11 April 2023

How engaging employees with a strong sustainability message will help you retain and attract the best talent

Sustainability isn’t just a critical factor in attracting and retaining customers. It is also part of the key to attracting and holding onto motivated employees. If you manage a restaurant or hospitality business, you’ll know just how important that is in the current employment climate.

A global survey undertaken by the Institute for Business Value revealed that over 70%¹ of jobseekers say that environmentally sustainable companies are more attractive employers. Another study in the UK found that over half the respondents would consider moving jobs to take on a greener role. 

Having a strong sustainability strategy and communicating it to your employees is a key part of making them feel their roles are worthwhile and fulfilling. Sustainability is also a great hook to engage future employees, seeking to work in a more rewarding and ethical environment.  

Fresh generations require fresh thinking

Generation Z (or Gen Z) are the people born between 1995 and 2010 and they have grown up as digital natives  in the midst of a climate crisis which many view as an existential threat to human life². 

There is growing evidence that they are looking for more than just financial rewards and security. A sense of fulfilment and a clear moral ethos are both resonant factors when choosing everything from consumer goods to investments and, most importantly, their jobs. They view their working life more from a consumer perspective - typically rating their working experience in a similar way to how they would review a restaurant or “like” a social media post. 

A sustainable approach is essential if you want to retain and attract the best talent from this group. They want to be treated not as employees but as people and, to achieve this, you need to focus on what matters most to them - providing a genuinely positive work experience. 

It’s not just the younger generations who will buy into your sustainability strategy

While most of the current climate activism looks to be driven by the Millennial and Gen Z cohorts that now make up over 50% of the UK’s working population, it’s easy to assume that older generations aren’t equally motivated to do their bit for the planet. However, a survey of 4,000 British adults has revealed that, in many areas, the older generation is leading the way on sustainability. Over 55s are more likely to recycle waste (84%), avoid single-use-plastics and buy only seasonal fruit and vegetables (47%) than any other age group³. This should reassure you that time spent engaging employees of all ages with your sustainability agenda will be welcomed and pay dividends. 

Why greenwashing won’t wash with your team

While some consumers might buy a vague sustainability story, that won’t work with people working within the business. They will know exactly how things operate so it is not enough to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. If you want your team to believe in and embrace the initiatives you are introducing, your sustainability strategy must be clear and credible to everyone in the business. 

By embedding sustainable principles right through the business, you will ensure that the whole team not only embraces the concept but understands and actively contributes to it. That will help drive loyalty and retention and help create a sustainable mindset that will resonate with new employees.

Training isn’t just good for sustainability, it's great for morale   

Good training makes people feel valued. Research undertaken by LinkedIn found that 94% of employees would stay longer with a business that invested in their training⁴. And because sustainability is now such an important topic, knowledge about it is a valuable transferable skill to give your employees. People are one of the most valuable elements of any business and there are few places that they are more important than in hospitality. Investing in them will give them confidence to act as brand ambassadors, communicating your sustainable vision to customers, friends and suppliers.

There is no shortage of topics you can tackle in your training. Your restaurant’s sustainability strategy will be clearer if everyone understands the full range of activities that are contributing to your environmental performance. 

Typically, these would include how you are adjusting the supply chain and how using seasonal, local and foraged ingredients improves sustainability in the restaurant industry. You should also talk about the importance of reducing energy, water and plastics use. Training on the impact of waste and the effectiveness of recycling will help people understand the value of the resources they are handling at work. Suppliers will often be able to provide you with materials and information that will help you educate your team. The Olleco website is a great place to find information about how valuable used cooking oil and food waste are in creating renewable biofuels, energy and fertilisers. You’ll also find visual aids such as infographics and videos to bring sustainable processes to life.

Engaging employees on their way to work

One carbon impact, that many hospitality and restaurant businesses overlook, is the carbon impact of their employees getting to and from work. One study found that the daily commute is responsible for more than 98%⁵ of an employee's work-related carbon footprint. While many businesses can address this by facilitating remote working, that is simply not an option for hospitality and restaurant businesses where employees need to be there in person. 

There are alternative routes you could take. We offer a cycle to work scheme to Olleco employees to encourage low-carbon commuting and there are other schemes you could offer to encourage the use of public transport. You can also help employees to commute more sustainably with salary sacrifice schemes to buy electric vehicles, dedicated charging points at the workplace and encouraging car sharing where possible.

The scope of ways in which you can engage your team with sustainability is vast and it is something which your team will value. If you want to show your employees the part Olleco is playing in your sustainability strategy, get in touch. One of our sales team will be more than happy to help with information about our full range of sustainable services.


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