CREATING A GREEN CULTURE
Behind every successful sustainability program is a team of hard working and committed individuals, what Green Business Bureau refers to as “green teams”. The human aspect of sustainability, that is, sustainability is driven by collective passion and teamwork, is what makes the green movement so meaningful. But because green teams are not automated machines, they are prone to the troubles of being human. This includes low morale and burnout that can come from pursuing ambitious, tedious long-term projects, especially those involving potentially new topics like sustainability. This article will discuss strategies for boosting employee morale and avoiding burnout in order to cultivate a thriving green culture and keep your sustainability agenda on track.
ALLEVIATE WORKLOAD STRESS
Whether you have an entire green team or a single individual serving as your sustainability leader, it’s critical not to overload them with tasks and projects. Especially for companies new to the field of sustainability, pursuing a sustainability program and maintaining green teams can be a challenge.
Workflow management software is great for dividing whole projects into a series of tasks and assigning these tasks among team members. Trello, for example, allows users to create a “board” for each project which is broken down into “lists” that contain “cards”. Lists may refer to the project phases while cards designate a specific task and can be dragged and dropped into its proper place on the board. Cards can also be assigned descriptive labels and due date reminders.
Workflow management software makes completing projects a more organized, digestible process which can alleviate stress your green teams may have. Besides enhancing project organization and reducing stress levels, using a workflow management tool increases connectivity, allowing team members to collaborate and exchange data easily.
Another way to simplify your sustainability projects is by completing an initiative-based sustainability program. Green Business Bureau’s green business certification program allows you to easily measure your current performance, identify areas of improvement and conquer your goals at your own pace. Utilizing Green Business Bureau’s EcoPlanner tool allows your green teams to better strategize and plan out the short and long term goals of your sustainability agenda.
SCHEDULE ROUTINE CHECKPOINTS
Check in on your green teams routinely to monitor goal progress and to invite employees to share their questions, concerns and ideas. Much like going to the doctor for an annual exam, routine checkpoints keep your sustainability program thriving and can identify potential setbacks before they occur.
Checkpoint meetings can take various forms – standard meetings, quick huddles, by email – and can occur at any frequency – weekly, biweekly, quarterly, etc. In order to decide the method and allotted time for your checkpoint meeting, you first need to decide what the purpose of the meeting is. Do you want to review all project goals at once, or tackle one per meeting? Will you allot time for open discussion and if so, how?
You also need to figure out everyone’s availability. Google Calendar makes it easy to check others’ availability and schedule recurring meetings with auto-reminders. Google Calendar generates a Google Hangout link for remote meetings, allowing you to stay in touch with your green teams anywhere.
HAVE AN OPEN DOOR POLICY
Employees tend to care more about their jobs when they’re treated with compassion and respect. Implement an open door policy to encourage employees to come forth with questions or problems at any time. Not only will this strengthen your relationship with your staff and make them feel good about working for your company, but it will also help tackle project hurdles when they first arise and keep your sustainability program moving steadily along.
Initiating an open door policy will require you to set boundaries. Decide when you can be reliably available, communicate to staff how to reach out – knock before entering, ping you in an online chatroom, by email or phone – and utilize the time for solution building and discourage gossip.
ADD FUN TO YOUR GREEN CULTURE
A great way to create a thriving green culture is by gamifying or incentivizing your sustainability program. This can enhance engagement and create friendly competition among your employees and between departments.
Employees can compete to see who can collect the most recyclables over a set timeframe or who can make the most green lifestyle changes at home. To encourage employees to cut single-use plastics, you can hold Best Decorated reusable water bottle or tote bag competitions (Note: Be sure to encourage employees to use materials they already have rather than buying new).
You can also give each month a sustainability theme such as “Save the Bees” that ties into one or more of your green goals, or celebrate various environmental days happening worldwide – Earth Day, World Recycling Day, World Nature Conservation Day, Zero Emissions Day, among so many others.
Employees are more likely to engage in their work and be more productive when they feel appreciated. In fact, organizations with recognition programs showed a 31% lower voluntary turnover compared to those without.
There are a variety of ways to recognize your employees such as posting the “Sustainability Leader of the Month” in a newsletter or making the special announcement during meeting time. Gift certificates, gift baskets, a new gadget, or a paid day off are also kind gestures of appreciation.
However, you can take your appreciation one step further and give your employees an experience they’ll remember. Blueboard offers a variety of hand-curated experiential rewards from river rafting and cooking classes to massages and building a DIY backyard greenhouse. Investing in your employees’ passions and interests is a powerful way to show your appreciation.
SCHEDULE COMPANY EVENTS
Scheduling company events gives the reminder that sustainability is a collective effort and by working together, employees can feel inspired that they are a part of a greater purpose. Company events also highlight your company’s core values and support an engaged green culture by giving everyone the chance to connect with one another outside of the office.
Some meaningful sustainability-focused company events include hiring a keynote speaker on an intriguing environmental topic, showing a wildlife documentary or participating in a community outreach event. These are great ways to break up the monotony of work life and keep your employees interested and engaged in your sustainability pursuits.
CONCLUSION: A THRIVING GREEN CULTURE REQUIRES ATTENTIVE MANAGEMENT, RECOGNITION AND FUN
Driving a successful sustainability program means investing in the satisfaction and wellbeing of your staff, and playing an active leadership role. Creating a thriving green culture not only supports your employees but it yields several benefits for your business too:
- Higher productivity
- Increased profit
- Lower employee turnover
- Strong employee engagement and solution building
- Greater creativity and new opportunities
- Goal attainment and effective project management