11 Jun 2019 03:05pm

How going climate neutral can engage your workforce

Employees increasingly want to work for businesses who prioritise both profit and purpose, especially when it comes to climate change

City of London
Caption: Businesses who prioritise both profit and purpose reap rewards

In the Deloitte 2018 Millennial Survey, climate change tied with terrorism as the most significant concern for employees in the developed world. From Extinction Rebellion to Greta Thunberg to extreme weather disasters, you cannot turn on the television or pick up a magazine without reading how critical it is that we act in the next decade to avoid catastrophic temperature increases. There is a growing body of people who are calling for everyone – individuals, governments and businesses – to take responsibility for their impact on their environment.

Every day we hear from companies who are interested in reducing their carbon footprint. Their rationale for investing in these types of projects goes beyond the fact that it is the right thing to do. They’ve discovered that going climate neutral makes good business sense as it drives both employee and customer loyalty.

There is a growing body of evidence that businesses who prioritise both profit and purpose reap rewards. A 2018 study by Harvard Business Review put a dollar value against ‘purpose’. They stated, “Based on established job satisfaction-to-productivity ratios, we estimate that highly meaningful work will generate an additional $9,078 per worker, per year.” They didn’t stop at productivity. They found that, “Translating that into bottom line results, we estimate that enterprise companies save an average of $6.43 million in annual turnover-related costs for every 10,000 workers, when all employees feel their work is highly meaningful.”

Companies who get this right do so by ensuring alignment between their values and those held by their employees and customers. A Danone funded YouGov study found that a third of employees would consider leaving their job if a greater purpose was unclear, while slightly more than half would if their company’s values and purpose didn’t align with their own. This is what makes Deloitte’s findings so important. If climate change is sitting in your employees’ hearts, it makes good business sense to put it at the heart of your business as well.

There are plenty of examples of businesses who have gotten this combination of profit and environmental purpose right. Linklaters is a global law firm with a purpose of bringing legal certainty to a changing world. The firm’s holistic approach to sustainability spans protecting human rights, conserving the environment and supporting communities. Linklaters sought to build on its energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives by balancing the remainder of its carbon footprint through offsetting with ClimateCare.

This was a move supported by 86% of staff and demonstrated the firm’s climate responsibility and commitment to positive action. They brought the programme to life for their employees through a global internal comms campaign. The firm’s progressive approach to climate and the environment highlights its responsibility and is helping to attract and retain talented people, as well as win and retain client business.

Start-up businesses are finding that a well-defined and relevant purpose can be the difference between failure and success. The UK energy market has been flooded with new entrants. Last year at least seven energy suppliers failed, while one of them, Bulb Energy has thrived and is now reaching more than a million customers. Bulb’s commitment to providing ‘simpler, cheaper, greener’ energy has resonated with both employees and customers alike. With 20 new employees starting every week, they rely on pairing pay packets with purpose to attract a high calibre of employees to their team.

Their recent commitment to provide 100% carbon neutral gas as standard made them the largest green energy supplier in the UK, a significant accomplishment for a business that didn’t exist 5 years ago. Employees and customers alike can be proud of their connection to Bulb because it champions the issues which matter to them the most.

The time clock for taking action on climate change is ticking. Companies who act will see benefits beyond knowing they are doing the right thing for future generations. They can join hands with employees and customers, creating an invaluable connection and deepening loyalty as they work together towards a common cause.

Vaughan Lindsay is CEO of ClimateCare