It is only natural for people to want to save the planet. And since work fills a large part of one’s life, one’s office cannot possibly be immune to the concern. Sustainability in the workplace is achievable, but one needs the right method and techniques to approach the matter. Besides, a shared ‘why’ behind the goal makes accomplishing it much easier.
You need to know the core principles of a person’s motivation in relation to sustainability practices. This lets you engage your employees in sustainability measures at your company. In this article, we’ll explore what those principles are. And thus, we’ll also formulate guidelines to catalyse the necessary shift in their day-to-day behaviour. Let’s get to saving your company (and the planet).
Set a long-term vision
People and companies can both be very selfish when they’re short-sighted. And as a matter of rule, short-term thinking conflicts strongly with long-term growth or sustainability. The way to combat this is simple but not easy. You need to lay out the company’s aspirations in the long run for all to see, including your employees. This makes them real and inspires everyone.
However, the above may not be enough. You then need to embed that vision into your employees’ conduct day in and day out. For example, if your company sells cleaning supplies, you may emphasize sanitation and home decor. But a cleaner office and an impeccable workplace will also boost productivity and cut healthcare costs for your workers, ultimately improving the bottom line.
Align the vision with the employee’s
As we saw in the example above, what happens at the workplace has an impact beyond the office. Your employees also want many of the same things that you do. This is not just because they work at your company. They are also humans like you. And humans mostly share the same needs. You can tap into this common pool of motivations.
After your company benefits from the better health and mood of your employees, you may fork new opportunities. Perhaps, you can expand your product line to include new offerings. On top of cleaning supplies, you may be able to do paint, decoration, or furnishing items. And you can then just create a virtuous cycle upward, boosting productivity and improving sustainability further.
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Include some social entrepreneurship
Business need not be about doing well only. It can be about doing good. Track your sustainability initiatives numerically, and calculate the net economic impact they create. Maybe your sustainability program generated savings worth 2 million euros in the last quarter. Note and highlight the number, and discuss ways to improve it with your employees. And you’ll be well on your way.
It’s true that every euro saved is a euro earned. However, the benefits need not be limited to savings. As we’ve noted in the previous point, you may also be able to create new revenue opportunities. For instance, foregoing a bunch of mostly idle computers can more than cut costs. You may save space and need fewer assets to manage less equipment.
Make sustainability individual
Sustainability ultimately requires stewardship at the individual level. Therefore, empower your employees individually to lead the change. You may even add a healthy dose of competition for the same. Reward employees and let them derive motivation from this. Also, get the top management personally involved in your efforts. This helps your efforts carve a larger shadow inside and outside the company.
Make sustainability social
Apart from making it about the individual, you also need to make sustainability visible. While the previous point was about making sustainability visible inside the company, this is about social proof. Track relevant metrics and post them to the stakeholders periodically. Launch sustainability programs as part of the company’s mission. And then actually celebrate their successes for the world to see.
Create Knowledge from Information
Finally, you need to turn all this information about sustainability into knowledge for your employees. There is a difference between knowledge and information. Information may just sit there, while knowledge has the power to cause things. Track your savings and various expenditures – turn them into actionable insights for your employees. Be it energy costs saved or supply chain losses, track them all.
Accounting for your business operations using hard figures and numbers is guaranteed to work for you. Such analytics, if done right, can show the loopholes in your operations. As a result, you’ll be able to boost margins. Also, you may discover the need for new business practices that need to be incorporated to enhance your sustainability efforts. And then simply implement them.
Conclusion for sustainability practices
Sustainability is about purpose and passion for the doer. And as we saw, it’s also about productivity and profits for the company. One only needs to tap into core human motivations and link them with the corporate purpose and society’s need of the hour. And the best part is that what makes the business sustainable also helps save the planet and vice-versa.
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