Creating a sustainable onboarding journey: 9 Tips for a greener welcome

Appical Team
Jessica Heijmans
August 30, 2023
min read
Table of Contents
It's no secret that sustainability is a must-have for any successful business these days. But did you know that onboarding is an excellent opportunity to promote environmental responsibility in the workplace? By incorporating eco-friendly practices from the get-go, you can show your new hires that you're serious about making a positive impact on the environment and inspire them to do the same. That's why we've put together some practical tips for creating a more sustainable onboarding journey.

Why you should pay attention to sustainability during onboarding

Are you trying to attract and retain top talent? These days, job seekers are looking beyond salaries and job titles, and evaluating a company's commitment to sustainability. In fact, nearly 75% of millennials are willing to accept a lower salary to work for a company that prioritizes sustainability, according to a study by Deloitte. Not to mention, a whopping 56% of professionals are more likely to stay in a company with a sound sustainability agenda (GetSmarter).

So how can you demonstrate your company's commitment to sustainability? By integrating it into the onboarding process! This not only sets you apart from competitors but also helps new hires understand and embrace your eco-friendly values from the start. This sets the tone for their employee journey and forms the groundwork for a sustainable and positive work culture. Plus, a strong sustainability program has a positive impact on your brand image and the planet.

Let’s go to the next step: What can companies do to make their onboarding journey more eco-friendly?

9 tips for a greener welcome

Now that you understand the importance of incorporating sustainability into the onboarding (and preboarding) phase, let's delve into the tactics for accomplishing it.

1.   Minimize paper (waste)

Instead of printing handbooks, contracts, and other onboarding materials, consider using digital documents. By switching from printed materials to digital documents, you can significantly reduce your paper waste, mailing costs, and storage space (plus, save some money while you're at it).

Switching to a digital handbook is not only eco-friendly but also practical. By making employee handbooks and resources available in a digital format, you make it easier for new hires to access and search for information. No more flipping through pages or losing important documents - everything your new hires need is just a click away.

Plus, why not go the extra mile and create a seamless digital signature process for completing legal documents? You can integrate this into your digital onboarding process.

2. Create a digital onboarding process

But why stop there? Take your onboarding process to the next level by creating a digital or in-app onboarding process. A couple of things you can do online:

  • Introduce new hires to their colleagues with a digital contact finder, video or fun quotes
  • Let your colleagues reach out to your new hire (via your onboarding platform, mail or LinkedIn)
  • Share a glossary with the terminology used in your office; think of abbreviations or company jargon
  • Create a virtual tour of the workplace to familiarize your new hire with the office
  • Ask for feedback via short engagement polls during the onboarding process
  • Share information about your company’s history, vision or goals through quizzes and videos

By conducting part of the onboarding process virtually, you not only help the environment by reducing carbon emissions but also save precious time and resources. 

Added bonus:  Stress-Free Onboarding Experience

But it's not just about being eco-friendly. Getting your new hires ready for their first days can have a big impact on their stress levels. Imagine walking into a room full of friendly faces, instead of feeling like a lost puppy. Knowing what to expect and what to do can make all the difference on that nerve-wracking first day (and the following weeks).

Moreover, incorporating interactive elements like videos, quizzes, and feedback opportunities is a great way to spice up the onboarding experience for your new team members. It's not just about enjoyment, though. Breaking down information into bite-sized chunks and making it accessible anytime helps your newbies digest it without feeling overwhelmed. This way, your newbies won’t be drowning in a sea of information

[.callout-small]Tip: Consider setting up a 100-day plan, mapping out the first months of your new hires’ time within your organization.[.callout-small]

3.   Sustainable Swag in your welcome kit

Instead of offering new hires the conventional welcome kits filled with disposable items like pens and notepads, why not opt for sustainable alternatives? Consider providing eco-friendly goodies such as:

  • Recycled (or erasable) notebooks
  • A reusable coffee mug that new hires can use in the office, or a travel cup if they have a commute
  • Eco-friendly stationery items such as recycled notebooks, bamboo pens, and plantable seed paper.
  • An indoor plant to add a touch of greenery to their home or to the office (bonus: it's great for their well-being too)
  • Send artificial flowers instead of disposable flowers

And remember, don't forget to use sustainable packaging to complete the eco-friendly experience.

