Businesses often overlook one simple fact concerning sustainability education, human behaviors are not always rational. Behaviors tend to be based on emotion and culture. A classic example of this is cigarette smoking. Despite the clear negative effects of smoking and the highly visible warning labels, every year people still choose to start doing it.
When attempting to promote sustainable behaviors among employees, you can learn from this recognition that people do not always make rational decisions. When educating employees about your sustainability program, you not only need to give them facts and information but also identify the behaviors you want to change. This is where the concept of social marketing to promote green behaviors will benefit your business.
According to Doug McKenzi-Mohr, author of Fostering Sustainable Behavior: Community Based Social Marketing, he cites three 3 steps to getting the change you want:
- Identify the Behaviors: Organizations need to clearly identify the behaviors they want changed as it relates to their sustainability program. For example, do you want your employee to turn off their computer at night OR do you want them to turn off the power strip that turns off all their equipment.
- Identify the Barriers and Benefits: Once a behavior is identified, then it is important to understand what barriers they are to doing that behavior. If we take the example of turning off their computer, a barrier might be that IT department encourages employees to keep their computer on so they can do updates to systems. Identifying benefits, is being clear to see what is in it for the employee and/or organization. With our computer example, an organization can save over $100 per computer, per year if turned off at night.
- Develop Strategies: Once behaviors have been identified with the barriers and benefits, then building a strategy and plan of action to adopt those practices is the final step. A successful plan will change the culture and the types of behaviors that are emotionally gratifying to your employees.
Here at eco-officiency we are at the cutting edge of fostering sustainable behaviors and understand the psychology behind promoting real change. Contact us for more on how we will help craft and implement a successful plan.