Eco-conscious employees

Posted on 10 Dec 2009 by The Manufacturer

How can companies engage most effectively with employees to make them more environmentally responsible? Reinforcement and reward is part of the solution, says Rachel Mountain at EcoSecurities.

Underpinning any successful climate change mitigation strategy is the need to fully engage employees at every stage of the process.

In practice, this means employees must be helped to understand the rationale behind the characteristics and objectives of your company strategy; be armed with the right information in order to carry out what is expected of them with genuine enthusiasm; and understand how their work can contribute to the achievement of this strategy.

EcoSecurities has found that there are four main components to a successful climate change campaign, which cover a range of activities designed to achieve maximum employee engagement.

1. Consultation
2. Communication
3. Education
4. Participation

1 Consultation — Collaboration is the key to successful change
In order to achieve maximum engagement, the whole business, including employees should be consulted and involved at the very beginning of the design of a climate change strategy.

It is vital that employees feel part of the decision-making process when selecting the right blend of internal emission reduction activities whether these include changing energy use, cutting down on paper communication, or implementing more extensive recycling schemes. By getting feedback on what employees feel is appropriate and realistic, the chances of them buying into the process are increased.

2 Communication — Getting the right messages to your employees
From the outset, employees need to fully understand the aims of the environmental objectives in order to fully engage with, support and participate in the process of achieving them.

The key to ensuring understanding of organisational goals is the effective planning and deployment of an integrated communications strategy, which delivers meaningful and relevant environmental messages that reflect the brand values and culture of your organisation.

3 Education — arming employees with knowledge to join the fight against climate change
Strategically positioned posters and stickers near energy intensive appliances with key information and statistics will provide the impetus for employees to be aware of the impact that their day-to-day work has on the environment and take action to reduce it. Mouse mats, positioned next to computers, could also provide a source of educational messages.

4 Participation — developing, recognising and rewarding the right environmental behaviours
The concept of reducing emissions needs to filter through the whole organisation in order to achieve the stated objectives. If real behavioural change is to be achieved and sustained, then reinforcement, recognition and reward of those behaviours needs to take place on an ongoing basis.

To summarise, in order to achieve real and sustainable employee engagement, organisations must consider the following when devising their climate change programmes:

• Be open, honest and transparent. Be clear about the organisation’s motivations and ensure they will stand up to scrutiny. Every claim should be backed up by easily accessible information.

• Make sure your company’s green messages effectively filter from board level to frontline staff. • Get the internal communications channel, or mix of channels, and the timing right. Don’t hide your communications in an unused area of your company intranet.

• Make it fun! Climate change should not all be about doom and gloom! Employee engagement is all about education and empowerment — reducing your emissions should be an enjoyable uplifting experience.

• Educate employees and stimulate real behaviour changes — this could be through activity days, focus groups, or employee incentive schemes — to guarantee buy-in and ensure employees are communicating your green business values appropriately.

• Ensure that the messages conveyed to employees are coherent and that your internal and external faces are aligned.

• Be consistent, coherent and holistic. Eliminate contradictory signals.

• Make change simple and easy for employees, understand their level of knowledge and avoid jargon. Speak a language that they will understand to add value to your brand and environmental efforts.

This article was written by Rachel Mountain, global marketing manager at EcoSecurities, one of the world’s largest developers and suppliers of emissions reductions.