Large companies and small businesses alike are turning to environmentally friendly benefits to attract the right talent and fight climate change.
A 2021 study from The Economist indicates consumer enthusiasm for eco-friendly business practices is at an all-time high, as many believe that brands have as much responsibility as governments to create positive environmental change. The study shows a 71 percent rise in online searches for environmentally friendly goods across the planet.
Employee benefits have long been part and parcel to the employer-employee relationship. As companies have begun to shift gears towards more eco-friendly practices, employee benefits promoting a green lifestyle have begun to follow suit.
In this post, we'll cover:
- What are eco-friendly perks?
- Why should companies offer green perks?
- 7 examples of eco-friendly employee perks
What are eco-friendly employee perks?
Eco-friendly employee perks, in essence, are low carbon footprint benefits for employees that promote and encourage sustainable living, a healthier life and a better planet. Goodbye plastic water bottles with corporate logos!
Why should companies offer green perks?
There are several reasons why companies should offer eco-friendly benefits to its employees.
Attract environmentally-conscious talent
For businesses, energy efficient practices can go a long way towards attracting employees with a commitment to environmental sustainability and social responsibility.
Maximize tax benefits
Additionally, there are plenty of tax incentives (like tax credits and tax deductions) for businesses looking to make a positive environmental impact.
Fight climate change
Green perks may also encourage employees to emit a lower carbon footprint, conserve water, and provide a more cost effective path to organic food.
Demonstrate company values
Eco-friendly benefits help companies align their benefit offerings with their company culture and values. Not to mention the positive brand reputation that comes with demonstrating care toward the environment we inhabit!
7 Examples of eco-friendly employee perks
1. Environmental Wellness Programs
Wellness programs have become more commonplace in the modern workplace, but it is important for businesses to install these programs strategically so workers can take those lessons and apply them toward a more sustainable lifestyle that promotes good health.
Most are well aware of how crucial physical and mental wellness can be to a fulfilling, happy life, but environmental wellness can play just as much of a role for many. Environmental wellness specifically relates to improving one's health by improving the sustainability of one's surroundings.
The idea of environmental wellness refers more to the use of eco-friendly products in the workplace that can improve that quality of one's surroundings than any one specific program.
One great example of environmental wellness would be the exposure to natural lighting and fresh air. A UCLA study from 2022 reported that most people spend about 2.5 hours outside per day. Every additional hour spent outside was linked to a corresponding decrease in the risk of developing long-term depression symptoms.
From the company's point of view, mandatory outdoor breaks can not only help them buck traditional energy use, but help them save energy in the long run while preserving the well-being and longevity of their employees.
2. Green Office Initiatives
Green office initiatives differ slightly from environmental wellness. While such initiatives can improve the wellness of employees and overall office culture, these are typically side effects of the intended consequence, which is to improve compliance with local regulations and further the company's green mission.
There are countless examples of green office initiatives companies have taken advantage of for years to lessen the overall carbon footprint:
- Implementing recycling and composting programs
- Moving to an electric vehicle fleet
- Transitioning from paper to digital records
- Purchasing sustainable office products like LED lighting
- Encouraging good energy practices like powering down equipment before leaving the office
3. Commuter Benefits
Large companies and small businesses taking a pro-environment stance can sometimes extend beyond the walls of the office. A commuter benefits program can be another great way for employers to incentivize workers to follow an energy efficient lifestyle. For employees, the incentives extend far beyond simply "going green." The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy reported that the average American household spent nearly $10,000 on transportation in 2020, which accounts for 16 percent of all household expenditures. Needless to say, most employees would be happy to trim that number in the coming years, and their employers could play an important role.
Offices and firms located near points of public transportation, such as a subway or bus stop, might want to consider reimbursements for their employees on monthly or yearly passes. Eco-friendly places of employment can also offer their workers incentives to carpool with their co-workers, such as gift-cards and discounted meals. Depending on the community, electric bikes and scooters are have more relevance than ever, and employers can offer further incentives for those willing to use a service like Bird on their commute to work to cut down on energy costs.
