Encouraging Your Workforce to Go Green

Tue, Feb 21, 2012


When it comes to environmentalism and conservation, many feel that humans pose a very real threat to the future of our planet and the ability of our own species to survive. Most people are content to make individual efforts along the lines of green living, changing their own habits in order to effect change. They may reduce their carbon footprint in small ways (recycling, unplugging electronics, installing compact fluorescent lights, etc.) or make larger adjustments (driving an electric car, installing solar panels, and so on) in order to ensure that they’re doing less harm to the environment through the way they live. But if you run a business in addition to a household, you may be keen to make a more pronounced effort. And you can do this by encouraging your workforce to go green. Here are just a few suggestions to get you going.

A good place to start is by setting an example through your own actions, but if you really want to encourage workers to follow your lead, you’re going to have to provide them with education, a means to go green, and incentives to follow through. So start with helping them to understand your position by setting up your office for eco-friendly operation. Now, you don’t necessarily have to build a LEED certified facility from the ground up. And if you’re leasing office space you may be limited in your ability to enact change. But there are plenty of things you can do with little funding and less damage to facilities.

For starters, simply implement a recycling program. Provide bins for glass, plastic, aluminum, paper, and so on and arrange for the local recycling center to pick up weekly. Or see if any employees are willing to volunteer to do drop-offs. From there you can install CFLs or even LEDs, although the latter may require new fixtures. In some cases, lessors may be willing to work with you on these upgrades since energy conservation will save money on utilities. Along those same lines, you should institute policies that will take your efforts to the next level, like having employees power down electronics whenever they’re not in use. Energy-saver modes and nightly shutdowns will help to conserve, as well. And don’t forget about water conservation; find out if you can install low-flow toilets, motion-sensor faucets, and even a water recycling system for landscaping.

Of course, you want your employees to be green when they’re off the clock as well, and you can offer incentives to encourage them in this area. For one thing, you can set up a system for carpool rewards to cut back on carbon emissions for those that commute. You could also offer discount passes for employees that want to use mass transit. Providing charging stations in premium parking spots for electric or plug-in hybrids couldn’t hurt, either. And instead of seeking trucks for sale, provide green options for company transportation. You may also want to encourage employees to join you in environmental volunteer efforts (tree planting, roadside trash pickup, and even fund-raisers for eco-friendly charities). Every little bit helps, and keeping employees informed about green advances and giving them opportunities to participate can only improve the planet for all of its inhabitants.

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