Beyond the Bin

16 May

Human Resources and SustainabilitySaving one paper cup may not seem to make much of a difference, but it could if an entire company began to think differently.

An effective sustainability program requires more than lecturing employees about conserving water and turning off their computers on weekends. Companies need to involve both the leadership and workers without getting preachy. Here’s how human resource managers can lead the charge.

Engage younger workers. It’s not ageism, it’s just that Generation Y-ers are typically more aware of sustainability efforts. Conduct brainstorming sessions to figure out the best ways to go green.

It may seem obvious, but placing recycling bins in places where people generate the most trash – next to the printer, in the kitchen area and near garbage cans – boosts the likelihood that they’ll use them.

If the company stocks the kitchenette with plastic utensils, consider petitioning to get real silverware, plates, glasses and mugs. Instead of t-shirts, pass out travel mugs at the next company event.

Start a biking club or a corporate garden. Offer educational programs on composting or gardening. Or create incentives for your employees by linking bonuses to environmental metrics.

And don’t forget to look inward. Are you still using paper forms? Try going electronic and use software that can easily make it possible to submit web-based forms for any HR transaction, including performance appraisals.

What are some other ways to make a sustainability program effective? What challenges have you faced when getting employees on board with a recycling program?

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