If you haven’t considered how the environmental impact of your workplace affects the planet and climate change but also your employees’ wellbeing, now is the time to think about it. We know that climate change is an issue facing all of us, and there are positive ways that organisations can get on board to both help their bottom line, and their employees’ wellbeing.
There are many reasons why a green workplace can have a positive impact on mental health.
Recruitment: A focus on green working environments is a popular aspect for many job hunters, which means you can attract quality staff and also retain staff who are happy, healthy and productive.
Morale: Getting staff involved with green-ing your workplace makes them feel like they’re making a positive contribution to the planet, their work environment and the organisation. This is a great morale boost!
Organisational Values: Aligning your work environment with your business/organisation values shows integrity from a top-down level, that can be reflected through your employees work ethic.
Productivity: Research has found that contrary to the idea that environmentalism hurts economic performance, a new UCLA-led study reported that voluntarily adopt international “green” practices and standards have employees who are 16 per cent more productive than the average. While productivity as a concept doesn’t necessarily connect to the positive mental health of employees, employees in green organisations are more motivated, receive more training, and benefit from better interpersonal relationships. There are all pretty good for your mental health.
What Can You Do?
Fresh air: Adding plants to the working environment will create cleaner air to breathe, resulting in healthier employees. Plants absorb indoor air pollution and increase oxygen. ABC’s Gardening Australia has ideas and care tips for pots in small spaces.
Establish a Green Team: Maybe they’re part of your Health and Safety Committee, or maybe they stand alone, but having a group of people dedicated to determining how to best introduce green initiatives in the workplace shows commitment and support through empowering staff to get involved.
Commit: If a green focus is something that reflects your organisation’s values, say so. Talk about the commitment you have to make a positive environmental and mental impact on your values and mission.
Make it easy: If there are ways of supplying resources within your organisation in a sustainable way, prioritise that. Whether that’s the toilet paper you use, your energy company, the tea and coffee; what changes can you make to show your staff that you’re committed. This also means that your staff are giving back without changing any habits, but it’s still a step toward change.
Build it in: To take sustainability past just using the recycling bin in the kitchen (or, perhaps to also encourage that!), build it into as many aspects of work life as you can. Position descriptions, regular meetings, organisational updates, performance management plans, and KPIs.