By 2030, millennials and Generation Z (Gen Z) will be the central working force in society.
According to the 2018 Deloitte Millennials study, three-quarters of millennials and Gen Z respondents indicated they consider a company’s social and environmental commitments in deciding where to work. Two-thirds even said they would not accept a job that didn’t have a strong sustainability program. To make your business more appealing to younger generations of workers, you’ll want to think about going green.
Sustainability doesn’t always mean reusable water bottles and recycling, though that’s definitely part of building a sustainable business. Sustainability can also mean eliminating paper processes, streamlining workflows, and updating your business operations to create less waste. In these days of rapidly-changing work environments and shifting priorities, sustainability is something to keep at the forefront of your business plans.
What’s the first thing you think of when it comes to eliminating eco-unfriendliness in business? My mind went right to the fact that companies have largely moved to paper-free internal communications. There are more opportunities to go green than just shifting to instant messaging and email communications, though! Even allowing for employees to work remotely is a sustainable practice that your company might already be participating in.
In order to identify more ways to be more eco-friendly, think about where waste comes from in your business. Is there any low-hanging-fruit like removing paper plates from the lunch room or offering composting bins around the office? Acting on the more apparently unsustainable elements of your business gives you a tangible place to start, and might just inspire more sustainability across the board.
Once you’ve tackled those more apparent waste generators, consider which departments might use the most paper or the most manual processes. Is there a way to streamline those departments and create less waste? Now is the time to get creative and re-think antiquated processes!
This is where sustainability meets creativity. Changing up processes might seem counterintuitive. Doesn’t re-training require paperwork? Actually, it doesn’t take much to make it eco-friendly when you have the right partners and systems in place. Updating antiquated systems is an underutilized opportunity for increased sustainability!
For example, many unsustainable workflows exist in accounts payable (AP) departments. From sending physical checks to keeping paper records, there are a lot of manual processes (not to mention a lot of paper) going on in the back office.
If you’re hoping to attract millennial or Gen Z employees to your AP team, you might want to look into AP automation. You can automate the entire payment workflow, address the growing fraud and security risks associated with ACH payments, and ensure the resiliency of payment workflows all without using a shred of paper.
If it’s possible to make your AP department sustainable, it’s possible to find eco-friendly opportunities in pretty much any department! Once you’ve refined your processes and streamlined previously-wasteful departments, it’s time to share.
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of bragging about sustainability efforts. It might inspire more eco-friendly ideas from current employees, consumers respond well to companies that are environmentally-friendly, and sustainability messaging can be a valuable recruitment tool.
In 2021 the Journal of Cleaner Production found that younger people are willing to accept a lower salary to work for sustainable companies. This isn’t to say that implementing sustainable processes and initiatives is the key to lowering overall company spend, but it is incontrovertible proof that sustainability really matters.
Going green isn’t only important to potential recruits. According to a 2020 study by IBM, “Nearly eight in 10 respondents indicate sustainability is important for them. And for those who say it is very/extremely important, over 70 percent would pay a premium of 35 percent, on average, for brands that are sustainable and environmentally responsible.”
Obviously, you don’t want to print a load of paper flyers or hire a plane to skywrite about your sustainable initiatives, but email blasts and website posts are paper-free and effective ways to share what you’ve done to become more eco-friendly. You might even consider forming a “green committee” to keep the sustainable ideas flowing.
Sustainability efforts can help you recruit employees, save money, and even increase your bottom line. Whether that means composting leftovers or automating entire departments, sustainability is worth keeping at the forefront of your mind and your business plan.