Drive productivity through sustainability

by Cameron Edmond20 Aug 2013

Unilever Australia and New Zealand recently took part in an ‘environmental boot camp’ to increase awareness and help reduce the environmental footprint of their employees.

The boot camp taught the participants how to reduce their waste, water and energy use in a variety of ways such as shorter showers and using dry shampoo. Ninety per cent of the employees have stated they now take active steps to reduce their waste.

“We’re passionate about driving sustainable growth – and exciting activities like the boot camp are a great way to engage our people on this strategic priority,” Clive Stiff, chairman and CEO of Unilever Australia and New Zealand, said.

The sustainability initiative ties in with the core values of the organisation. Stiff stated that he wants employees to take ownership of the environmental efforts of the organisation, and integrate this awareness into their day-to-day lives.

“The boot camp gave us all the sense that we’re part of this pioneer movement, working together to find ways to be more sustainable, both at work and at home,” a Unilever employee said. “These are lessons that I will carry with me for life.”

Environmental sustainability is an increasingly important part of business success, Andrew Savitz, writing for The Wall Street Journal, said.

Savitz stated that many job seekers – regardless of age – hope to apply their sustainability values to their workplace, with some even demanding it.

By instilling sustainability in the workforce, employees are likely to become more productive and highly engaged, due to a sense of fulfilment in making the world a better place. This spills into a reduction in staff absenteeism and turnover.

“More job applicants are ranking sustainability as a crucial characteristic of the companies where they want to work. Some say they’d take a pay cut to join a firm whose environmental and social practices they admire,” Savitz said.

Another organisation implementing efforts to tackle environmental and social issues is Starbucks Corp. The organisation has introduced programs to purchase ethically sourced coffee, reduce the environmental impact of chain stores, and lend money to small businesses located near Starbucks.

By incorporating these initiatives, the company aims to foster a culture of highly engaged employees who believe in the brand they are a part of.

Reducing waste can save companies plenty and attract green-minded customers, but in many cases the business results that come as the result of increased employee engagement can dwarf those expected gains,” Savitz explained. “If what you’re doing resonates with their values, you may find your employees working harder and standing taller.”



  • by Fiona Elkins 20/08/2013 7:08:42 PM

    This Unilever initiative is a great example of engaging employees to help think about their environmental impact in the same way the company does through its own sustainability programme. Unilever is among the world's most innovative companies and other successful companies like Dyson, Apple or Nike all live and breath their brand. And this is a great example of Unilever doing just that.

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