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How can you retain your employees by going green?

You manage a team. Over the years, you have selected your employees carefully and made them participate actively in the life of your company, and yet you see that some of them are not engaged as much as they could be. Eventually, some leave to change jobs. So what could you do to shift your company culture and retain your best staff?

Times have changed. Our parents often had only one job in their lifetime. Nowadays, when you say you have been working somewhere for three years, people are surprised to hear you are not already planning to move somewhere else.

The work place is also changing and smart managers know that developing a more inspirational company culture, such as a shift towards greener values, can have a tremendous impact on their operation. By demonstrating a commitment to environmental improvement, evidenced by concrete steps such as working actively on saving energy, reducing water use and recycling waste, you can make a profound impression on your own staff and keep them engaged.

The fundamental question – WHY do people change jobs so often?

What are the reasons people leave a company? To an entrepreneur, the natural answer is, of course, money.  Salary is one of the most important factor when deciding whether to stick with a company or not, but, as the author of "Drive", Dan Pink, suggests, there are many other reasons that employees take into account.

Most people are motivated by several criteria when deciding whether to change jobs; possible motivators include difficult relationships with a colleague or a boss, a long daily commute to reach the workplace or not enough chances to climb the professional ladder. All these reasons are important, but there may be more to uncover. And not to be forgotten is certainly the sense of accomplishment that working can bring.

A generational shift – why aligning moral values can have more impact than paychecks

Employees within the same company can have a broad set of motivations to perform and general approach to work itself; some of these have been found to be linked to their generation or age group. While some people treat work as a necessity, do their 8-hour shift and then carry on with their "true" lives, others attribute much more weight to their jobs and don’t distinguish as strictly between work and leisure.

These two different approaches can be explained to a certain extent by different core needs. The first group belongs most often to Generation X, those born in the 60s and 70s, who tend to be more down-to-earth people who remember the uncertain times that followed the wars. In contrast, the current generation of employees – also called Millennials or Generation Y – consist of people born in the 80s and 90s.  Having often experienced peaceful and prosperous childhoods, many have developed rather different needs. Money is often not their main priority – they want to be proactive in the world and see the results of their actions while they are alive.

Most Millennials want to have a job with a clear purpose. Some jobs obviously provide this sense of impact on a daily basis – such as helping the poor, working as a medical doctor, etc. However, many jobs do not have this dimension laid out so explicitly. So as a hotel or restaurant manager, how can you put more emphasis on values and build your company into an engaging, fulfilling workplace?

Sustainability: it's here to stay!

Fads come and go, but some cultural trends become firmly established. One of them is environmentally friendly tourism, which comes under many names: green, eco or sustainable… The details are of secondary importance; it is the principle that matters: the continuous effort to limit environmental impact to a minimum by the wise use of resources.

Managing a business in an eco-friendly way immediately shows that the owner takes responsibility for the business, its employees and the world in general – even on a local scale. Staff may be concerned about the environment and climate change for a variety of reasons: the state of the planet their children will have to cope with, or their professional future (if the local environment is degraded, fewer tourists may decide to visit their location).

The exceptional value gained by turning a business into a more sustainable one is that it offers the possibility to your employees to stop being passive observers and get involved in the change.

Employees can become ambassadors of change and start identifying all the places where it can be implemented.

They can measure progress and help the manager and owner to turn the whole business into a greener one, one step at a time.

In the process, employees acquire new competences and a renewed motivation – they become a part of something larger than themselves. It is also possible they already make efforts to limit the consumption of water and electricity at home or pay attention to the products they buy and recycle waste – so the entrepreneur can benefit from their knowledge.

Faced with a choice between working in a sustainable business or a non-sustainable one, an employee would undoubtedly choose the more eco-friendly one –would you not do the same?

Win, win, win

Introducing sustainability measures never turns out to be a bad decision. Not only may you retain your staff but you will re-engage your employees for many years to come and share with them a vision. You might even learn something new about managing your business, and about the people you work with.

Get some inspiration and concrete tips on how to start making your hotel or restaurant more environmental friendly by reading these articles.

Interested in other green practices? Have a look at the best practices section