Six ways managers can drive sustainability in the workplace

TJ’s popular contributor Gemma Hart returns this month to explore the value of sustainability to organisations.

Sustainability isn’t just a trending topic, it’s an urgent issue. Reports estimate that by 2025 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Reports keep flooding in of plastic pollution, deforestation, and extreme weather patterns all resulting from our misuse of the planet.

Consumers and employees alike want to connect with companies that are on the front foot when it comes to social responsibility and environmental purpose. HR Managers play a significant role in making sure this happens. 

Reviewing workplace practices

Companies grow by undergoing reviews on a regular basis. Reviews are a great opportunity for employers and managers to look at the inner workings of their company and review any processes that are not in line with their sustainability goals.

Any aspects of the company that are not up to scratch must be highlighted and addressed by the HR manager. Changes must then be implemented and communicated effectively with the workforce.

Provide the tools people need

More often than not, sustainability starts with small, simple changes. If you want to stimulate change within the workplace, you need to provide the tools employees need to be more sustainable. Generally speaking, the easier it is for people to take part in sustainable practices, the more successful they will be.

A great example of this is placing recycling bins in convenient places around the office so that paper, brochures, forms, and reports can be quickly and effectively recycled. The easier you make new sustainable processes, the more uptake you will have. You can find 20 fantastic recycling tips for your business here.

The easier it is for people to take part in sustainable practices, the more successful they will be

Be transparent about sustainability

Transparency is particularly important to consumers and potential employees. People want to know that your company is doing everything it can to work sustainably and care for the planet.

As such, it can be extremely helpful to share your sustainability goals with potential employees as part of the recruiting process. The more transparent, the better. People like to feel they are joining something exciting and with a larger mission than themselves. Sharing new initiatives in this way is a great way to get everyone involved and passionate about working towards a common purpose.

Communicate clearly with all teams

HR managers are great at many things and one of these is communication. Effective communication is essential for running a successful business. HR managers engage in the crucial aspect of internal communications, keeping employees updated on any changes around the office, new practices, and issues.

Communicating clearly with all teams about new sustainability measures is a great way to engage people and get them on board. This could involve reminders to switch off the lights before leaving work or keeping employees updated with a company-wide newsletter highlighting the eco-achievements of both employees and the company. Change starts with effective communication and sharing new sustainability measures effectively with your team can have a positive impact on the workforce by encouraging long-term change.


Offer training and education opportunities

Lack of knowledge is a huge factor in the slow uptake of sustainable efforts, whether in the workplace or at home. Despite its importance, many people do not realise just how serious the problem is.  

As such, providing training and educating your team is essential if you want to drive sustainability in the workplace.  Employees at all levels of an organisation must be equipped with the skills and education to make positive changes for the betterment of both the business and the wider world.

Motivate employees with rewards

“Getting praised for your work creates a feeling that what you are doing is valuable and has meaning […] Everyone wants to feel good about their work and what they are doing, and a well-designed rewards program helps accomplish that.” – Chron

Sometimes, all people need is a little motivation. After all, it can be hard to break old habits. Providing rewards that recognise the efforts of individuals and/or teams is a great way to engage and motivate your workforce.

Rewards show your employees that you are serious about sustainability and dedicated to bettering the planet with the help of your team. Rewarding positive efforts and forward-thinking employees is a great way to engage wider teams and see a faster uptake on new changes.

What’s more, by encouraging sustainable change within the workplace, employees can feel driven to alter their behaviours outside of work, thus benefiting the wider community.

Final words

Cultivating a more sustainable business can help drive employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention. It is no secret that potential recruits and consumers are attracted to companies that can successfully meet their needs without compromising the health of the planet.

By implementing sustainable practices within your organisation, you are showing others how much you care. This will set your business up for success as you trailblaze into a sustainable future.


About the author

Gemma Hart is an education and career consultant and can be contacted at


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