Employee benefits: are green rewards still on the margins?
Is there anyone out there thinking strategically about rewarding their staff to reflect – perhaps even further – their business’s green objectives?
Perhaps there is. Perhaps you are one of them. If you are, I have another question for you:
Are you finding your professional advisers up to speed in this area? Are they able to give you the advice and support you need?
I ask these questions because I have just finished researching a feature for the GreenWise website looking at what employers are doing to attract and retain the ‘green careerist’ and, to be frank, have been unable to find any evidence of strategic thinking in this area.
The feature was a fun one for me to write as it brought together the two main areas I have focused on as a professional journalist – green business issues, which I have written about for the last couple of years, and reward and employee benefits, which I have written about for more than 20.
As the founding editor of a magazine called Employee Benefits back in 1997, I have been aware of employers offering so-called ‘green benefits’ for more than a decade. Perks like travel passes, park-and-ride and cycle-to-work schemes, for example – all designed to reduce the number of car journeys to work – have been fairly commonplace for many years.
But it seems to me that such efforts remain, for the most part, piecemeal and on the margins.
Why do I say this?
Well, it’s hardly scientific, but I think it’s at least telling, that when I approached two of the UK’s leading employee benefits consultancies (firms whose job it is to advise employers on all aspects of reward strategy and practice) for comment on this issue, neither was able to put up a spokesperson – even though one of them offers a cycle-to-work scheme for its own staff!
OK, it was August and in both cases holidays were cited as the reason for the lack of comment. But these are organisations that have been helping me with articles for two decades and in that time I’m not sure I can remember another occasion when they were unable to muster a comment of some kind.
Both these organisations advise major corporations and have clients that offer ‘green benefits’. But it seems clear to me that they are not currently looking at this area in a strategic way. Unlike, say, improving productivity or managing absenteeism, environmental performance is not a mainstream commercial issue that employee benefits advisers are dealing with on a daily basis.
If it were, a spokesperson would doubtless have been found.