Green Company Programs Increase in U.S.

By SHRM Online staff Apr 21, 2010

The number of U.S. employers with formal green workplace programs rose from 43 percent in 2009 to 53 percent in 2010, according to a survey of 100 U.S. companies. The findings were released the day before Earth Day 2010. Earth Day celebrates its 40th anniversary April 22, 2010.

Thirty percent of companies Buck Consultants surveyed have 500 or fewer employees, and nearly 43 percent are publicly traded companies, according to The Greening of the American Workplace 2009. Buck Consultants is an independent subsidiary of ACS, a Xerox company.

Involvement from the top appears critical. Among organizations with formal initiatives, 80 percent had the CEO involved. Additionally, 86 percent had an individual appointed to lead the organization’s green efforts, and 78 percent said participating in green initiatives occurred companywide. Two-thirds of those with formal initiatives did not have a separate budget for green activities.

Being green was viewed as good for the bottom line—94 percent said having environmentally friendly processes, policies and programs was extremely important in reducing the company’s energy and resource use. Reducing waste and the impact on the environment was important to profitability. Community goodwill (82 percent) and improved perceptions from stakeholders (59 percent) were cited as benefits.

Fifty-eight of the 100 U.S. employers surveyed have formal, environmentally friendly workplace programs, and nearly all have recycling and paper-reduction programs. Other efforts:

  • 85 percent use the Web and/or teleconferencing.
  • 78 percent have internal green communication programs to reduce paper usage.
  • 72 percent use online HR communications.
  • 58 percent have internal communication programs that offer employees tips and information on being environmentally friendly.
  • 57 percent use online summary plan descriptions.
  • 57 percent offer telecommuting.
  • 52 percent offer a rideshare program.

Sixty-one percent of companies with green programs haven’t measured their cost savings. However, among those that have, nearly two-thirds realized savings in paper and electricity costs, and 49 percent reduced their heating and cooling costs.

Operations and HR typically are the corporate departments responsible for green programs (50 percent and 47 percent, respectively).

Most don’t offer employee rewards to encourage environmentally friendly behavior. Among those that do, they consist of:

  • Award or special recognition, 31 percent.
  • Prize incentive, 24 percent.
  • Monetary incentive, 9 percent.

Among companies that don’t have a green program in place, nearly two-thirds said it is not an organizational priority and 40 percent have no plans to implement a green program.

A CareerBuilder survey in the U.S. of 2,778 full-time hiring managers and HR professionals found that companies have become more environmentally conscious in the past year.

Nearly 70 percent of respondents said their companies have added green programs, according to the survey conducted in February and March 2010. As with the Buck Consultants findings, recycling is the most popular program. Other popular environmental initiatives include using less paper and controlling lighting, along with powering down computers at day’s end and purchasing office supplies made from recycled materials.

Green Jobs

One in 10 companies are adding positions that have a green slant, with much of that happening in retail (24 percent), CareerBuilder found.

Jobs added to the 2010 list include:

  • Solar energy system designer.
  • GIS (Geographic Information Systems) analyst.

“Green opportunities continue to grow as companies take advantage of increased government programs designed to spur job growth and reduce the country’s carbon footprint,” CareerBuilder’s Vice President of HR Rosemary Haefner, said in a news release.

“The green category has expanded over the past few years, and job seekers are finding environmentally friendly positions in virtually every industry and at every job level.”

Related Articles:

Going Green Extends Beyond Organization’s Products, HR News, Oct. 31, 2008

Turning ‘Earth Day’ into Earth ‘Every Day,’ HR News, April 23, 2008

Workplace Responsibility Toward Environment Gaining Foothold, HR News, Jan. 16, 2008

Advancement Trumps Green as Recruitment Tool, HR News, Oct. 18, 2007

Related Resource:

Greening Your Workplace Toolkit, SHRM Templates and Tools


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