How to make a workplace more environmentally friendly as a locum

4 September 2023  •  Locum
How to make a workplace more environmentally friendly as a locum

As a locum nurse or clinician, you have an opportunity to make a big difference, no matter how long or short your placement. And not just to the patients themselves. As workplaces in every sector step up to their climate action responsibilities, individuals have a role to play in creating smarter, more resilient places of work and ensuring healthcare continues to lead by example. Here, we cover how to make a workplace more environmentally friendly as a locum.

Why is being environmentally friendly important?

Many of the simplest ways of making a workplace more environmentally friendly may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But, with 1.5 million people working in the NHS alone, such small steps can add up to a giant leap forward towards greater resiliency, building a greener, more resilient place of work that’s beneficial to both people and the planet.

How to make a workplace more environmentally friendly as a locum

Carry out your own environmental audit

One of the extra ways workplaces benefit from employing locum staff is that they get to have a new pair of eyes assessing how things are done – or not done. So, take advantage of your ‘newbie’ status by casting a critical eye over every little thing, making notes of how energy might be saved or resource use made smarter or more efficient.

For example, take a look at energy use across the workplace. Not turning lights off or unplugging equipment when it is not needed may seem insignificant, but the data speaks for itself. When the NHS launched Operation TLC to make six sites at Barts Hospital more environmentally friendly, they managed to reduce carbon emissions by 2,200 tonnes a year just by encouraging all staff to be mindful of the amount of power they were using. It’s also worth taking a look at water usage – could this be made more efficient? – as well as things like the meals and snacks on offer for colleagues. Encouraging your new workplace to embrace ‘Meat-Free Monday’, for example, can help reduce its overall carbon footprint while also promoting healthier, more sustainable lifestyles for all.

Be a recycling guru

Recycling rates have been sky-rocketing over recent years, reducing waste and helping accelerate the transition towards the circular economy. But still, more needs to be done. Clinics and hospitals can be busy, stressful places and the temptation to throw waste into the wrong bin is always strong.

Again, however, pushing for small changes in behaviour can make a big difference. According to the NHS’s own figures, it is still sending around 15% of all waste to landfill. That’s equivalent to 47,000 tonnes of garbage, much of which could be recycled and reused.

Of course, almost everyone now knows the importance of recycling. But often it’s hard to do, even with the best of intentions. So, again, use your status as a locum worker to take a fresh look at how things are done. Are the different recycling bins clearly marked? Are they conveniently located, especially for busy workers? If you see room for improvement, get in touch with facilities management and share your ideas for a greener workspace.

Promote the benefits of carpooling

Building a more environmentally friendly workplace begins with the journey to work. While much progress has been made in the shift towards more sustainable travel habits, there is still much more to be done.

As a new locum worker, suggest setting up a car-pooling scheme, allowing workers on the same shift patterns to share driving duties. Carpooling schemes have also been shown to boost team morale, bringing workers together and creating stronger, friendlier bonds that can even improve standards of patient care.

Encourage colleagues to get on their bikes

One of the biggest barriers deterring more people from cycling to their jobs is a lack of proper facilities at the workplace.

As a new locum worker, you can make a lasting impact on commuting behaviour by working with a clinic or hospital’s facilities management team to make cycling more attractive. Make sure there are showers for cycling colleagues to use after their commute. As well as showers, cyclists also want secure parking spots for their bikes, as well as proper storage for things like helmets and cycling clothes.

The benefits of getting more colleagues cycling to work will also deliver more than environmental benefits. Most notably, it can help improve employee health and, significantly, allow nurses and clinicians to serve as role models for their patients, promoting the benefits of an active lifestyle.

Think and aim big

Both the NHS and private healthcare providers are committed to achieving net-zero growth by 2050 at the latest. They are aiming big – and actively encouraging all workers, including locum healthcare professionals, to get involved and contribute their ideas. The NHS runs regular staff consultations on environmental matters. Be part of them and make your voice heard. There are also mechanisms in place for local environmental measures to be scaled-up and so make a real difference. Again, make full use of the resources and opportunities available to you and make sure your voice is heard.

Make sure changes go beyond the workplace

All of the above can help create a more environmentally friendly workplace, allowing even the shortest-serving locum to have a lasting impact on employee health, well-being and overall sustainability levels. To ramp up such impacts even further, work with colleagues to ensure these changes – for example, a stronger commitment to recycling or to smarter energy and water use – continue beyond the workplace and are put into practice at home too.

Refer a friend

For every candidate referral we receive from you, we have committed to growing one tree with WeForest in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, as a thank you. This is because we know how important it is to restore the forests around our world.

Not only will you be helping make the earth cooler, but when you introduce a candidate to us who is not on our database and we are successful in placing them in a position, and they have worked approximately 200 hours, we will pay you a minimum of £250*. After that, the payment scale ascends so after the third referral; you would receive £1300*.

Find out more about our referral scheme here.

Remember, every small effort counts, and collectively, these actions can contribute to a more environmentally friendly workplace. Encourage your fellow locum professionals to join in creating a greener and more sustainable healthcare environment.

You can find the most suitable jobs for you by using a healthcare recruitment agency. For more information on how to make a workplace more environmentally friendly as a locum and worldwide and UK healthcare jobs, please don't hesitate to contact Globe Locums today.

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