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Inspire Your Staff By Helping Them Go Green

Courtesy of David Suzuki, Save Money And Better The Planet Too

Inspire Your Staff By Helping Them Go Green

By Mark Swartz
Canadian Workplace Specialist

Earth Day Canada has become a major event each year in April. Since 1990, it has been raising awareness of environmental issues, such as pollution, renewable energy, waste reduction and recycling.

Perhaps your organization celebrated this year with some eco-friendly practices. Did you, for instance, subsidize people to use public transit on the way to and from work? Ask employees to make fewer paper copies of documents?

While Earth Day is a great idea, you don’t have to wait for once a year to involve your staff in green initiatives. Doing so ongoingly can tap into their desire to help the environment in small but tangible ways. This saves you money by lowering your energy and waste processing costs. It also generates goodwill between you and your employees.

Getting The Greening Going

You can start things up by asking employees to form a voluntary Green Team. Members would undertake projects that would set the foundation for a series of employer-wide, enviro-positive programs. Your Green Team will become the driving force in planning, promoting and running eco-related programs.

Here are some of the key elements to include as first priorities for the Green Team:

Conduct An Informal Green Audit
Have people on the Green Team identify areas of more obvious waste or inefficiencies throughout your organization. For instance, do you power down all computers at night? Are you using two-sided copying? Try to get a sense of where things stand at present so that you can use this as a benchmark.

Produce a Sustainability Vision
Based on the results of the Green audit, which areas of waste or inefficiency should be addressed first? You’ll want to sort items in terms of such categories as Conserve Water, Energy Use, Healthy Workplace, Transportation and Waste.

Appoint Members To Lead Specific Initiatives
You may have someone one your Green Team who specializes in internal communications. Maybe there’s someone who likes to lead seminars. Another member might be passionate about saving energy but not so into conserving water. Find out who likes to do what and appoint people to oversee particular areas within the Team.

Work With Senior Management To Create Internal Awareness
At some point you will need to communicate the Green Team’s existence and purpose. Try to get senior management to send out messages that they are supportive of the Green Team and the programs it is in the process of developing.

Get Input From Employees
Have a few Green Team members put together an uncomplicated survey for staff to complete. The survey should ask people what their preferred involvement would be (entirely voluntary) in terms of Greening the workplace. These comments and suggestions will help the Green Team when it comes time to produce a Green Activity Plan for the organization. Activities should be fun for all and easy to implement.

Calling Dr. Suzuki

At this point you could probably use some professional help. It’s time for concrete ideas and step by step instructions. Fortunately such assistance is accessible 24/7 for free. A complete action plan and free e-learning kit is available from the master of environmental mindfulness himself, Canada’s own Dr. David Suzuki.

The David Suzuki Foundation At Work toolkit is intended to “...help you find new ways to become a green leader in your workplace, improve your brand and save money at the same time. You'll learn from other businesses and organizations that have already benefited — both financially and environmentally — from going green at work.”

This toolkit is the missing link your Green Team needs to move from the early stages to action. You’ll find ready-made activities such as games and contests to involve staff. Included are goal setting exercises, planners and posters. There are even tips on dealing with doubters and soliciting their input.

Green Light To Proceed

With your Green Team in place, and the David Suzuki Foundation At Work toolkit, you’re set to move forward. There is much to do: organize your eco-launch, distribute information to staff, track your progress, institute a rewards program to encourage participation, etc.

Along the way you should be measuring your success at achieving the goals set out in your Green Plan. Keep your employees in the loop about small triumphs. Highlight individual and team accomplishments with regard to Green challenges.

The road to Greener pastures is yours to pave. It will give your staff something upbeat to talk about and get engaged in. Meanwhile you’ll be reducing waste and energy costs. Make every day an Earth Day at work and reap the benefits soon.