Engage employees in sustainability with WWF

Engage employees in sustainability with WWF's sustainable ideas for offices. 

Sustainability isn't just a trend; it’s crucial. Not only is ‘going green’ essential in tackling the climate emergency, biodiversity loss and unsustainable use of resources, it’s key to a company’s long-term success.  

Small businesses, in particular, can play a pivotal role by creating and encouraging a sustainability culture in the workplace. Created together with WWF, our guide to sustainability ideas for offices is packed with practical tips to help you make meaningful change.  

How to encourage employees to engage in sustainable initiatives 

Now more than ever, people want to work for a business that not only cares about our planet but is doing something about it.  

Being transparent about your sustainability commitments and proactively putting them into practice helps engagement, while failing to act risks having the opposite effect. Nurturing a sustainable workplace needs a balanced and committed approach that recognises that your people are the force behind its success. This means championing initiatives that have a lasting impact, and including your teams in building a greener, more responsible future, so this becomes embedded across your organisation. 

So how do you create a culture that supports employees to go green, as part of a wider effort to become a more sustainable business?  


Recognition and rewards 

When it comes to protecting the environment, many people are happy to do the right thing without any incentives. Even so, being recognised and rewarded can be a powerful motivator. Acknowledge and celebrate employees who have gone that extra mile. It's more than just a pat on the back. It creates a culture of appreciation and engagement that encourages people to get involved.  

Business travel alternatives 

The transport sector is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and even short trips can affect the environment. By thinking more carefully about how we travel, we can make a direct difference. 

In our post-pandemic world, video calls have become the norm. Where people need to spend at least some time in the workplace, encourage eco-friendly commuting. Think about cycle-to-work schemes or, where possible, choose public transport, always opt for trains over flights, and encourage car-sharing or hiring electric/ hybrid vehicles.  

Eco-friendly offices supplies 

Every year, we lose around 88,000 square kilometres of natural forest. That’s one football pitch vanishing every two seconds. Deforestation is damaging the planet's vital green lungs while putting immense strain on precious forest ecosystems, and the people and wildlife that call them home. 

Wood products, including timber, pulp and paper, are one of seven major forest risk commodities. According to WWF, the pulp and paper industry, which makes products such as office and catalogue paper, glossy paper, tissue and paper-based packaging, uses between 33–40% of all industrial wood traded globally.  

Given the environmental footprint of paper, only print when absolutely necessary, on both sides, encourages people to recycle paper and cardboard, and always buy recycled supplies. Implement access codes to monitor and reduce printer use, and avoid processes like lamination that reduce recyclability.   


Make sure you’re fully informed about your buying decisions to minimise negative social and environmental impacts. Consider the lifecycle of products, prioritise sustainability standards, and only choose suppliers with strong, verifiable environmental and social practices.  

This isn’t just about what the products you sell - it can cut right across your business. For example, the food on offer in your office dining room also carries an environmental footprint. Consider working with your food service provider to increase the number of plant-based and plant-forward dishes on offer, ensure sustainable sourcing policies are in place, and lead on initiatives to drive down environmental impacts when it comes to your in house catering, for example by taking steps to reduce food waste.

Recycling schemes

Become a waste-conscious haven with a circular economy mindset. Carry out a waste audit to identify recycling and reusable opportunities. Ditch disposables and single-use plastics and opt for crockery, metal cutlery and washable mugs. Create a "sharing is caring" culture by providing or encouraging reusable, takeaway cups and containers, replace individual bins with central recycling stations, and introduce a "free-stuff" area where people can donate items.

Training and education

Carry out workshops and training sessions to educate staff about the importance of sustainability, the environmental impact of their actions, and how they can contribute to positive change. The WWF has a range of business resources and insights to help you achieve your environmental goals, including the award-winning film, Our Planet: Our Business.

Green employee benefits

As well as cycle-to-work schemes, help people work more from home or reduce their commute with flexible work arrangements. Initiatives such as Climate Perks can have a positive impact on the carbon footprint by helping to reduce people’s dependence on holiday flights. Opting for a green pension plan, as standard, is a key step that can help to ensure investments aren’t being channelled into environmental destruction.


Give back by providing paid volunteering days so employees can support the environmental issues close to their heart, or organise a company volunteering day that people can sign up for. As well as showcasing your commitment to sustainability, it provides a rewarding experience that positively impacts people’s wellbeing and nature.  These simple tips are just a few of the measures businesses can put in place to pave the way to an environmentally-friendly future. For a deeper dive, WWF-UK’s Sustainable Office Guide provides advice on saving energy and water, reducing plastic, and calculating your footprint across several critical areas.

The importance of employee engagement in sustainability

Engaged employees help ensure your sustainability success and bring business benefits. 

Commitment and ownership 

When your people understand and believe in what you’re doing, they’re more likely to join in and take responsibility to achieve sustainability goals. Involving your team in shaping sustainability efforts can help boost their sense of purpose, connect them to your values, and build company loyalty. This engagement could pay dividends in terms of higher employee retention and increased productivity and performance.   

Innovation and creativity 

Employees often have valuable sustainability ideas for offices based on their experiences and expertise in their roles. By including them in the process, you can tap into this collective knowledge and creativity to create a culture of innovation. 

Brand reputation 

A strong commitment to sustainability, matched with action to drive down environmental impacts right across your business enhances your reputation as a responsible and socially conscious business. This positive brand image can help to attract customers and top talent who value companies that match their own values. 


We need to do more to tackle the climate crisis and halt and reverse the destruction of nature. As more governments and decision-makers start to act, and consumers demand greater change, companies whose employees are committed to sustainable practices are better positioned to adapt and thrive in an evolving world. 


There will be no business as usual unless we tackle the twin threats of climate change and nature loss. By empowering employees, companies can foster the innovation and responsibility that drives positive environmental change. 


For a complete overview of how businesses can take responsibility for tackling environmental impacts, including waste, energy, plastics and more, read the WWF-UK’s Sustainable Office Guide.  


To get  1-2-1 advice about your business, book an appointment with one of our V-Hub Digital Advisers.  

The Vodafone WWF partnership launched a million phones for the planet programme to help accelerate and refine Vodafone's circular economy strategy by increasing the number of traded in, refurbished and recycled devices. Read more here.

WWF works with businesses of all sizes in many different ways. If you feel inspired to see how your business can join forces with WWF, you can reach out to them at business@wwf.org.uk

Sustainable Business Growth For SMEs

Discover guidance on sustainable growth for SMEs with WWF and The Carbon Trust.

Free one-to-one support

Available Monday to Friday, 8am-6pm, our friendly team are here to provide guidance and support on the topics that matter to your business.

0808 239 8345

Content made available to you on this website is for general information purposes. Independent advice should be obtained for your needs. Read full disclaimer

Call me back