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16 Sep 2020

Meeting employees’ environmental expectations: top environmental benefits for responsible employers

Lockdown has taught us that society’s impact on the environment is undeniable. We’ve seen a significant increase in wildlife and a decrease in pollution. After realising that change is within reach, employees are more focussed than ever on how we can look after our planet, and both consumers and employees want to see more ethically-conscious organisations. If employers don't take these expectations seriously, they run the risk of future irrelevancy.


Achieving authentic sustainability is a long-term goal; one that must come from within every facet of the business. To begin, focus on the elements you can control – things like employee benefits. You deal with employee benefits every day, you know them back-to-front, and you’ve seen first-hand the impact they can have on real people. Why not spread that impact to help the planet, too?

So, here are the top four environmental benefits which are a must-have for your offering.

Give as you earn

A lot of employees want to give to charity but don’t necessarily have a direct and meaningful pathway to it. So, for your employees who want to give back, give as you earn (GAYE) – also known as payroll giving – is a straightforward, simple way to give to charity every month.

By integrating the donation process to your internal benefits platform, employees can skip the hassle of researching charities and setting up payments. Not to mention, GAYE benefits are tax effective, meaning the charity receives your full donation, as opposed to a cut of the amount (as when you donate through other platforms). Employees can pick a cause close to their heart, whether that’s social or community causes like Black Lives Matter, or donating to a specific animal species or part of the world they care about – all while resting assured that the money donated is actually reaching the cause.


While cycle-to-work (C2W) may seem like an obvious choice for those employees looking to up their green impact, it still remains overlooked by many. As more and more people have returned to cycling as a hobby during lockdown, employers can use this interest to promote C2W benefits and emphasise their green contributions, too.

Bikes and biking can be an expensive hobby (although, arguably not as expensive as driving), which often puts people off making the leap into cycling daily or investing in a good quality, comfortable bike. With cycle-to-work schemes, employees can save enormous amounts on this expense – up to 42%, according to Halfords.

Like all-things eco, cycling to work has an accumulative impact on the environment; you may not think that one employee commuting via bike rather than car would make a huge difference, but when you consider that, for a five-mile journey each way, this could mean a person puts 2,600 fewer miles on their car each year. How much does that add up to in saved emissions (and petrol costs)? And that’s just for one employee.

Car salary sacrifice

Employee benefits like company cars can also be made greener, with some providers like Tusker offering designated carbon-neutral green car benefits. As electric cars become more mainstream, more reliable and easier to charge, employee benefits like car salary sacrifice must keep pace with the cultural demands and technological developments of our evermore climate-aware society.

For those unable to commit to cycling full-time – and for whom public transport isn’t an option (or is a last resort, during COVID-19) – employers can at least help to make employee driving options more eco-friendly. Despite the fact many employees remain working from home right now, as we shift back to office life, employers can make it easier for their people to access ultra-low emissions vehicles (ULEVs) – like a hybrid or electric car – through a salary sacrifice scheme. Not only is this a more cost-effective way to get a greener vehicle, it also enables employees to get a better quality, more reliable car, which in turn reduces the environmental impact of disposing and manufacturing old/new vehicles.

Holiday buy & volunteering initiatives

Holiday purchase remains one of the most popular salary-sacrifice benefits, but it can also be used as a fantastic way to encourage volunteering initiatives.

Not all businesses can afford to take part in company-wide volunteering days, but the majority of employers can offer holiday buy/sell schemes. While not necessarily a benefit related to sustainability per se, one way employers can position holiday buy as a green benefit – and additionally encourage further engagement with the benefit – is by presenting it as an opportunity to book in volunteering time. Whether this is a local litter-pick on the beach, working in a local food bank or a community garden, employees can take ownership of their paid time off to give back in the way they want to.

Whether you run an organised giving-back scheme or simply communicate the green side of holiday buy, you can rest assured your existing workforce and new talent alike will jump at the chance to get involved.

This article is provided by Benefex.

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