6 Green Tips for Employers of Frontline Workers

6 Green Tips for Employers of Frontline Workers

22 April 2022

Employee experience | News & Trends

Haaappy Earth Day! For those not familiar with it, Earth Day (22nd April) has been in the calendar since 1970, and is a day which celebrates taking action in the name of protecting the planet we live on.

These are not just festivities for tree-huggers. Previous Earth Days have led to the passing of landmark environmental laws including the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts, the establishment of the EPA and the Paris Climate Agreement. 1 billion people in more than 193 countries are getting involved this year, including many businesses who are stepping up and pledging to reduce their environmental impact.

The case for employers of frontline workers to be more eco-conscious is not only environmental. Millennials will make up the vast majority of the workforce soon, and a survey found that the majority of them want to work for a company that's environmentally responsible, even if it meant earning less! In the current hiring crisis, demonstrating a commitment to sustainable and eco-friendly business practices is a brilliant way to attract job seekers to your organization.

This blog post will offer some inspiration as to how your organization can do your bit to go a little greener. 


Cut email and paper waste

We’re all familiar with the concept of trying to use less paper in order to reduce the amount of trees being cut down. What you may not be so well-versed in is the environmental case for using email less. 

Using technology to communicate is unavoidable for businesses in 2022. But tools which streamline communication cut down on back-and-forth messaging which has a huge environmental impact via carbon emissions.

If every person in the UK alone sent one fewer email a day, it would save 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year - the same as 81,152 flights from London to Madrid. Using communication tools with all the information in one place reduces the chance that information will get lost and need to be sent multiple times, means ending fewer emails back and forth, and avoids using countless paper forms.

By implementing a streamlined communication tool, retail giant SMCP Group saves 10,000 sheets of paper per year, and cosmetics retailer Lancôme sends 500x fewer emails between field and HQ teams.


Make greener choices easy

You can influence people towards greener choices using Nudge Theory: the idea that you can shape an environment to influence the likelihood that one option is chosen over another by individuals.

If you shape the workplace environment to make the greener choice easy or appealing, more people will choose it. You can do things like:

  • Reimburse employees for using public transport to get to work, or put a cycle to work scheme in place. Additionally, you could start a car-share incentive and reward employees for giving colleagues a lift to work by paying for their petrol.
  • Provide plant-based snacks in staff rooms. 
  • Install motion-sensor lighting or energy-saving lightbulbs.
  • Stock cleaning supplies with eco-friendly cleaning products.
  • Restaurants and QSRs can offer non-dairy milk for tea and coffee at no extra cost or higher employee discounts on plant-based meals.

Re-think stock wastage

Many fashion retailers are setting up re-sale systems for pre-loved garments to be sold on, but there are many other ways for all retail and hospitality brands to reduce stock waste. Ikea recently set up a buy back service, where customers can trade in their old furniture for store credit. Grocery stores, restaurants and QSRs can make use of apps like To Good To Go, where food stock which is close to expiration can be listed for customers to collect same-day for a dramatically reduced price.


Create a workforce of expert recyclers

People are bad at recycling. Research in the U.S. found that only 29% of PET plastic bottles are collected for recycling, and of this, only 21% of the bottles are actually made into recycled materials due to contamination. When a recycling stream is contaminated, either with non-recyclable material, the wrong kind of recyclable material, or leftover food residue, often the entire load has to be sent to landfill.

Ensure that your teams are trained in how to recycle effectively and receive regular refreshers. This only needs to take a few minutes and can be delivered in an interactive microlearning format, but this few minutes of regular training will go a long way for the planet.

Related: Microlearning Examples: 7 Ideas to Elevate Your Workplace Training


Go remote for audits

Avoid unnecessary travel by conducting site visits remotely. You can do this using a digital workplace app to complete compliance checklists, submit photos and assign action plans. This avoids racking up your organization's carbon footprint with excessive car, train or plane trips.

It’s not just the planet that wins, the virtual approach also saves time and money - restaurant kiosk chain Hana Group were able to reduce the time spent preparing for inspection visits by 30% by conducting these visits remotely! Similarly, TFG cut travel expenses by 11% by conducting site visits virtually through a digital workplace app.


Remember that less is more

The less packaging and disposable materials your teams use on the job, the better. Retailers should minimize packaging and offer reusable bags for purchases where possible, or better, encourage people to bring their own bags or containers! Restaurants can do the same with packaging for takeaway food or leftovers. Using recyclable materials for packaging, uniforms and even the furniture and construction of company locations embeds sustainability into the literal framework of your company.

Investing in the planet and investing in your workforce can and should go hand in hand. Creating a better frontline employee experience through greener choices is the business differentiator that both your organization and the earth need in 2022. 🌍