Returning Employees Want More Environmentally Friendly Workplaces

Amid the heightened war for talent, workers want employers to make eco-friendly practices a priority, according to a new Essity survey.

U.S. employees have high expectations for green office spaces and expect more eco-friendly practices from their employers, according to new research from Essity. The vast majority of employees (75%) want more environmentally-friendly workplaces, according to the survey of workers who have returned to the office at least part-time.

Employees have also become markedly “‘greener” than before the Covid-19 pandemic began, according to the survey. Just over half of employees working from an office (51%) reported becoming more eco-conscious while working from home during lockdown periods. Another 46% became more aware of how “green” their workplace is then when they worked in the pre-pandemic office. In fact, more than half (58%) said their office is “shamefully eco-unfriendly,” and one-third (34%) believe the introduction of eco-friendly practices within their workplace is usually an afterthought.

Environmentally Friendly Workplaces“Working from home and in their personal spaces during the pandemic increased employees’ attention on what it takes to create environmentally friendly workplaces and employers should take note – especially those looking to retain and attract talent in this market,” said Don Lewis, President of Essity’s Professional Hygiene business. “Our research shows that as many as four in 10 employees prioritize companies based on their sustainability reputation and actions when looking for a new job. Increasing eco-friendly priorities in the workplace and empowering employees can create a greener office while helping drive employee engagement.”

A majority of employees working in the office (71%) said it is essentially the employees themselves who are leading the charge to make sustainable changes in the workplace rather than management, the survey revealed. Over half of employees (51%) said their employers need to better communicate the ways they intend to address sustainability in the workplace. On top of that, 56% think their employees could be doing more to turn their office into an “eco-friendly” place.

When asked who should be responsible, reactions were mixed: Roughly a third of survey respondents pointed to employers (32%), and nearly as many (28%) pointed to employees or a 50/50 shared responsibility between both employers and employees (27%), representing an opportunity for companies to get their employees involved.

“As employers continue to struggle to attract and retain talent, they ought to consider how they can appeal to their workers,” said Amy Bellcourt, Vice President of Communications, Professional Hygiene, Essity North America. “Our survey found that sustainability is often overlooked. Amid the pressure to deliver workplace flexibility, competitive salaries and benefits, and in-office perks, employers often disregard the importance of sustainability in the workplace – and their employees are noticing. Creating a more sustainable workplace leads to better outcomes, for your employee base and our planet.”

Environmentally Friendly WorkplacesCreating More Environmentally Friendly Workplaces

As sustainability becomes a top priority for employees, employers can implement and communicate simple, eco-friendly changes around their offices to meet “greener” employee expectations. These can include:

  • Consider bolstering office recycling and re-use initiatives: In North America, the majority of Tork hygiene products are made from 100% recycled paper and corrugate and are certified compostable.  Consider offering compost bins for used paper towels and napkin collection and signage to further show your staff and guests that you are taking extra sustainability efforts with responsible end of life and re-use of these valuable resources.
  • Look into eco-friendly product options: For example, consider Tork hand hygiene solutions in the restroom. Tork Clarity Foam Soap is made with 99% of ingredients from natural origin and is readily biodegradable.¹ This foam soap, paired with Tork Skincare Dispensers, can help reduce consumption by up to 50%, helping companies meet growing hygiene demands while controlling consumption and working towards sustainability goals.
  • Upgrade your facility with digital solutions that deliver improved hygiene and sustainability: Data-driven solutions, like Tork Vision Cleaning, use people counters and connected dispensers to give cleaning teams access to real-time data, helping to reduce product waste by ensuring that paper towel, toilet tissue and soap dispensers are not refilled too early.  With Tork Vision Cleaning, facility managers do not have to choose between sustainability and efficiency; they can achieve both.

¹ Proven by third party lab test according to OECD301B

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