The Green $ In Green

So you’ve been wondering about “going green” at your business. Do you want to control costs, recruit, motivate, and retain employees, attract eco-conscious consumers and employees, drive efficiency and process improvements and just do the right thing for the planet? Well, lucky for you, those all are possible…and more!

In the beginning…

Some of our first forays into going green were simple like replacing plastic silverware with stainless, recycling aluminum and paper, as well as eliminating storage/shredding. Keeping paper for 10 years is necessary, but we use scanners and other virtual document storage solutions/retrieval. It is amazing how much “time” we spend looking for information – typically paper. Did you know the average office employee spends 1.5 hours a day (6 weeks per year) looking for things (organizedworld.com)? The typical executive wastes 150 hours a year (almost an entire month), searching for lost information (Forbes ASAP).

The next step

Other activities take more effort like turning off every computer and screen, printer, photocopier, scanner, etc. when the office is closed. We installed energy efficient lighting and began turning off all appliances when not in use. Software solutions and other tech advances allowed us to move to network printers versus everyone having printers at their desk with multiple cartridge requirements/costs. A pleasant bi-product of is that we have to actually get off our “chairs” and walk to the printer!

Fresh set of eyes

We are currently in the throes of a building remodel, so we’re looking at opportunities. Individual suite temperature controls will help prevent the “thermostat wars” that take place in the office and save energy by reducing the use of portable heaters. Teleconference and video interviews save travel costs and reduce emissions. Chairs made out of recycled materials have been purchased, and we have designed more natural light in the new spaces. New software has allowed us to do 15% more work with the same amount of staff, demonstrating that higher technology = higher productivity. We also donate and recycle our old computers and electronics to New2UComputers.

Documenting the benefits

The hard numbers can be found by tracking key items like new versus recycled printer cartridges. Energy savings calculators can be found online. “Soft” numbers reveal themselves through company culture. Best places to work engage employees who are then more productive and feel more involved. Daily green efforts provide educational opportunities to convey our culture like, “Here is why we scan versus print.” Going green is a way to connect with the younger generations in the workforce who value the planet as an ideal, which helps in recruiting, retention, and succession planning.

How will you harvest the green in green?

Written by Jim Annis, President/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today’s workplace. Celeste Johnson, Tom Miller, and Suzanne Chennault, Applied’s division directors, contributed to this article.