh produce every day, resulting in less packaging and plastic. They recently introduced reusable coffee cups for employees, which involved the whole team voting on their favourite style.
The continued commitment from Moneypenny, who are listed highly in the Top 100 Best Companies to work for 2019, led to them being awarded the special ‘Giving Something Back Award’ for Mid Companies this year.
Ceri Henfrey, Head of Operations at Moneypenny said:
“At Moneypenny we are always looking at ways to help the environment and also give our people an amazing place to work with lots of fresh air and outside space. Every element of the design of the Moneypenny building reflects this from the 1,750 trees planted to preserving established trees, hedgerows and wetlands and the fruit trees including variety of apples, damsons, plums and black cherries.
All the tree and shrub species were chosen to provide fruit that can be put immediately into a communal fruit bowl and eaten. We also have a stunning wetlands area and as the weather has improved, we are taking our regular exercise classes outside such as Boot Camp outside and Pilates.”
At Best Companies, we are recognised as leaders in employee engagement and we know that when your employees are truly engaged, they’re happier, more productive and more invested in your organisation’s success. Implementing changes that support and promote a more environmentally friendly workplace is just one of many ways to ensure your employees feel engaged in the workplace.
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Find out more about World Environment Day.