Feature Article - March/April 2008

Green Motivations

Incorporating Eco-Friendly Merchandise Into Your Program

By Emily Tipping

A Rising Corporate Consciousness

According to the "2008 SHRM Green Workplace Survey" released in January 2008 by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 50 percent of surveyed organizations have implemented a formal or informal environmental policy, but 43 percent do not have such a policy, nor any plans to implement one within the next 12 months.

Yet companies that do implement environmental responsibility programs report considerable benefits, including improved employee morale and a stronger public image for the company. A smaller number also reported increased consumer/customer confidence/choice and a positive financial bottom line as benefits, as well as increased employee loyalty.

According to Gerlinde Herrmann, SHRP, president of the Herrmann Group and a member of SHRM's Corporate Social Responsibility Expertise Panel, these findings indicate that green initiatives can help attract potential employees. "These employees check the background of organizations and talk with employees to find out for themselves if the 'green' CSR (corporate social responsibility) messaging delivers on its promise," Herrmann said.

While HR professionals report some barriers to implementing such plans—including implementation cost, maintenance cost and lack of management support—nearly three out of four employees from companies without these programs say that they want their employers to go green.

The top five environmentally responsible practices, as ranked by HR professionals, include:

  • Encouraging employees to work more environmentally friendly
  • Offering a recycling program for office products
  • Donating and discounting used office furniture and supplies to employees or local charity
  • Using energy-efficient lighting systems and equipment, such as Energy Star equipment and occupancy sensors
  • Installing automatic shutoff for equipment

Employees offer a different perspective, ranking the promotion of walking, biking and taking public transit higher than HR professionals. However, HR pros and employees alike say that the number-one motivation for participating in such programs is to make a contribution to society.

Incorporating more "green" options into your incentive and rewards program is just one more way to help your company go green. Ultimately, it will be one more way you can help improve your company's reputation with its own workforce, as well as influencing those the company comes in contact with, from dealers and channel partners to customers.