In our multi-tasking world, it’s easy to take the path of least resistance when it comes to things that are not top of mind. Even though we all know that energy is a precious, finite resource, conservation efforts tend to fall by the wayside amidst the hustle and bustle of workplace deadlines and demands. Here are four ways to make employees take notice, and re-energize your corporate greening efforts:
1) Cash: Utility companies know that money motivates – that’s why they provide rebates or discounts to customers who install energy-saving technologies. A similar program can succeed in the workplace. One popular format is to solicit energy-saving suggestions, with the reward being a pre-designated percentage of the cost savings generated by the idea. Having the reward paid for by the savings makes it easier to justify the incentive to budgeteers.
2) Awards: The need for recognition is a powerful behavioral motivator. Visible, lasting incentives like a plaque or trophy, particularly when presented in a public forum, can generate a lingering sense of pride in the recipient. Companies can exponentially increase the motivation to participate in this kind of incentive program if they harness the competitive aspect of human nature – for example, pitting multiple corporate campuses (or schools in a district) against each other to see who can reduce energy consumption the most in a given period of time.
3) Energy Swap: Sometimes the best way to save energy is to spend a little more of it. With a swap program, participants “trade off” increased energy savings in one area for a reward in another. One way to do this would be to offer to alter the thermostat by one degree if employees can save a greater amount of energy in another area, such as production, lighting or computer use. Obviously this tactic requires some calculations and administrative oversight, but it just might motivate a workforce who is unhappy with a 76-degree workspace in the summer.
4) Consequence Education: This strategy involves linking the consequences of saving energy to a valued cause or outcome. For example, perhaps the company has chosen wildlife preservation as a corporate cause. Posters or slogans linking excessive energy use to loss of polar bear habitat might be a far more powerful motivator to reduce utility usage than the amorphous and impersonal idea of “saving the company money”. Some organizations are taking an even more direct line to consequence education, and have begun incorporating energy use as a factor in employee performance assessments.
Creativity is key when it comes to crafting energy incentives in the workplace. With the right plans in place, however, a conscientious company can make a difference in both the world around them and their bottom line. When that happens, everybody wins.
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