April 16, 2023 | In the News

Employees are Looking for Eco-Friendly Perks and Opportunities

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Turns out, it is easy being green, and not just on Earth Day.

Take Claire Cook, 36, director of brand marketing and management at Atlassian, a global software company in Union Square, who clocks up many hours volunteering with Billion Oyster Project, a nonprofit restoring oyster reefs in New York Harbor.

And she gets paid to do it by her employer.

Living up to one of Atlassian’s values, “Be the change you seek,” employees get paid their salary daily rate for volunteering with a charitable organization or effort, for up to 40 hours each year.

There’s a donation-matching program, too, for up to $1,000.

The Prospect Heights resident cleans shells on Governors Island and monitors oyster reefs’ growth.

Cook also provides semi-monthly marketing, fund-raising and strategy guidance to Ecochallenge.org, a nonprofit platform educating people on how to live sustainably.

“It’s incredible to see the impact that my foundation time has on these organizations,” said Cook, who credits the company’s sustainability strategy as a testament to her five-plus-year tenure.

For many workers like Cook, employer commitments to the planet are top priorities.

According to a 2021 IBM study, around 70% of employees and job seekers indicated that an employer sustainability program makes the company more appealing.

A recent Honeywell survey showed that 91% of American workers would forgo pay or job perks if the same cost was reinvested into reducing their workplace’s environmental impact.

Chris Shipley, organizational consultant and co-author of “The Empathy Advantage: Leading the Empowered Workforce” (Wiley) isn’t surprised.

“Increasingly, workers are looking for values-aligned employers,” Shipley said. “What some will no doubt see as ‘woke’ perks, these benefits signal that the company is invested in what matters deeply to its employees.”

When workers feel a sense of belonging with shared values, they feel supported and safe at work, Shipley said. “They engage more deeply and authentically.”

Codi, a flexible office space platform based in the Flatiron District, walks the walk with its commuting stipend which includes Ridepanda, a company offering e-bikes, e-scooters and pedal bikes to employers’ benefits plans.

Codi will foot the $89 Ridepanda monthly bill for a pedal-assisted Roadster e-bike for its employees.

COO Ash Straughn, 34, of Long Island City, uses it several times a week for quick errands, to exercise along the waterfront, and occasionally to travel across the 59th Street Bridge to the office.

Straughn enjoys knowing it’s eco-friendly while gaining another benefit: fresh air.

“If you don’t want to be stuck in a car emitting what we’re contributing to the environment and want to get the fresh air, it’s a great perk. It’s super convenient,” said Straughn.

Additionally, “being able to use it for your overall health and wellness is a benefit,” she said.

“It’s a great perk. It’s super convenient,” Straughn says.Olga Ginzburg

A former athlete, Straughn also credits the e-bike with helping her regain mobility after injury.

Plus, “there’s this dopamine effect of feeling happier. Once you get to wherever you’re going, the level of focus you can put on something is significantly more than people draining out screen time on their commute.”

Companies are creatively offering sustainable perks. Bank of America offers up to a $1,000 rebate to employees on a purchase or lease of a SunPower solar system.

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Additionally, eligible employees can receive $4,000 for the purchase of an electric vehicle, or $2,000 for a new lease. Hixny, an Albany-based health information exchange, offers free StartOrganic online gardening classes to its workforce.

Button, an AI-powered mobile experience platform, purchases carbon credits to offset employee travel.

Bread Financial, a tech-forward financial services company in the Flatiron District, curates volunteer opportunities and has a matching-gift program.

An environmental committee meets monthly to discuss initiatives such as an electronic recycling drive and distribution of plant clippings from office greenery.

“Future-forward businesses are setting ambitious, world-changing corporate sustainability and purpose commitments,” said Trevor Langdon, president and co-founder of Green Standards, a Toronto-based global company in sustainable office decommissioning.

“Employees want their employers to live up to the big net zero goals they have committed to and to do so in small and large ways. It’s one thing to have a big climate promise; it’s another to execute on it day to day. They want their employers to walk the walk.”

Source: New York Post


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