Why Eco-Awareness Should Reach New Corporate Heights in 2019

Companies and organizations are adopting greener, cleaner, and more sustainable corporate social responsibility (CSR) models. Adopting CSR policies and philosophies means more profits, attracting millennial employees and consumers, and helping the planet.

Sustainability

To better attract the millennial workforce, companies need to become eco-aware and adopt policies and procedures toward that end. Millennials perceive older generations as having destroyed the environment in the name of profits. As priorities of the millennial generation change, CSR policies, budgets, and job positions to support the policies, are being adopted. Attracting millennials means showing that, as a company, you care about helping the environment.

This can be as simple as using energy-efficient devices, such as LED light bulbs instead of fluorescent, or installing solar panels on your building to generate your own power. In the short run, these measures will cost the company. However, LED bulbs can last for years and solar panels will pay for themselves. Aside from attracting a younger generation of workers, there are tangible, financial benefits to going green and sustainable.

Hospitals

As an example, let’s look at hospitals. Hospitals in 2014 generated 5,500 tons of waste per day, or 2 million tons per year. Because of this, half of healthcare professionals have started to incorporate sustainability as a factor into decision-making processes, and about 80 wanted to begin incorporating sustainability as a factor in the near future.

According to Healthcare Finance News, waste produced by hospitals has increased to 4.67 million tons per year, and hospitals emit 8 percent of the country’s greenhouse gasses. In order to combat this, hospitals are going green.

Many are going paperless, taking electronic health records online or, as mentioned, turning to LED lightbulbs. The Cleveland Clinic, Healthcare Finance News points out, is using locally manufactured LED bulbs to not only put money back into the community, but save an estimated $3 million per year when the retrofitting project is complete.

Employees

There are more benefits to going green than just attracting a younger generation and saving money on energy bills.

Take the Patagonia clothing company. Because they are well known for their green initiatives, such as paying employees to bike to work instead of using fossil-fuel-eating cars, job-seeking site Monster points out that they receive as many as 900 applications per job posting. The company made a clear commitment to sustainability, cementing its political position after withdrawing from a trade show in 2017. Patagonia did so after Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a resolution disputing an act by President Obama that created a national park and calling on the Trump administration to reverse the decision.

A UCLA-led study notes that companies that voluntarily adopt green policies enjoy employees who are 16 percent more productive than the average worker.

The study also uses the Santa Monica Ambrose Hotel, which opened in 2003 with a clean, green mindset already in place. In 2006, after additional green policies — such as switching to non-toxic, green cleaning products — were put in place, housekeeping staff reported fewer headaches and allergies. A water conservation program reduced the water bill by 26 percent.

In short, adhering to green, eco-friendly policies can can help improve job satisfaction, which in turn increases employee retention. When prospective employees see high job retention, it gives them confidence that they are applying to a job that doesn’t just pay lip service to policies or its employees.

Consumers

Sustainability initiatives don’t only increase loyalty in employees, however, but consumers, as well. In 2014, Nielsen reported that 55 percent of global online consumers were willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that had committed to providing a positive social and environmental impact. In America, the number was 42 percent. The Network for Business Sustainability reported in 2013 that customers would pay up to 10 percent more for green products, such as organic, fair trade, or made from recycled content.  

Nielsen also found that responsible practices such as using eco-friendly packaging could affect whether a consumer purchases a product or not. Globally, 62 percent of consumers consider the packaging, checking labels before making a purchase. In North America, the number is only about 32 percent.

Half of the respondents to Nielsen’s survey were millennials. As a group, they represented 51 percent of those who would pay extra for sustainable products, as well as 51 percent of those who checked packaging for sustainable labeling before making a purchase.

Taking the policies outside the company and working with the community also builds goodwill, which can pay back dividends. For every dollar donated to community products, NBS found sales increased an average of $6.

A company considering implementing eco-friendly policies in 2019 will be able to enjoy many benefits. By following through on the policies, the company can attract millennial workers, and improve employee retention while increasing productivity. Consumers are also more likely to pay extra for products that have been sustainably made and are correctly labeled as using sustainable packaging.

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