by Traci K and BrightMove Staffing Software and Recruiting Software


My Pay It Forward post was spurred by reading an article on putting an employee’s future potential ahead of a company’s immediate gain. Perhaps the reason for the impact that article made was the recognition that, due to the effects of this economic slump, CSR objectives of many organizations have seemed to become nonexistent. Once realizable goals, corporations have pulled back on spending money for programs that they feel do not immediately impact their bottom line. Many companies are just trying to eke through and stay afloat while we dig ourselves out of this economic mess.

There are a few problems with completely dropping CSR initiatives, however. First of all, everyone knows unemployment is high and for the jobs that are open, skilled workers are hard to come by. Jobs can be extremely difficult to fill due to the skills gap. Companies still need to do what they can to stand out from other employers. Showing what is being done to help employees and/or the community may be the deciding factor that brings on that fantastic new hire.

Secondly, even if your organization is not having trouble hiring right now, when the job market finally crests, those corporations that didn’t make an effort to remain a company employees want to work for, will feel the heat as employees leave for other opportunities. They will also reap the effects of the bad reputation they have created, finding it difficult to backfill those that have exited.
Putting forth some corporate energy into “going green” is a great way to show employees that you care about the future of the planet, which appeals even greater to those with children, knowing they are the ones that will be left behind to deal with things when we are gone. “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”


Implementing processes that show an organization cares about the planet does not have to be an expensive undertaking. Here are some small steps you can take to make a big impact:

  • Go paperless. According to the EPA, the impact of 10 million pages on the environment is 2,500 trees, 56,000 gallons of oil, 405 cubic yards of landfill space, and 595,000 KW of energy. Having trouble deciding whether going paperless is a realistic goal for your organization? Find out more information here and here.
  • Recycle the paper that you do use. Place bins in each department for this purpose. Many communities offer recycling pickup and if not, there are local organizations that will pick it up for a small fee. If anything else, call local schools and daycares. I know ours are always asking for scratch paper!
  • Buy recycled paper. What better way to prove your support for the environment than to send out correspondence on recycled paper?
  • Don’t subscribe to receive hard copies of business/professional magazines, newspapers, etc. Utilize the information from these resources by subscribing online.
  • Pay company bills online, eliminating the need for paper statements.
  • Require a uniform? Superior Uniform Group offers uniforms made out of environmentally friendly fabrics.
  • If traveling for work, use e-tickets instead of paper ones (same goes for events outside of work – many venues now offer e-ticket options).
  • Request that your cleaning service use eco-friendly products, or if you have a janitor on staff, buy these types of cleaning products for them to use. You can also stock employee restrooms with eco-friendly products.
  • Make sure there are plenty of plants in the office. Find the top 10 houseplants for filtering indoor air here.
  • Set the office thermostat to 68 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night. Many corporations already use this technique to save money (I have to wear a warm cardigan sweater even during the summer).
  • Make sure garbage cans are available outside the office building to reduce the chance for litter.
  • My office provides coffee in the break room, all day, for all employees. Employees are encouraged to bring their own reusable mugs and can wash them in the kitchenette sink and store them in the cupboard for daily use. This eliminates the need to stop and purchase coffee (cutting down on the use of disposable cups). If this is not an option for your company, you can suggest that employees bring coffee from home in a reusable thermos rather than stopping each day – this will save them money as well!
  • Send out a memo to your employees with a few of these suggestions (and more) so that they can be a part of helping accomplish company initiatives. Suggest things like: turning off computers at the end of the day, turning off lights that aren’t being used, only printing when absolutely necessary, bringing lunch in a lunchbox instead of paper or plastic bags, and encouraging employees to carpool.

Some of these suggestions may be realistic for your organization and some might not be. There are those that will never give up that daily stop for their morning coffee. The effort that you make as a company will not go overlooked, however, the point coming across that you care about the planet and those living on it, namely your employees. There are many more things not included on this list to make your organization as “green” as possible and countless more you can do once you leave the office (look here).

Traci K. is an HR Professional and freelance writer based in the Midwest, specializing in recruitment and immigration. When she’s not improving unemployment, she keeps busy with her husband and four children.

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