More and more businesses are striving for sustainability in their practices knowing it will help to attract top employees, but this can seem like a complex task to take on. There’s an increasing pressure on businesses when it comes to creating a winning workplace culture and balancing it with corporate responsibility. 

While no single individual or company can stop climate change, every step we take towards a greener future can have a significant impact on the environment. With today’s applicants ranking workplace culture high on their job wish-list, companies are taking a more proactive approach towards environmentally-friendly processes. They are busy developing a workplace culture centered around sustainability to map out a more positive future and ethical workplace for all. 

What is a sustainability culture?

A sustainability culture is the set of assumptions and beliefs that the members of an organisation share about its goals and values, which influence how the business operates. From a sustainability perspective, this means getting everyone in the company on board to support the company’s efforts. Staff will be mindful of what management is doing and interpret those actions, so developing a culture that the whole business takes part in starts from the top and filters down. 

sustainability culture
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Define clear objectives

Before you can create a sustainability plan, you need to assess where your business is at now and define what you want to achieve. How big is the ecological footprint of your company? Which departments are producing the most waste? Where can processes be improved to really make a difference? Don’t sugarcoat the answers to difficult questions. You need to start from an honest overview in order to really make changes. By looking inward first, you can identify the areas that are having the biggest effect on your sustainability efforts and work towards unified goals from there. 

Develop the infrastructure to do better

A business that has the infrastructure in place to make better decisions can encourage staff much more effectively to change up their practices. If staff see the management investing in technologies and equipment to reduce their carbon footprint, it will inspire them to do better too. From installing renewable energy sources that will reduce reliance on the grid and bring utility costs down, to having plenty of recycling points around the office or using eco-friendlier third parties and suppliers, there’s plenty businesses can do to invest in a more sustainable way of working. 

Engage in communication

Internal communications need to be an active part of your sustainability culture, highlighting what it means for your business and how staff play a role in achieving company-wide goals. This can be through case studies and interviews, distributed through newsletters or intranet articles, or via print media around the workplace. By keeping the conversation going, sustainability remains at the forefront of everyone’s minds and is something that everyone remembers that they’re working towards when they come into work each day. 

Embed sustainability into decisions

Decision-making is a critical aspect of any business, and while it’s never an easy process, it can become more complicated when you factor in sustainability. But it needs to be integrated into the key decisions of the business in order for your company to make positive changes. 

There are digital tools, methodologies and systems available to support sustainability decisions, but it’s also important that staff make a business case using an integrative approach. Consider how sustainability impacts every part of your business, from corporate strategies and performance goals to managerial processes and operations, so that you can make decisions that support rather than hinder your objectives. 

Create employee programmes

Every company is different and will be starting from a different point, but what will be a constant regardless of industry or specialism is the ability to utilise staff to make changes. While it’s true that many of the major decisions need to come from the top, it’s also a fact that staff play a crucial role in how a business operates. So, effectively communicate and get them involved, to accelerate your desired changes. 

Developing employee programmes to champion sustainability in the workplace will not only help to raise awareness of sustainability but it also makes it easier for staff to integrate their knowledge into their daily actions and share it with others too. From team volunteering days to competitions or suggestion boxes where staff can put forward their ideas for positive change, there are various ways that you can get employees to help out to create a happier, more engaged team that prioritises sustainability. 

Key takeaways

Sustainability is something that businesses can’t avoid any longer and customers and clients are increasingly looking for businesses who are striving to do better in this area. Developing a sustainability culture means that the responsibility is shared throughout the business, and it also ensures that your company can do more across the board in every facet of the company for bigger strides and a more positive impact.