How to Engage Employees in Green Initiatives

Making the choice to green your business is a significant step towards sustainability, but engaging your staff in the process is equally important for ensuring success with your goals. Employees that are committed to your initiatives will help to maintain momentum when going green, will give everyone at your business a sense of ownership and pride in your achievements, and will help with delegating tasks and distributing projects so everyone can contribute to your sustainability efforts.

So what are some tactics for employee engagement, and how can you keep the green energy high?

Building a green team is a fundamental part of staff involvement (and in fact, the Green Business Bureau considers this to be a prerequisite step for its business certification process). Begin by identifying supporters of sustainability at your business, and ask them to help in guiding and implementing your efforts.

It’s important to include employees that want to take on this task, but it’s also important to have a cross-functional team that represents the different parts of your organization. For smaller companies this may actually mean getting everyone involved, but for a medium-sized business this can mean approaching a select number of individuals from purchasing, facilities, management, marketing, and other departments to build a diverse group with knowledge and access to all areas of your business.

At an initial meeting of your green team, you can assign specific initiatives to the appropriate members, and you can also discuss how to approach all employees to share the group’s ideas and enlist other volunteers. Once your team is assembled, meet on a regular basis to discuss progress, provide any feedback from staff, and look for additional ways to go green.

Ayres Associates organized a battery recycling challenge as a way to engage staff in sustainability.

Adding an element of friendly competition can help to engage all staff (and not just those who have an existing commitment to sustainable practices). As one example, Green Business Bureau member Ayres Associates organized a cross-company battery recycling challenge, collecting old batteries from employees for appropriate recycling through a fun and innovative program. Such contests can be great for building employee morale while also presenting sustainability in an upbeat context. Whether it’s a recycling contest, a waste reuse competition, or even holding an environmental community service day, sustainability can be introduced to your employees in a way that encourages continued dedication to your green goals.

This dedication can also be obtained through incentive-based programs. Preferred parking spots for low-emission vehicles and other green commuting benefits are just one idea for encouraging your staff to adopt sustainable practices. Offer the option to purchase mass transit passes with pre-tax payments and provide recognition to employees that take special steps to conserve energy, water, and other materials. There are tons of possibilities!

Engaging your employees in sustainability can make all the difference for your green business initiatives. By making it a team effort and a positive experience, you’ll be able to achieve your goals more easily and will be changing not only your business practices, but also making a difference for your staff and their involvement in the green movement.

About Marcos Cordero

Marcos J. Cordero is the co-founder and CEO of the Green Business Bureau, a leading green business certification organization that helps small and mid-sized businesses implement sustainability practices.
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1 comments
kathy
kathy

Trying to take a company and its employee's into the green arena can be challenging. Balancing communication between a green team and the employee can help transition green changes to the office environment. One great thing about this idea is that it can role over into personal lives giving a double punch to green awareness. Many people do not realize there are so many easy ways to go green.