Just because sustainability is a personal issue for you, does not mean that you should have to abandon it when you get to work. Professional does not mean wasteful. Instead of the staid “take a reusable mug to work” advice that you’ve seen on every office handout since 1994, make it more fun. This post is both for employers who want to create a greener, more proactive workplace and for employees who want to improve their work environment and reap the rewards of more conscientious living. Any of these ideas are up for grabs- like one? Take it to work, tell your employees, tell your co-workers, tell your boss.
We aren’t going to throw ideas at you on what to do, rather give you suggestions on how to make the implementation of the ideas more effective.
- Having a time limit on green ventures means that initiatives don’t drag on, become burdensome afterthoughts and eventually get abandoned by the wayside. A short, successful, fun change may be something that is picked up naturally, especially if the competition/challenge is done regularly, like twice a year.
- Work with your calendar: Don’t pick the busiest time of year and expect staff to be excited. Don’t start an electricity saving competition in the height of summer or winter.
- Get staff involved: have them suggest the initiative, and the incentives! You may be surprised at what you learn. Starting off with a competition to get the best green challenge idea will get those mental juices flowing, and will tap you in to the ‘green priorities’ that your employees have- you may want to suggest all organic food in the cafeteria, but they would rather carpool and have bike-to-work days; it will be far easier to work with the current than against it. Make sure that your incentives are actually rewards that staff will work for.
Finally: Survey. The most effective way to achieve success is to cut the wheat from the chaff- find out what worked, and what did not. Never repeat what did not work unless you have a completely different take on the matter. At the end of a certain period: month, 6 months, a year, survey the favorite challenges and rewards. Repeat but don’t beat them into the ground.
Green challenges at work, incentives that work
Ask. Providing icecream cake parties for employees that are intolerant to lactose will not get you very far. At the same time outdoor picnics on sunny days, group lunches, and outings can be great ways to reward while simultaneously creating office cohesion. Flex days, hours off, work-from-home days are also great ways to foster a relaxed work environment that shows that you care about the work/life balance, understanding that your employees have other responsibilities that you are willing to make room for: children, doctor’s appointments, families, emergencies, holidays. Make sure your rewards work with office policy and do not create animosity or resentment, and reward the whole team every once in awhile- you have a hard working staff and they deserve to know that you recognize that. Statistically, work places where staff feel appreciated and positive are more efficient and effective, and have a lower staff turnover.
Employees: Feel strongly that some of these endeavours should be adopted in your work place? Be the staff member who poses these ideas to your board or your boss- it won’t hurt to be the most pro-active person in the office!