How Businesses Can Show Appreciation for Employees Sustainably

How Businesses Can Show Appreciation for Employees Sustainably


By Adrian Johansen 



There are various priorities involved with running a successful business. Some of these are naturally directed toward the happiness of your employees. Their hard work, commitment, and talent help to make them the most important contributors to the trajectory of your company. As such, having a strong employee recognition program can be an appropriate way to show your appreciation and boost retention.

However, some of the methods businesses use to demonstrate worker appreciation are in direct conflict with another priority. Sustainability is a serious responsibility for all businesses. Indeed, many workers are keen to engage with businesses that put the health of the planet first. Utilizing non-sustainable methods to show employee appreciation is, therefore, a negative approach. You would be both shirking your ethical duties and potentially acting against a key priority for your workforce.

So, we’re going to explore a handful of ways you can sustainably show appreciation for your employees.

Events and Trips

One of the ways you can help colleagues to feel appreciated is by arranging special trips and events for them. This is not only an enjoyable treat, it can also help your workers forge stronger personal bonds with each other away from the workplace. However, you need to make certain these are held to high sustainability standards.

Your first consideration needs to be regarding the transport to such events and trips. This is often the aspect that uses the most significant amount of fuel and generates pollution. In fact, a study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found transportation to be the highest contributor to global greenhouse emissions. If your employees need to drive to the event, arrange for carpooling or hire a bus to take everyone to the intended venue. Wherever possible, your hired transport should be an electric vehicle. Indeed, public transportation can be a wise option as it minimizes both pollution and the impact of extra vehicles on the road.

Your choice of trip or event can be made more sustainable, too. Taking them to a show, bowling alley, convention, or restaurant tends to generate a lot of waste and uses resources like electricity and water. Consider arranging events out in local natural areas. This could include a hike or a picnic with some outdoor activities. However, you should reduce any potential negative impact on the environment. Dispose of trash responsibly and avoid disrupting any wildlife habitats with your presence.

Reward Considerations

Tangible rewards are often the most popular form of employee appreciation. They provide individual workers with something they can use to celebrate their professional achievements. Even inexpensive gifts can provide a valuable morale boost, particularly during difficult periods in a project. However, there are many types of traditional gifts that aren’t exactly green.

Perhaps the most sustainable and valuable reward you can provide your workers is the occasional bonus. But alongside this, you could provide them with reusable travel coffee cups made from recycled materials. Create a gift basket filled with green home spa day products. You could even surprise them with gift certificates for companies providing vegan clothing or homewares.

These rewards are usually most appropriate for in-office employees. Yet, it is just as important to demonstrate your sincere appreciation of remote workers. This helps to mitigate the sense of isolation they may be feeling. Discounts to chain food providers or gift certificates for online retailers are a common option here. But it’s important to first research whether the company you’re using works with sustainable methods of production and general operations. Indeed, if you’re going to send corporate gifts to these workers, you need to ensure you’re using couriers with sustainable delivery methods, too.

Personal Time

Time is valuable to everyone and most people never feel as though they have enough of it. As such, it can be one of the most important ways you can show your appreciation to your employees. Giving them the gift of time also shows you understand how important a resource this is to them and the impact it can have on their lives.

You can take a couple of different approaches to this. Paid days off are the most obvious place to start. This can be especially important if you have workers who tend to experience work addiction due to perfectionism or the cultural compulsion to overwork. Providing additional time off can help these workers achieve a healthier work-life balance and even disrupt the potential for burnout. Not to mention it is a sustainable reward, because employees aren’t using nonrenewable resources at work or making the commute.

But you don’t necessarily have to provide full days off to workers as a reward. You can also allocate hours away from work to engage in personal activities. This could be their hobbies, video games, even company-subsidized education courses in subjects unrelated to their current positions. These are not just opportunities to engage in something enjoyable or enriching on work time. It also utilizes office resources for these actions rather than their home supply at peak hours. This can be most effective if you’re intentional in your overall sustainability efforts by utilizing renewable energy providers.


Showing your appreciation to employees is vital for worker satisfaction and retention. However, it is also your responsibility to make certain the ways you recognize employees aren’t damaging the planet. Be mindful of the resources you use in arranging recognition events and choose rewards from sustainable sources. Remember that providing personal time is both a green approach and a valuable tool for workers to maintain their work-life balance. It can take a little extra effort, but you can make sure your employees see their talents are appreciated in meaningful and environmentally friendly ways.



Image credit: Pexels

Adrian Johansen strives to prioritize sustainability and ethics in all she does. To that end, she writes in multiple fields, applying and promoting sustainable methods and ideals as much as possible. You can find more of her writing here


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