Offering a benefits package that includes free green employee benefits can bring multiple benefits for organisations, besides the obvious cost aspect. With tightening budgets, more companies are searching for free employee benefits that have an ROI for the business.
Here are five free green employee benefits that are good for the environment and won’t cost your organisation a penny.
Free green employee benefit #1: Cycle to work scheme
This salary sacrifice scheme works by the employee hiring a bike and cycling equipment from their employer or a contracted company in return for a portion of their salary.
At the end of the scheme, an employee can either renew the agreement, buy the bike, or return it to their employer.
How much does the cycle to work scheme cost to employers?
Cycle to work schemes are free for employers to join, and there are also financial benefits.
A study by PJM Economics discovered that increasing employees’ physical activity raises productivity levels, potentially saving UK employers £6.6 billion a year.
Salary sacrifice schemes like cycle to work save both employers and employees money. That’s because the portion of an employee’s salary that’s sacrificed is not subject to tax and National Insurance.
Employees can make significant savings through the cycle to work scheme
Cycle to work schemes are one of the most popular (and free) green benefits for employees. About 180,000 people currently participate.
Employees can save up to 40% on the cost of a new bike through tax and National Insurance savings. Saving money is particularly valuable right now given the cost-of-living crisis.
Plus, employees don’t have to worry about the rising cost of fuel, which can lead to financial stress.
What are the environmental benefits of the cycle to work scheme?
Cycling to work instead of driving reduces air and noise pollution. Research from Oxford University found that when people switch from driving to cycling for only one trip a day, their carbon footprint is reduced by 0.5 tonnes a year.
Lead researcher, Dr Christian Brand said:
Free green employee benefit #2: Remote working
The second most popular free green employee benefit has to be remote working.
During the pandemic, many employers had to adapt fast and roll-out remote working. Today, one in four businesses continue to offer remote working.
Employers can make substantial savings by offering remote working
Research from Global Workplace Analytics concluded that businesses save an average of £6,810 per year for each employee who works remotely for half of the week.
Remote working gives employers the flexibility they crave at work
Working from home means people don’t waste time sitting in traffic and it gives them more flexibility and control over their lives.
A survey carried out by RADA Business found that 61% of 16-24-year-olds want to work from home.
Providing people with the option to work from home, for at least part of the week, widens the talent pool to those living further away.
This is especially true if your competitors don’t offer home working, so remote working is a great way to create a competitive edge.
Remote working helps to reduce CO2 emissions
Researchers from the University of Exeter found that working from home saves an average of two tonnes of CO2 emissions per person, per year.
The study analysed usual modes of transport and the average commuting distance. Researchers also compared domestic energy use to office energy usage, considering hot water, heating, lighting and more.
Free green employee benefit #3: Volunteering days
Volunteering or charity days have surged in popularity in the last few years. Employers give employees a specific number of days per year to participate in voluntary activities that benefit the local community.
Ideas include helping a wildlife charity for a day, volunteering to clean up beaches and parks, or planting trees.
How much do volunteering days cost employers?
Offering environmental volunteering days doesn’t cost an employer anything in the traditional sense.
However, it does take employees away from their work for those days they’re absent, so there needs to be a return on investment in the environmental sense.
For example, if an employee is planting trees, are they planting species that encourage biodiversity and reduce air pollution?
Free green employee benefit #4: Employee-led workshops
The opportunity to learn environmental skills from peers is one of the best green perks an employer can offer.
Sustainability skills are in high demand today. More and more people want to reduce their waste and live more sustainably.
Employees sharing their knowledge with others through face-to-face workshops or webinars is an untapped resource.
Sharing knowledge on topics like growing and foraging for food, starting an allotment, harvesting rainwater, and composting is a great way to help others live more sustainably.
Learning about sustainability is free
Learning environmental skills from peers doesn’t have to cost an employer anything. In fact, like other sustainable benefit ideas, it can reap financial rewards through increased productivity and staff retention.
Quench employees’ thirst for learning and development
61% of employees say they want to work for a company that offers learning and development opportunities.
You may be wondering what ethical pensions are. Well, you wouldn’t be alone.
Ethical pension providers don’t invest people’s savings in carbon-intensive sectors. Instead, they invest in sectors that directly benefit the environment, such as renewable energy.
This is another area where greenwashing is common. For that reason, it’s important to carry out due diligence on any pension provider before committing.
Why are ethical pensions more expensive than traditional pension schemes?
On the basis that employees are liable for the fees associated with pension schemes, there’s no cost to employers.
While it can be more expensive to roll out ethical pensions, the environmental aspect can make the additional investment worthwhile.
Specifically, employees may pay a little more in fees for ethical pensions than other pension funds.
That’s because fund managers must actively identify companies that are genuinely ethical, which can involve extensive research.
Ethical choices can help attract talent and retain employees
The consumer magazine Which? discovered that 27% of their readers want their pension savings invested in ethical companies. This demand will probably increase as environmentally savvy Millennials and Gen Z become more interested in pension savings.
Choosing an ethical workplace pension scheme is one of the most valuable climate perks for employees. This can translate into feelings of goodwill towards their employer, and this positive perception can bring wider benefits.
Why offer free green employee benefits?
Two-thirds of those in the Gen Z age range say they’re extremely anxious about climate change.
So if you’re considering how to attract talent with benefits, then offering free green employee benefits is becoming increasingly valuable.
That’s because candidates are more likely to choose to work for companies that align with their values and act on climate change. They’ll also be more loyal, engaged, productive and less likely to leave.
Businesses can appeal to environmentally conscious employees by demonstrating their commitment to sustainability through the benefits they offer.
In turn, this can translate into a broad range of benefits that can help drive business profitability.
Openwage Limited does not currently carry out regulated activities and is not authorised or regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Openwage is a distributor of Modulr FS Limited, a company registered in England with company number 09897919. Modulr FS Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority as an Electronic Money Institution (Firm Reference Number: 900573)