SurePayroll Main Street Insights: Small Businesses Going Green Regardless of ROI

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SurePayroll's survey shows that most small businesses value the concept of being eco-friendly over cost savings associated with being green

Even if their specific concerns vary, the fact that so many small business owners have taken a genuine interest in going green both locally and nationally is inspiring

A survey conducted this month by online payroll service SurePayroll found that three out of four small business owners have embraced green initiatives, from recycling to telecommuting.

The motive behind small businesses going green is clear: help the environment, even if the ROI is not significant. Of businesses who consider themselves green, the majority (71%) choose to implement green practices simply because they want to be environmentally conscious, while the rest choose to do so to save money.

Out of all of the green businesses, half noticed an ROI of around 5% to 10%, while the other half have yet to see one. Yet the lack of significant ROI has not deterred small businesses from implementing such practices.

"The biggest challenge for small business owners is typically cutting costs, so it's refreshing to see that most small business owners are going green simply for the good of the environment," says SurePayroll President Michael Alter. "As the foundation of the economy, small businesses can do well to set an example for larger corporations and even homeowners."

Direct Deposit's Impact on Environment and Cost-Savings:

Ironically, the 25% of surveyed business owners who don't consider themselves green, in fact are environmentally conscious at least in one aspect: the mere fact that they use direct deposit. Annually, SurePayroll processes 75% of its customer payrolls through direct deposit - more than $3.75 billion in payroll payments.

A study by the 2009 PayItGreen Alliance, a nonprofit that represents 11,000 financial institutions, showed that if one U.S. employee paid bi-monthly used direct deposit, they would save one pound of paper per year, eliminate the release of four gallons of wastewater, eliminate the release of one pound of greenhouse gases and save a business approximately $176.

According to Alter, implementing company-wide direct deposit is often the first and easiest step to creating a significant positive impact for the environment. The Consumer Federation of America revealed in 2008 that 76% of employees who don't have access to direct deposit say they would use it if they had the option.

"As an online payroll provider, we've always recognized the demand and necessity for direct deposit and are seeing more and more small business employees taking advantage of it," says Alter. "It is becoming as much an issue of cutting down the amount of wasted paper and energy as it is convenience."

Beside direct deposit, the SurePayroll survey found that small businesses help the environment by:

-Recycling - 93%
-Giving employees reusable office mugs - 79%
-Using environmentally friendly office supplies - 75%
-Limiting use of electricity/energy - 68%

The Economic Outlook for Green:

Even though some small businesses underestimate the environmental impact of switching to direct deposit, the majority still think any type of initiative is worthwhile. On a broader scale, survey respondents indicated city-wide green projects are great for both the environment and the small business community, though they said they don't know enough about what President Obama plans to do to tackle environmental issues. Small business owners are divided when it comes to deciding what environmental policy change would most benefit small business. The top concerns are investing in clean/green technology to create more jobs, and providing incentives for energy conservation to help reduce monthly energy bills.

"Even if their specific concerns vary, the fact that so many small business owners have taken a genuine interest in going green both locally and nationally is inspiring," says Alter. "It's another example of just how important small businesses are to the well-being of our country."

About SurePayroll:

Voted Editor's Choice for best payroll service by PC Magazine, a Top 100 Product by Accounting Today and winner of the Stevie Award for eCommerce Customer Service Team of the Year, SurePayroll is America's largest full-service online payroll service and honoree of the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Businesses award two years in a row.

SurePayroll is passionate about small businesses and their payroll. The company is dedicated to providing an extremely friendly and simple payroll experience -- at a price small business owners can afford.

In addition to its payroll and ClickFREETM tax file and pay service -- which allows a user to complete the entire payroll process in minutes -- SurePayroll offers a suite of online services designed specifically for small business, including HR and compliance resources, 401(k) retirement solutions, health insurance and workers' compensation products.

SurePayroll also offers a private-label and co-branded payroll service to accountants and banking partners to offer payroll processing to their small business clients.

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Lauren Eichmann
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