There is a new workforce brewing as we move into the green business movement with many challenges between employees and employers.
The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) set out to gauge earlier this year, in 2008 “how leading companies approach internal employee education and engagement.” As part of a larger study on corporate environmental and sustainability education it surveyed more than 1,300 people.
Now the numbers may be skewed because the respondents came from a largely environmentally minded audience. The study found that 51% of small company respondents and about 30% of medium and large corporations engage in offering advanced or very advanced environment and sustainability education.
It is also interesting to find that 65% of them value job candidates’ environmental and sustainability knowledge, with 78% saying this knowledge will become a larger hiring factor within the next five years. Companies with no environmental education programs believe they will be beginning them in two years.
So, should the employee bring environmental and sustainability opportunities to the company, especially those who are practicing green-minded activities in their personal lives? Or, should it be the sole responsibility of the company to create programs, identify the tasks and educate their employees.
Perhaps it is both and has the opportunity to allow for employee ingenuity. Employees can be encouraged to heighten a company’s environmental performance, particularly when this engagement has the possibility of building and maintaining a profitable company with long-term employment security.
To bring about a culture where environmental and sustainable values are part of our everyday living means that companies and employees need to build a seamless path from their personal lives to the workplace.
It is very discouraging to practice recycling at home and feel the waste pile up around you at your desk knowing it will fill another dumpster. Purchase greener goods and services and see your company leave the lights, computers and other machines burning 24/7.
The disconnect a company feels when the employees lack of environmental awareness and personal habits thwart the building of green ethics is frustrating and squanders opportunities for both sides to bring job ideas and inspiration to create a greener, sustainable and more profitable company.
Empowering employees to identify opportunities to cut waste and improve their company’s environmental performance allows them to step up to the task and companies can benefit by having employees who are educated and engaged. It can be a win-win for both.