For any business, the primary concerns of management should go beyond profits, including how the public perceives you and how seriously you take your social responsibility. After all, the better you look to potential customers, the more likely they are to shop with you. The best way to elevate your standing with the community is to give back through volunteer work, giving money to a charity, or by enacting policies that promote environmentalism and sustainability.
The idea of going green is certainly nothing new, but businesses sometimes shy away from making changes because they think it will hurt their bottom line.
If you own a business or are someone in a position to talk to management about becoming more sustainable, you need to persuade shareholders and management by explaining all of the perks that being environmentally responsible can provide for your business. This includes creating happier and safer employees while also saving some money in the long run.
Save Money With Employee Perks
While you are encouraging the higher-ups or shareholders to become more sustainable, remind them of the one perk that will always get their attention: saving money. And if you can pair cost savings with happier employees, then you are really onto something. Here are a few initiatives to consider.
One significant change that can make a huge difference is having your employees work remotely. If doing so works for your business, permitting employees from working from home can save money on energy expenses while also cutting down on resources, including the purchase of office supplies, furniture, and janitorial equipment.
Having just one employee work remotely can save a business $10,000 per person per year. When employees aren’t driving to work, they are also cutting down on pollution.
A lot of companies may not have a big emphasis on recycling, but enacting simple changes can help the environment and save money in the budget. For instance, think about how many styrofoam coffee cups you buy for employees which are thrown away after each use. Styrofoam is a harmful substance that sits in landfills, depletes the ozone layer, and can even leak into our food.
Instead, give all employees a reusable coffee cup that they refill every day. You can even add your company logo for some free marketing. Also, placing recycling bins around the office and encouraging their use is an easy change that can make a big difference.
Create a Safe Working Environment
Another step to a more sustainable company is to improve your office building, especially when it comes to asbestos. Often used in construction materials within older buildings, asbestos can be dangerous when inhaled, often leading to major health concerns such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. Getting rid of asbestos will lead to healthier employees, and employees who don’t get sick are less likely to sue when they find out that the issue could have been prevented.
Asbestos can also be released into the environment, which is a PR situation you badly want to avoid. Since OSHA regulates the use of asbestos, it is wise to modify your building so it is no longer used, and if it absolutely cannot be avoided, train your employees about the risks associated with exposure.
Yes, the idea of having to shut down your business to retrofit the building to eliminate health risks can be daunting, but it may not be the end of the world, especially if you are covered by business property insurance.
In addition to protections for theft of property and inventory damages, property insurance often includes income lost during repairs, which could mitigate the costs. Your company may also be able to apply for government grants if you decide to undergo a large project to make a healthier workplace.
Update the Office
There are plenty of other improvements that you can make around the office that will make your business more sustainable. Not only will these changes save you money, but customers will feel good when they learn that they are doing business with a clean company. A few simple changes include:
- Using energy-efficient light bulbs
- Saving paper by converting to electronic filing
- Lowering the air conditioning a few degrees
There are also more ambitious design changes that your office can make, including opening up the workspace and installing more windows so employees can be exposed to natural light, which is less harsh and cuts costs on lighting during the day. You can even suggest efficient toilets and urinals that will conserve water.
The fact is that there are many different ways that your company can be more sustainable, and when you present the facts, the benefits speak for themselves. Disclose the perks and the benefits of having an environmentally friendly business and become the hero of the next board meeting.