Part of the role of HR professionals is implementing meaningful initiatives. They can be a powerful tool to support causes, build company culture and improve an organisation’s reputation. One of these causes is sustainability. In an increasingly socially conscious world, more people cite it as an important factor in their lives. This can also extend into their workplace.

Research shows that employee activism is having a significant impact on sustainability initiatives. 35% of respondents are seeing an impact, and 45% said an impact will likely occur in the near future. With April being the month of Earth Day, this blog covers the importance of these initiatives. We will also share some tips for HR professionals looking to leverage the power of sustainability this month and beyond.

What does sustainability look like in the workplace?

Sustainability in the workplace covers a range of practices with a focus on reducing environmental impact. These can include everything from energy-efficient technologies to waste-reduction strategies. Sustainability focuses on minimising a business’s carbon footprint. For HR professionals, it’s important to find ways to reach these goals whilst supporting a positive work-life balance and well-being. One way to achieve this is by embracing flexible working. Hybrid working practices can reduce the emissions – and costs – of commuting and running an office. For in-person settings, eco-friendly office design and paper-free systems are a great way to commit to sustainability.

Driving employee satisfaction with sustainability

At the heart of any organisation is its employees. They keep the business running, so maintaining their satisfaction is vital. So, as the focus on social responsibility increases, it factors into this. But, when surveyed, 45% of employees said they had never spoken to an employer or manager about environmental concerns.

Sustainability poses a significant boost to how happy people are at work. A staggering 88% of employees believe that businesses should have a positive social impact. So, as an HR professional, it’s important to encourage an open discourse between employees and management to drive progress. One way this can be achieved is by sending out surveys or organising group discussions. These not only generate ideas but foster a culture of listening and continuous improvement.

Employee satisfaction through sustainability isn’t just important for current employees. It can also be a powerful hiring tool. Broadcasting your environmental commitments can set you apart from other employers. When surveyed, 73% of employees said that they would be more likely to accept a job offer from a more sustainable company.

Increased engagement

Employee engagement is a critical aspect of organisational success. It drives productivity and supports a good company culture. Sustainability initiatives can play a significant role in boosting engagement by creating a sense of purpose and connection. It also affirms that the business understands the personal values of its employees and aligns with them. With shared values, the workplace feels like a team outside of daily tasks.

Financial incentives for social responsibility

Brand reputation impacts potential clients’ and investors’ perception of your business. When surveyed, 25% of consumers and 22% of investors have a “zero tolerance” policy for businesses with questionable ethical policies. Some sustainability initiatives can also save the business money. Going paperless and conserving resources like water and electricity will reduce costs in the long run.

To reap the benefits of your sustainability initiatives, share your successes in newsletters and social media updates. Showcase ‘sustainability champions’ and recognise those doing great environmental work in your workforce. This also fosters a sense of genuine care for the cause.

Sustainability initiatives for HR professionals

In any social initiative, it’s important to plan for the long term. One-off, showy initiatives can come across as disingenuous, having a negative impact on your reputation. So, make sure to evaluate the resources and time needed to make your initiatives truly sustainable for your team.

One long-term initiative that HR professionals can consider is a cycle-to-work scheme. It encourages employees to do something better for their health and the planet. To make this more inclusive, try subsidised public transport. Commuting in a petrol car emits up to four times more emissions than travelling on the train or bus, but rising ticket costs can put people off. By introducing financial incentives for public transport, you are supporting both your team and the planet.

Another way you can publicly support the cause of sustainability is with certifications. The International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) is a great place to start. They offer courses with internationally recognised certifications in environmentally conscious business practices. Equipping key leadership members with these qualifications shows a true commitment to sustainable management.

Throughout the month of Earth Day, let’s recognise the impact of sustainability initiatives on HR success. By leveraging Earth Day as a springboard for sustainability efforts, HR professionals can enhance employee engagement, attract top talent, and strengthen corporate reputation. Through thoughtful integration of green practices, organisations can drive positive change and contribute to a more sustainable future—for both their people and the planet.