Occasionally, commuter benefits programs can supersede the authority of a business. Bay Area employees, for example, are eligible for commuter benefits through the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program if their place of business has 50 or more employees.
By law, employers in this jurisdiction must offers their workers one of the following if they meet the 50-employee threshold:
- Pre-tax benefits
- Employer subsidy
- Employer-provided transit
- Alternative commuter benefits
4. Telecommuting Options
Employers that are serious about giving their workers more options to "go green" might want to consider implementing telecommuting options. The idea of telecommuting having a positive impact on the environment is one that goes hand-in-hand with the thought behind a commuter benefits program. In fact, a detailed group of studies from the Institute of Physics came to the conclusion that telecommuting can be an effective means of cutting down on energy use and pollution. Of the 39 studies observed, 26 of them found that telecommuting reduced energy consumption via a substitution effect.
The pro-environment benefits to telecommuting happen to extend beyond simply eliminating the need for transportation. Telecommuting can also open the door for workers to take environmental wellness into their own hands, perhaps providing opportunities to spend portions of their work day outside, taking in clean air and natural sunlight.
It is worth noting, however, the difference between telecommuting and simply working from home. While remote work is performed entirely from the comfort of one's home, telecommuting is essentially a hybrid between typical in-office and remote work. While it won't completely eliminate the need for having to work in polluted cities, an option to telecommute on select days can certainly lead to a better quality of life for employees as well as fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
5. Relocation Subsidies
Providing employees with a commuter benefits program and the option to telecommute on occasion can go a long way toward promoting a more environmentally friendly workplace. However, employers looking to go the extra mile should take a long look at providing relocation subsidies to employees looking to lessen their commute. Relocation subsidies can be a powerful tool in the hands of the right company, and if done strategically can significantly lessen emissions for commuters while putting more money back in the pocket of employees.
Not all companies will have the ability to provide relocation subsidies to its employees, of course, and the logistics of how that might look will vary from business to business. On the macro end of the scale, Facebook entices prospective employees with a $10,000 check conditional on workers buying or renting within 10 miles of the business' Silicon Valley headquarters. Facebook's idea of relocation subsidies is not without its flaws (such as fears of increased gentrification), but there are plenty of ways for a business to implement relocation subsidies that are a good fit for both employer and employee.
Relocation packages have long been part of the hiring process, but the impact strategic relocation can have on the environment is one that should not be overlooked.
6. Paid Volunteering Days
The words "paid" and "volunteer" don't often mix together. Nevertheless, it might be a good idea for employers to partner with other local organizations to set up paid days for employees to give back to the environment while earning a little extra money on the side. Think of it as "financial extra credit."
The organizations eco-friendly employers might look to partner with will surely vary, however there are several activities a business can organize that requires little to no prior knowledge from its workers to necessitate their participation. One option a business might pursue is a partnership with the The Arbor Day Foundation to assist with planting trees. As was written in Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax," people owe it to their community to "speak up for the trees."
Another example of activities to be done on a paid volunteering day might be to host a cleanup. The positive impact this can have on the surrounding community for future generations is well documented. A cleanup can help eliminate potential dangers for wildlife, reduce groundwater pollution, and protect the integrity of habitats, whether by land or sea. By incentivizing eco-conscious employees with financial benefits, companies can draw some great positive publicity for themselves while making a difference in the local community.
7. Charitable Giving Stipend
Some companies have employee giving programs, which can look different from company to company. Some giving programs include a charitable giving stipend. This allows employees to make donations to a charity of their choice on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.
There is no shortage of ways for a business to compensate employees while promoting an eco-friendly lifestyle. These perks can be, but do not always need to come in the form of financial benefits. Sometimes, they may save employees time, which, to many, is a currency just as valuable as money.
The eco-friendly nature of such perks can also lead to workers living happier, healthier lives, a true win-win for all parties.
With Compt, you can set up an employee perks program that aligns with your organization's environmentally-focused values. Click here to learn more.