4.   Implement a buddy program

Pair up your new hires with some of your experienced employees who can show them the ropes and introduce them to your company culture. This helps them quickly assimilate and understand sustainable practices within your organization. 

A mentorship program also creates a supportive environment. Your new hires might just find a trusted confidant to share their experiences and seek advice. Plus, they'll learn all sorts of tips and tricks to carry out their tasks in the company, boosting their confidence in their new roles.

5. Share your sustainability goals

Introduce your sustainability initiatives early on. This can be done through presentations, videos, or even a simple conversation. Share information about what your company is currently doing to promote sustainability and how your new hires can play a part. By openly discussing your sustainability goals, you not only educate your new hires about your company's values but also allow them to contribute and get involved. 

6. Train effectively with virtual training sessions

In many cases, on-site training courses can be replaced by virtual training sessions.

With software tools like Google Meet, Skype, Zoom, Slack, or Microsoft Teams (and maybe even some cool options like Warp VR), you can bring the training experience right to your new hires' screens. You can invite guest speakers and trainers, share screens, and communicate in real-time, just like you would in a traditional training session. 

Plus, the best part? You can record these sessions for later reference. This is particularly beneficial for new hires who may need to revisit certain concepts or refresh their understanding. By having access to these recordings, they can continue their learning journey at their own pace, without relying solely on their memory.

All of these steps can reduce carbon emissions associated with travel while still providing your new hire with a valuable learning experience.

7.  Encourage sustainable commuting:

By providing resources and information to new employees about sustainable transportation options, companies can actively contribute to reducing their carbon footprint. 

Let your new hires know how they can easily get to the office or workspace by train, metro, or bus. And go the extra mile by encouraging sustainable commuting. Consider providing travel cards that can be utilized not only for their office travels but also for weekend adventures. Additionally, you can introduce a biking initiative to further support eco-friendly transportation methods. 

These additional office benefits are a great way to support your employees and promote sustainable commuting methods.

8. Prioritize employee well-being

Sustainability isn't just about saving the planet - it's also about keeping your employees happy and healthy. Integrate sustainable practices into your onboarding process that align with promoting employee well-being.

  • Educate your new hires about the various (flexible) working options available to them:  Do they have the option to work remotely? Can they take a break to visit the gym during their lunch hour?
  • Offer tips and advice on how to maintain correct posture while sitting at their desks.
  • Provide details about the various physical activities available: Can your employees join in group workouts with their colleagues? Are there any sweet deals on sports programs?
  • Encourage your new hires to take regular breaks and spend time outdoors during lunch, before work, or even during walking meetings.

9. Ask them! Fresh perspectives

One of the best ways to create a sustainable onboarding journey is by including your new hires in the process. Ask for their input and ideas on how to make the onboarding journey more sustainable. This not only empowers them but also brings fresh perspectives to the table. You could:

  • Create a feedback system or survey where new hires can share their thoughts on sustainable practices within the company.
  • Organize brainstorming sessions or workshops to encourage new employees to come up with innovative ideas for sustainability in the workplace.
  • Recognize and reward employees who propose sustainable initiatives, further promoting a culture of sustainable thinking.

By involving new hires in shaping the sustainable onboarding journey, you show that their opinions and ideas matter, building a sense of ownership and engagement.

As you've already discovered, there are many ways to make your onboarding journey more eco-friendly: from encouraging sustainable commuting to prioritizing employee well-being. So go ahead and implement the practical tips that work for your organization to make a positive impact on the environment and your new hires!

Best of luck on your sustainable onboarding journey!

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