How to Train Your Hospitality Staff to Be More Sustainable

Across all industries operating sustainably is no longer a choice —  it’s a business imperative. 

Outside of the moral obligations to reduce our environmental impact, consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of environmental issues. Hotels, restaurants, and other establishments must prioritise sustainability to remain competitive. 

To do this effectively it’s important to create a workplace culture focused on environmental performance. But how do you foster a culture of sustainable improvement? And, how can you strain your staff to be more sustainable in 2024?

In this guide we’ve done the hard work for you, outlining practical tips and tricks  to get your staff championing sustainability this year. And, we wouldn’t be Zero Waste Tech if we didn’t highlight some amazing technology that can help you along the way.

Table of Contents

Start by Assessing Your Current Practices

Conducting an Environmental Audit:

It’s difficult to improve if you don’t know where you’re starting from. So, begin by conducting a thorough environmental audit of your business.

This process involves assessing your energy consumption, waste generation, water usage, procurement practices and staff knowledge. Utilise tools such as the Food Loss and Waste Protocol to quantify your food waste and identify areas for improvement.

Staff Feedback and Input:

Engage your staff in the assessment process by asking for their feedback and insights. Your staff members often have valuable perspectives on where the gaps are and how operations can be improved for sustainability. Consider hosting brainstorming sessions or surveys to gather input from frontline employees.

Utilise Sustainable Reporting Frameworks:

Leverage frameworks like the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) or the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) to structure your sustainability reporting. These frameworks provide standardised guidelines for measuring and reporting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance, facilitating transparency and accountability.

Set Clear and Realistic Goals of what you want to achieve:

Adopting the SMART Framework:

When setting sustainability goals, ensure they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART). For example, aim to reduce energy consumption by 15% within the next year or achieve zero waste to landfill by 2025. Clear and achievable goals provide direction and motivation for staff.

Align with Industry Standards:

Align your sustainability goals with industry standards and best practices, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or industry-specific certifications like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). This demonstrates your commitment to global sustainability initiatives and enhances your credibility.

Provide Training and Resources:

Comprehensive Sustainability Training:

Develop comprehensive training programs covering a range of sustainability topics relevant to the hospitality sector.Offer modules on energy conservation, waste management, water efficiency, sustainable procurement, and responsible guest engagement. Utilise a mix of online courses, in-person workshops, and on-the-job training to accommodate different learning styles.
Many of your partners and suppliers will be able to support your journey and may even be able to help you by hosting sessions with the team.

Hands-On Learning Experiences:

Incorporate hands-on learning experiences to reinforce theoretical knowledge and promote practical skills development.
Organise waste sorting exercises, energy efficiency audits, or sustainable menu planning workshops. These interactive activities allow staff to directly engage with sustainability concepts and understand their impact on daily operations.

Utilise Technology:

Integrating Orbisk into Training Programs:

Leverage technology solutions like Orbisk to enhance sustainability training for hospitality staff.
Orbisk’s AI-powered platform enables real-time monitoring and analysis of food waste, providing actionable insights to reduce waste and optimise purchasing practices.
Incorporate Orbisk data into training sessions to illustrate the financial and environmental benefits of waste reduction efforts.

Customized Training Modules:

Develop customised training modules specifically focused on the data produced by Orbisk. Identifying data trends allows you to develop targeted training courses based on the actionable insights.
The insights provided ensure that actions deliver the greatest benefits. Whether reducing portion size, removing unpopular items from the menu, reducing over ordering or even making side dishes optional.

Monitor and Reward Progress:

Performance Metrics and Dashboards:

Implement performance metrics and dashboards to track progress towards sustainability goals. Utilise key performance indicators (KPIs) such as energy consumption per guest night, waste diversion rates, and water usage intensity. Display these metrics on digital dashboards throughout the workplace to promote transparency and accountability.

Recognition and Incentives:

Recognise and reward staff for their contributions to sustainability efforts. Implement incentive programs that acknowledge individuals or teams who achieve notable sustainability milestones or demonstrate innovative solutions.
Offer tangible rewards such as gift cards, bonuses, or extra time off to incentivise continued engagement and motivation.

Review and Improve:

Continuous Improvement Process:

Establish a continuous improvement process to regularly review and refine sustainability practices and training programs.
Ask for feedback from staff, guests, and other stakeholders to identify areas for improvement and innovation. Use this feedback to update training materials, adjust goals, and implement new initiatives that align with evolving sustainability trends.

Ongoing Education and Professional Development:

Encourage ongoing education and professional development opportunities for staff to stay informed about emerging sustainability practices and technologies. Support staff participation in industry conferences, webinars, and workshops focused on sustainability topics relevant to the hospitality sector.
By fostering a culture of continuous learning, you can ensure your staff remain at the forefront of sustainable hospitality practices.

The Power of Change

Training hospitality staff to be more sustainable in 2024 requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses assessment, goal-setting, training, technology integration, performance monitoring, and continuous improvement.

By implementing these strategies and techniques, your business can empower their staff to drive meaningful change and contribute to a more sustainable future for the industry.

With the right training and commitment, hospitality staff can become champions of sustainability, leading the way towards a greener and more responsible hospitality sector.


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