Promoting Sustainable Behaviors in Your Organization

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Green Benefits Influence Employee Satisfaction

Another way that green employers can bring more job satisfaction to employees is to offer green benefits above and beyond the usual benefit package. Depending on the employer that can mean a lot of different things, from offering time off to volunteer for an earth-friendly cause to providing alternative transportation options such as sponsoring a hybrid car purchase.

According to the article, “Renewable Energy Firms Strike Gold with Employee Benefits,” employees at one net carbon neutral company cite a benefit of working there as the opportunity to work with others who share their values to live a “healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.” Plus this small firm of just six employees “encourages morning group workouts, subsidizes gym memberships and grants time off for marathons.” They say these green employee benefits keep them happy and involved.

While businesses have long been concerned about what it would cost to go green, a February 2008 report from Brockmann and Company shows that companies which focus on things such as…

…recycling in the office, reducing energy consumption in the office and use video conferencing or telepresence technologies intensively, have higher customer satisfaction, higher employee satisfaction and higher revenues per employee.

Another report by Greenbiz.com, Toward Engagement 2.0: Creating a More Sustainable Company through Employee Engagement, offers various company case studies of green employee engagement programs and benefits that were provided. Some of the green benefits could include compensation or bonuses, recognition programs, and prizes and incentives for green behaviors.

Visit us if you would like more information on how to increase employee engagement with your businesses sustainability initiatives.

Green Business Operations Brings More Job Satisfaction to Employees

For many people, personal satisfaction comes from a job well done and from being able to help someone achieve a goal. That is why some employees are seeking out employers with green business operations.

According to the May 2012 article, “Sustainability-engaged employees more satisfied, study shows,” employees want to feel that what they do has a positive impact on “social and environmental issues.” Specifically, a recent nationwide study by Rutgers University found that…

…49 percent of workers who have impact opportunities on the job report high satisfaction levels, compared with 24 percent of those who don’t.

Green Employees are happy employees as shown by a 2008 annual survey conducted by the Kenexa Research Institute (KRI) in 13 countries found that organizations that support sustainability initiatives such as recycling and energy conservation have a positive influence on employees’ engagement levels.

The research indicated that employees felt pride, job satisfaction, and a willingness to recommend their employer as a good place to work when employees had a favorable view of the company’s green efforts. In addition, employees saw senior managers in a positive light feeling they were able to deal with challenges while providing a clear direction for the organization. High standards of ethical conduct and a good company reputation were also cited by employees of green organizations.

It’s long been known that workplace culture has a lot of influence on how employees feel about their jobs and whether or not they are actively engaged at work. So it makes a lot of sense that if workers feel good about their company’s efforts to be economically, socially, and environmentally aware that these positive feelings would translate to more job satisfaction.

It’s well-known that when employees are happy they are productive. And working for a company with green business operations seems to bring more job satisfaction. For more information on green business topics, visit us.

Training Employees to Think “Green”

If you’re company is like many, you probably have employee training programs for a variety of different business-related subjects. But have you ever considered offering your employees education on how to think “green?” You know what we mean. Do you teach your employees – formally or informally – how to consider the ecological impact of their actions?

According to the article, “College Graduates Need to be Green to Get Best Career Opportunity,” writer and human resources professional Deborah S. Hildebrand notes that a March 2008 National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) survey:

… found that nearly 65 percent of the companies surveyed indicated that environmental knowledge and green training is a plus in job applicants because they are more likely than their non-green counterparts to have resource-saving ideas that can help cut costs. On top of that, 78 percent of the more than 1,300 participants surveyed felt environmental and sustainability knowledge will increase in importance over the next five years.

In order to create a successful sustainability-training program, Hildebrand offers this advice:

  • Incorporate green education into your company culture, starting with hiring and through performance management
  • Link sustainability practices to work and home life
  • Communicate the impact of environmental concerns on company growth and success
  • Utilize an effective training-delivery process based on what works in your organization
  • Incorporate green initiatives into other areas of the organization such as performance incentives

If you are an employer or an employee seeking further understanding related to the important connection between business and the environment, now is the ideal time to find sustainability education and employee training resources. For more information about embracing a green work environment, contact us.

Employee Engagement Tools: Creating Incentive Programs with Points!

One way to motivate employees to move towards eco-friendly behaviors, is to provide an incentive program for the green actions they perform.  WhiteWave Foods, based in Broomfield, CO, started their own Values in Action program where employees go online to log in everything from their community Involvement, charitable giving, recycling, biking to work and even taking the stairs instead of the elevator!  All these activities are turned into points which are how WhiteWave Responsible Livelihood program quantifies its level of employee participation. These points are then tabulated with employee rewards such as gift cards and other rewards.

WhiteWave created their own internal database to manage their Vales in Action program but you don’t have to. There are two web applications that can do that for you;

Practically Green is a site that allows individuals to track all ‘green’ behaviors they do and equate them with points. It also has a way to tag ‘green’ activities a user would like to do and set goals and calendar reminders. It uses simple gamification methodology so that the points earn up to levels. You can see your points and level against others in the network. This app can be set up for each company customized for the behaviors and activities they want to promote.

One Million Acts of Green is a similar tool to Practically Green in that it does track green activities and behaviors of individuals. This tool is free for Facebook users and for a fee can be set up for each company to customize their own profile with activities.

Employee Engagement Report by NEEF and GreenBiz

The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) in partnership with the GreenBiz group have published a report called, Toward Engagement 2.0: Creating a More Sustainable Company Through Employee Engagement. This report is free for download from both NEFF and GreenBiz websites.

The report provides company case studies and examples of how to create the eco-culture in an organization. It also discusses four key areas to encourage employee engagement with sustainability initiatives. Here is a brief overview of their suggestions:

  1. Green Teams: Companies have found success engaging green teams in the company who can help foster and lead green initiatives.
  2. Volunteerism: Through volunteerism employees become engaged first hand with non profits as well as social issues that exist in communities.
  3. Social Media: Through various company examples, they are finding social media such as discussion forums, are ways that employees can self-organize and contribute to company’s sustainable practices.
  4. Awards and Incentives: Through these external motivations, employees also seem to respond well to being recognized via awards or provided perks and incentives to change behaviors.

Have a Movie Day to Engage Your Employees

There are some amazing and powerful environmental movies that can be a great catalyst for discussion and change within the workplace. Organize a monthly or bi-monthly movie day for your employees to get them more engaged in your green initiatives.  Show an environmental and thought provoking movie either at lunch time or a Friday afternoon.  Grinning Planet has a whole list of environmental movies that you can sort by category.  After the film, engage employees in a discussion of how it applies to the organization and to their personal lives.  Seeing the visual impact of environmental and social issues can be a compelling motivator for change.

Also go to eco-officiency business resources page for more environmental movie recommendations.