How can employers ensure they get their stance on sustainability in the workplace correct?

Imogen Templeman
Imogen Templeman

Published: July 25th, 2023

7 min read

Sustainability is an increasingly important topic on the agenda for employers. Employees expect more from their employers in their approach to sustainability, beyond simply policies that are not followed in practice. When considering the challenges of the current recruitment market, it is clear Environmental Social and Governance factors (ESG) are key considerations when assessing employee benefits packages.

An employer who gets their stance correct on ESG will be better placed to compete in attracting and retaining the best talent in the market. In many cases, a company's stance on ESG will be an important factor when looking for a prospective employer.

However, interest in a company's stance on ESG goes beyond merely employee talent. This can also be a topic of interest with customers and the wider supply chain of a company, even impacting on reputation of a company and internal cultures and values that are allowed to form in the workplace.

Climate conscious policies are one way that employers can ensure they are prioritising sustainability on the agenda. Ensuring that a positive culture is being formed and the company's values are being embedded and followed in practice is often much more difficult in practice, but nevertheless an extremely important task companies are faced with.

When seeking to attract and retain the best talent, simply increasing salaries will not always be viable. That is why looking to enhance the benefits that can be offered to employees is a beneficial task for companies to carry out. This can be a chance for employers to embed their values and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, in turn making them a more attractive place to work and to do business with.

Sustainability conscious policies could include getting an employer's stance on flexible and hybrid working correct, integrating into the benefits package sustainable travel options and benefits of taking up these options. This could include salary sacrifice options for promoting the use of electric vehicles, bike to work or carpooling schemes. Further policies could include on reusing / upcycling company equipment where appropriate, adequate recycling facilities and in certain industries going paper free or at least paper light will be something many companies wish to work towards.

Employers also need to be aware of the challenges being faced by their employees, customers, and contacts considering the current cost of living crisis. Offering subsidised meals at work or addressing any concerns on food waste would also be a positive starting point to ensure sustainability is being prioritised on the agenda. In the current climate sustainability is more important than it has ever been before.

Employers will also need to ensure their position on whistleblowing is appropriately up to date and fit for purpose in practice. An employer will also be expected to have adequate policies on Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), bullying and harassment and other policies to ensure an equitable environment for all when assessing their position in respect of ESG.

The EU Proposal for Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive may also be something larger employers are required to consider, in respect of environmental impacts of their operations and adverse human rights implications.

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