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COP26: Implementing green initiatives in the workplace

04 January 2022 | Cecily Donoghue

The UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) took place in Glasgow in early November. But what does this have to do with your staff and workforce? We are seeing increasing trends towards tougher greener practices in the workplace, as well as (perhaps more interestingly) more green incentive initiatives.

Whilst your workplace may already be paper free, or working towards carbon neutral status, are you thinking further ahead and looking at how to attract, engage and retain a talented workforce via climate friendly initiatives?

Increasing social responsibility within the workplace

Not only is there greater pressure from public scrutiny and transparency, but staff themselves are expecting more from their employ. Over the last 20 months alone there have been growing trends in environmental, social and governance measures. The pandemic particularly and the context that it created, along with the Black Lives Matter movement and extreme weather events have all highlighted employee activism and greater social responsibility within the workplace – certainly more so now than ever before.

Ways to incorporate greener innovations among your workforce

Pressure from key stakeholders may also be driving incentive based green initiatives, but whatever the source of this impetus, what are the ways that businesses can consider greener innovation among your workforce:

  • Incentives and reward – the increased scrutiny of remuneration arrangements (particularly those of directors) are leading some company bonus plans to now have some element of green targets. Can your directors or senior leadership team have greener or more sustainable based key performance indicators? Whilst such targets may be difficult to quantify or to set specific measures, these can still form part of a range of wider incentives particularly in relation to mitigating health and safety risks, climate change, but also ethics and skills development.
  • The commute – the increase in hybrid and working from home arrangements have helped to reduce staff commute times and/or frequency and this can help reduce the carbon footprint of work-related travel. However, your business could also consider cycle to work schemes, carpooling, electric cars etc.
  • Business travel – whilst significantly reduced due to the pandemic, do you also wish to consider potentially more sustainable ways of travel?
  • If your business has a café or canteen – then consider whether this serves locally sourced or meat free options.
  • Reward staff with vouchers to purchase eco-friendly goods – this will also help to encourage staff to make more sustainable choices.
  • Pensions – this is another area where there has been a push for climate conscious investment and disclosure by the scheme and trustees of the various sources of investment. This may be a concern for staff, so do discuss further with the trustees.

Benefits of a sustainable workplace

Not only are staff pushing for their employers to make more green initiatives in the workplace, but such measures are good for business too. It could help to boost recruitment efforts, increase positive reputations, improve employee satisfaction and therefore talent retention. This all makes green incentivisation certainly something for businesses to consider – if not now, then in the near future.

Expert legal advice for employers

If you would like to discuss implementing green initiatives in the workplace, or if you have any queries please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team. Please contact Cecily Donoghue or Nick Jones by calling 0117 906 9400 or email hello@gl.law. Alternatively, please complete our contact form.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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