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Employee Driven Sustainability

A requirement for creating sustainability culture

Imagine a situation where sustainability is second nature of all employees in your company.

There is deep sustainability culture in your company and it shows in every aspect of your company operations.

Your products are eco friendly and demand premium prices, your entire supply chain is carbon neutral and cost efficient, your data centers are fully utilized and energy efficient, your marketing is naturally green, and your brand is rated as most environment friendly. Not only this your employees are highly motivated which leads to higher retention and the best talent available wants to work for your company.

This situation can be a reality and can be achieved through employee driven environmental sustainability efforts. But it might not be achievable today, due to the behavioral and cultural issues surrounding environmental sustainability. Over a long time, employees have developed certain energy usage behaviors that are difficult to change. Energy conservation and carbon emission reductions are not part of company culture, and it is difficult to change that as well.

These behavioral and cultural changes are required to make a company truly environment friendly. During a webinar on employee engagement, one of the participants summarized this problem succinctly as “The low hanging fruit has already been taken care of, now it is the tougher behavioral and cultural changes that make us more sustainable“.

No doubts change is required, and it is not going to happen overnight and it is not going to happen with business as usual approach. Changing behaviors and culture require a long term engagement in a community setting with enough motivational and social nudges. But most of the employee engagement programs offered today are short term programs targeting individuals. Change cannot happen at work alone, and it needs to happen in every major setting that the employee is involved in and this includes employees’ home. So engaging employees in communities over a longer period of time focusing on both professional and personal setting is required. This requirement for change scares the living daylights of many sustainability executives.

But there is hope. In a recent survey conducted by us, majority of the participants expressed that they are “Engaged” or “Highly Engaged” in their work communities.

Employee Engagement in Work Communities

This data points to the fact that work communities already exist. These are communities of peers who go to lunch together, communities of colleagues who work together on some of the most challenging issues and communities of co-workers who spend majority of their weekdays together. There are small fragmented communities dispersed throughout the organization, but it might be difficult for the sustainability executives to connect with these communities.

During the same survey we asked the participants on how likely they are to participate in work communities for saving energy at home. 72% of the participants answered that they are “Likely” or “Highly Likely” to engage in work communities for saving energy at home.

Work Community for Saving Energy at Home

These two pieces of data together are really powerful and they point to the fact that sustainability executives have the right opportunity to instigate change. They can do this by providing the small fragmented communities, that exist within the company, an online platform that would help them save energy at home. This online platform should allow employees to participate at their own convenience and should tie in their individual contributions into a community effort. All the small communities on this platform should be tied into a bigger community that is linked to the company’s brand and its sustainability goals. This platform should be built for long term engagement and platform managers should conduct periodic competitions to motivate employees to contribute to the success of their community. Social status and recognition should be used as awards to encourage participation in the competitions.

A platform like this will ensure that the employees are getting immediate benefit from participation (i.e. lower utility bills + recognition), are engaged over a longer term in communities they trust and are changing their energy usage behaviors. As more employees benefit from these communities, more and more employees would like to join and participate. This increases the level of engagement, induces behavioral changes and develops sustainability culture within the company.

SpeakEnergy has developed a solution that does exactly this and focuses on changing employee behavior by engaging them in energy saving communities. For further information please email me at [email protected]

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More Stories By Jagan Nemani

“Business Executive who is passionate about discovering innovative concepts and converting them to revenue earning businesses. Happily married to a beautiful woman, and has two lovely kids. Avid skier, photographer and story-teller” I have spent about 5+ years in management consulting industry focused on “Growth Strategy” challenges. During those years, I have helped many clients devise some innovative strategies. Through the execution of those strategies, I have learned that Innovation is more of an Art than Science. And there is a lot more effort that goes into developing a successful business than just an innovative idea (ideas really a dime a dozen). So I have decided to share my learning through this blog. Hopefully you would enjoy this blog as much as I enjoy writing it.

My current employment situation: I am happily employed as Head, Innovation & Strategy at a software company, focused on establishing an innovation culture/process within the company. Needless to say, my focus is on “Concept 2 Revenue” at my current job as well.