Make a difference as a sustainable employer

22 May 2023


In a tight labour market, it is important to present yourself as a sustainable employer. This is what employees are increasingly looking for. But even if you don’t operate in the sustainability sector yourself, you can still make a difference in this area. Here are 5 ways to do so.

1. Green energy and solar panels

Ensuring that you use as much green energy as possible for your business process is the best-known and perhaps also the easiest way to get a green image. For example, by showing that you only procure solar energy and wind energy. But also by generating it yourself, for example with solar panels on your roof. Show on a large screen, for example in the entrance hall, a daily overview of how much energy is generated in this way.

Many subsidy schemes are also available for sustainable energy, such as the: Sustainable Energy Investment Subsidy (ISDE) for heat pumps, solar boilers, solar panels and wind turbines, or the SME Sustainability Grant Scheme for hiring an energy consultant.

2. Riding bicycles and driving electric vehicles

Another important topic with which you can strike a blow for sustainability is mobility. After all, driving a car is a major source of CO2 emissions and also causes many traffic jams and unsafe situations. Make it attractive to come to work by bike or public transport. Or allow employees to work from home more often.

Buying or leasing a company bicycle for your employees comes with fiscal advantages. And, of course, also saves a lot of (expensive) parking space. Electric driving, via a company car or company van, is also a very attractive alternative for many employees.

Numerous subsidies are available in this area, such as the Environmental Investment Credit (MIA) for environmentally friendly business assets, including electric vans, and the Zero-Emissions Company Car Subsidy Scheme (SEBA).

Obviously, mobility is about more than your employees’ commuting and business travel. Sustainability can be achieved in lots of often small steps. Consider, for example, using a bicycle courier. Sending parcels is more polluting than you often realise. Not only because of all the packaging material, but also because the parcel has to go from A to B and sometimes back again. So take a closer look at ecological packaging or choose a green parcel carrier. And try to minimise the number of returns, for instance by explaining the product even better on your website.

3. Greener procurement

Here we find ourselves in an area that is often given less thought, but where there is a lot to be gained in terms of sustainability: procurement. Through socially responsible procurement (MVI), also known as sustainable procurement, you pay attention not only to the price of the products, services or works, but also to the effects of the procurement on environmental and social aspects.

With sustainable procurement, you can quickly make an effective impact. By using energy-efficient products, for example, you reduce your carbon footprint. At the same time, your power consumption is reduced. In the canteen, you can adapt the products on offer, e.g. with dairy substitutes, a vegetarian day, sustainable coffee and tea. Every organisation has to deal with procurement processes. By setting targets for them, monitoring results, sharing knowledge internally and externally, and looking together at the entire chain to see where you can (further) improve sustainability, you show that you take the subject seriously.

4. Making waste more sustainable

Another effective way to become more sustainable is to pay attention to waste. For example, replace cardboard (or plastic!) cups with reusable mugs, and print as little as possible. And if you want to do it, use Ecofont, a font that saves up to 46.5% ink.

Since March 2021, stricter rules have applied for industrial waste. This involves, for instance, setting up your production process in such a way that you reuse or resell residual materials as much as possible. And separate your production waste. Clean plastic waste can be reused just fine; contaminated plastic material, for example, cannot.

5. A green pension

Finally, we come to an area that is rarely thought of when making businesses more sustainable, but where certainly a big difference can be made: finance. Think, for example, of green savings, green investments or investing with the Green Projects Scheme, where you can borrow money more cheaply for sustainable construction, energy saving and sustainable mobility projects.

Another area in which a lot of impact can be made is pensions. If you offer a green pension, this will be an attractive employment condition for many employees. Research conducted last year by online pension administrator BeFrank already showed that active CSR policies can make a difference in recruitment. Furthermore, a large majority (62%) believe it is important that their pension capital is invested in socially responsible investments. So this area offers many opportunities for businesses, BeFrank director Jan Hein Rhebergen says. “A sustainable future for everyone is very important to us. This is why we adapt our investments accordingly. Because pensions involve great sums of money, the impact is great as well.”

This article appeared on on 17 May.