How to succeed in sustainability with only a little trying


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More and more corporate upper management understands the picture that in these tough financial times, going “green” or being more sustainable is not an idealistic statement of millionaires or old hippies, but is smart business and engineering management. While technology can help reduce one’s energy use, water use, and waste generation, etc., ultimately for such a program to sustain long-term benefits for the company, its employees have to cooperate and make it a part of their everyday lives to work with these technologies. How can companies get employees and other stake-holders to keep their interest up in a sustainability program in the long term? There is no one answer to this question, but here are 3 possible strategies to engender cooperation.

  1. Keep it Simple. The biggest source of opposition to such a program even among people sympathetic to its goals for the company and the Earth is that it involves more work. People feel overwhelmed at work more and more, that they are doing more with less support. And, of course, there is more and more involvement in home duties, as well. A company begins a well-intentioned “green” program and workers think that there will be more things they have to do (and paperwork to fill out) as part of their duties. So make it easy. At least start up with items that involve no work at all, such as installing motion sensors to turn off their lights or easily programmable thermostats (through a Smart Phone) for individual comfort. Minimize paperwork to prove compliance.
  2. Make It Fulfilling. People, in general, get excited at the start of a new, interesting program like a “green” or energy-saving program, but lose that fresh feel for it in time. How can one maintain enthusiasm for (and compliance with) such a program? A good way is to develop a regular internal “newsletter” of some type to chart the progress of your program. Let employees know just how the company is benefiting from the “green” program – how much lower the carbon footprint is, how much less waste has to be disposed, etc. And, most important, how much money the company has saved by these initiatives. Perhaps the company can put back some portion of the money saved and return it to the employees in terms of a party or in a gift (i.e., provide each a free CFL or a free energy saving tips) to take home. Another idea is to set up on an Intranet site a forum for employees to ask questions, receive answers, and share experiences.
  3. Reward and Punishment. Professionals say it works for mice and for children, so why not for adults, too. Some companies have included individual behavior as a goal on employee’s annual review and will get increased bonuses and other benefits from meeting these goals. It is critical, of course, to be very clear on what the goals are to be met and give the employees full direction on how to achieve these goals.

CCES can help your company prepare a smart, sustainability program with maximum financial benefits and engenders cooperation from your employees and stakeholders.

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