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5 Steps to Engaging Employees in Your Sustainability Efforts

Posted by Danielle Marquis

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March 16, 2015 at 2:00 AM

Engaging employees is at the core of any successful Energy Management Program and a key best practice for reducing costs and overhead. Employees frequently end up being the biggest champions of energy efficiency. Nurturing employee engagement is a win-win on many important levels. What’s more, a robust energy program can help employee morale just as much as it helps a corporation’s bottom line.  Not only do employees help corporations meet their energy goals—especially when offered incentives—but an effective program gives employees a much-needed sense of purpose and focus on that goal.


Hunter Lovins, a sustainable development expert, writes in an article on employee engagement that the “Gallop-Healthways Wellbeing Index, which each year surveys employees about their level of job satisfaction, reports that the single most important way to engage workers is to enable them to make progress in meaningful work.” With American workers rating their job dissatisfaction at a record high, finding strategies that empower workers is critical. As it happens, sustainability and commitment dovetail nicely.


Lovins adds, “The antidote to unhappy workers is to engage them. And it turns out that one of the best ways to do that is to enable them to be part of implementing a company’s commitment to sustainability.”


As competition for the best and brightest talent increases, an energy efficiency program makes a company more attractive to prospective employees and clients, retains workers longer, saves energy and reduces costs. Here are five of our favorite tips for successfully engaging your employees in energy efficiency.


1. Create a Green Dream Team


Creating a team of motivated leaders and organizers will give your energy program momentum, which is critical.  You want to get them excited! This team, which should include representatives of every aspect of the business, can help devise a comprehensive strategy to spread excitement and secure buy-in throughout the organization.


2. Strategize


Start with a basic strategy, but then accept input from the dream team, gaining their buy in.  Developing a clear framework allows your team to focus their efforts toward a central goal and helps inspire your employees to understand the purpose of the program. 


3. Educate to Integrate


To ensure employees’ active participation in an energy management program, they will need to be well informed. Facility managers need to know where inefficiencies exist in order to rectify problems. Educating all your employees will make them more receptive to your energy management program and ultimately be the root of a successful or unsuccessful program. People love to know when they are doing something right, so be sure to applaud their efforts.  By celebrating the little milestones, you can help the team reach the bigger goals.  If the environment changes, such as increased use of daylighting, make sure everyone in the organization understands why and realizes that each step is a milestone on the way to a larger goal.


4. Reward Smart Practices


Find ways in which you can incentivize energy efficiency practices. Even simple awards, like a coffee gift card or a small trophy, are appreciated. Linking energy savings to employee bonuses is one of the most effective ways to build engagement. Lovins says in the same article, “The leading companies tie achievement of their sustainability goals to employee bonuses.”


5. Maintain and Monitor


One common mistake companies make is not maintaining their energy program after its initial launch. You do not want your program dying on the vine like most of them inevitably do.  You’ll have more success if you remember that when it comes to energy efficiency and employee engagement, neither is a one-and-done solution.  You need to constantly update employees and upgrade equipment to be effective. You can continually improve employee behavior through information, incentives, training and management review.  Don’t let your gains erode after the initial wave of enthusiasm—feed the momentum by introducing new strategies, competitions and incentives that will keep your employees motivated to stay on the cutting edge of sustainability.


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Topics: Proposition 39, Higher Education, Multi-Family Buildings, Utility Programs Division, Sustainability Branding, CII Division, Healthcare, Food Processing, Refrigerated & Freezer Warehouses, Warehouse/Distribution, Industrial


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