Is ‘going green’ worth the effort for an SME?

18th Apr 2018

Environmental issues, as they should be, are very much back on the agenda now – thanks in part to the hugely successful Blue Planet series on television.

And I’m guessing that everyone reading this will have a concern about our collective impact on the planet and might be interested in trying to do their bit to help reduce their carbon footprint.

Large organisations often have a strategic CSR plan – and a department to support the initiatives – however in SMEs, introducing ‘green’ initiatives is left to a few managers who already have full-time jobs to do. However, making a difference is easier than you might think, and an eco-friendly approach delivers sound business benefits, as well easing our ethical consciences.

Applying green processes to the workplace not only creates a healthy environment for employees but reduces unnecessary waste and cost and positions you as a business who is keen to embrace social change. Here are just a few of the benefits a greener approach could bring to your organisation.

Improving your public relations

Show that you are working to be more environmentally friendly and you will find favour with customers for whom it’s important.

Make sure you talk about the measures you are taking in your communications. You could develop an environmental stance paragraph that you include in all your promotional material. Ensure that you use clearly marked recycled stationery and promotional items made from recycled, organic, sustainable or ethically sourced materials.

Enhancing your bottom line

If you can reduce your energy use, you not only help the environment but save costs too. Simple steps like installing auto shut off lights and turning equipment to standby really help.  Label light switches so staff can just turn on the ones they need. Defrost fridges regularly. Unbelievably, taking these steps alone could save you 5% per annum on your energy bills – make sure you track your meter readings to measure the savings you are making. On a larger scale, the use of video conferencing instead of travelling to meetings saves both time and costs.  Remote working means less office space is needed. And regular servicing of machinery and equipment means they run more efficiently.

Reducing your level of absenteeism

According to the Fit for Work organisation, happy, healthy and empowered workers are more likely to perform better at their jobs, take fewer sick days, stay with an organisation longer, give better customer service and, ultimately, boost a company’s productivity.

Research has shown that among FTSE 100 companies, those who prioritise employee engagement and wellbeing outperform the rest of the FTSE 100 by 10 percent.

But how can an SME address this? Well, examples of how to promote a healthy workplace include offering wholesome food choices in the canteen or arranging for fresh fruit to be available. Using environmentally friendly industrial and cleaning products can help employees who suffer from respiratory conditions, and you could offer support for employees who wish to give up smoking.

What about the Cycle to Work scheme? – a UK Government tax exemption initiative introduced to promote healthier journeys to work and to reduce environmental pollution. It allows employers to loan cycles and cyclists’ safety equipment to employees as a tax-free benefit.

Meeting your customers’ demands

The customer demand for green products has reached a tipping point. In research at the end of 2016 by YouGov, more than half of UK consumers stated that they would feel “much more positive” about a company that has reduced the carbon footprint of its products.

Environmentally conscious consumers check labels for products and packaging made from recycled materials. And the market share for green products has continued to expand across many industry sectors. Companies can tap into this market by offering more green products and services.

With the current focus on one-use plastic, we are sure it is only a matter of time before we see more recycled cardboard replacing plastic in food packaging and the disappearance of plastic straws and cotton buds. This will be driven by consumer demand.

If you’d like to discuss how PDS can help in your efforts to become greener, give us a call. And do share your own ideas – what steps has your organisation taken to create a greener, healthier workplace?

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