Companies and forward thinking employees alike have been addressing the idea of greening business operations, yet often they are not confident in how to get this idea started. In this article, I would like to share my observations on how to get the green process off the ground with long lasting effects and overall willingness.
In my experience, there are two main ingredients: unanimous agreement and buy-in from both staff and management. Quite simply speaking, whoever instigates the green movement needs to be aware that management or concerned employees must be on the same page to ensure that the project is successful. That sounds like a big task, and in some organisations it is, but with the right strategy greening an office or organisation is achievable. In fact, it can be an enriching experience to be proud of.
It is quite understandable why management needs to be behind the greening process. Not only does administration need to make time available for staff to comfortably achieve their green goals, but also to make funds available to invest in efficient and sustainable retrofits. Ideally, staff would be allocated time to green a company during regular working hours. Quality and continuous progress needs time and dedication.
But why is it important to get staff buy-in? Would it not be simpler to just order staff to do what they are told? Our experience has shown that staff needs to be guided into the process and be motivated to adhere to new rules and regulations. In my previous article “Switched On” I have mentioned the importance of staff motivation know-how and awareness. Employees need to be induced with a healthy dose of these three aspects through behaviour change and environmental awareness courses before implementing any green regulations, retrofits or measures. Preparing people for upcoming changes, goes half way to accepting these adjustments. Without this staff commitment, greening a building is going to be slow and probably unsustainable in the long run.
The entity that will have to be formed in between management and staff is the “Green Team”: A number of employees (one person seldom can do it all) who are keen to be the green champions to the organisation. Some employees might volunteer others might need to be motivated. Ideally, the green team would consist of a representative cross section of the organisation. These staff members should come from either each area of the office building or from each department of operation. Having staff on board with a particular field of expertise such as the building or procurement manager, will benefit the process. Once the green team is formed, they can get rolling: brainstorm ideas, gather information and most importantly equip themselves with the best possible knowledge on resource efficiency and carbon management by attending relevant training programs. Developing an environmental strategy together as a team is important and will ensure that everyone flies in formation. Once the team had their own training, the green champions will know what can be expected of all other employees. They will know exactly how to reinforce what was learnt, and how to motivate staff to adhere to new resource efficient behavioural rules. In other words the green champions will take employees under their wing through ongoing motivation and behaviour monitoring, allowing feedback and suggestions. Similarly, the green champions need to take management under their wings. Reporting back to administration, disclosing successes and challenges, presenting facts and figures of monitored processes, motivating the release of funds for green investments is all part of the green team’s task.
There is a fine line between being seen as the formidable green police or respected green champions. But when the green champions get it right, they achieve goals whose benefits go way beyond the boundaries of the organisation. The elation and pride can be felt by everyone in that organisation, from the executives to the management to any member of staff. They are all champions!