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.

Supporting Bike To Work Programs

If your company is looking for ways to foster employee engagement on sustainability practices — and your employees care about saving money, the environment and their own health — you’d be hard pressed to find a better way than supporting a bike to work program. Often employers — and employees — don’t know where to start. Here’s a few ways you can seed interest and launch a successful bicycle commuting program at your business.

Survey Says! Get the best information you can about your employees’ current commuting habits; take a survey and collect data such as how far away they live, who already commutes by bicycle, and who might like to try it out. For those that are already commuting by bike, ask what facilities and support they want to see you implement.

Get Started Training. Some employees might find the notion of biking to work daunting, not knowing what equipment they need, how to dress, even what routes they could take to stay safe. Plan a workshop session for your staff that features veteran bicycle commuters, either from your own company or the local bike shop. Focus on gear, safety, and route-finding (don’t forget Google Maps’ bicycle directions feature!).  Community Cycles, based in Boulder, offers some great information and training for businesses.

Give Bikes a Home. Bicycle commuters of all stripes want to know there’s a place to safely store their wheels during work. If you can handle the minimal space requirement, there’s nothing better than just bringing the bike into the office — it’ll take up about the same space as a couple of chairs against the wall. Alternately designing secure spaces — a room devoted to bicycle storage, or even individual bike lockers — will go a long way toward reassuring employees you support their green commute.

Support the Appearance. If your employees live nearby, they’ll probably barely break a sweat biking to work. But for the rest of them, the need for a professional appearance at work is a major perceived roadblock to bicycle commuting. Providing showers and lockers is the best way to go, but you can also work with what you have — an empty office can become a dressing area, hooks on the backs of doors or spare closets can hold several days’ worth of clean clothes. Make the initial effort, and wait for the response and add amenities as needed.

For more ideas on bicycle commuting and other workplace sustainability practices, please feel free to contact 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.

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. 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.