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Monday, July 22, 2024

The Five Rs

Sustainable Employee Engagement by Derrick MainsWe all know the traditional “R’s” that come to mind when addressing sustainability: reduce, reuse and recycle.  We grew up with these mantras, and they are usually the first guidelines deployed when beginning green teams or sustainability initiatives within our offices.   If employees are involved and exercising these practices, the “R’s” can be extremely effective means to greening a company; environmental footprints, and bills, will begin to shrink.

But unfortunately for many of us business leaders, 71 percent of employees are not engaged, according to the authors of Human Sigma.

So how can leaders incorporate sustainability into the daily practice of their organizations?  How do they involve the entire workforce?  By employing a few more “R’s”— the five “R’s” of sustainable employee engagement:

1 Rethink:  Think about sustainability in a different way.  It need not be the larger issues like climate change.  Small steps can add to large impacts.  Encourage and remind employees to turn off lights when leaving their office.  Even if it is for a short period of time (to run to the restroom or a weekly meeting), the mere act will, over time, become a routine.  When the entire workforce begins to change their routines, it becomes a shift toward a more sustainable culture.

2 Reconnect:  Have your employees reconnect with the environment, and with their garbage.  A company dumpster dive can be a team-building exercise, allowing them to see firsthand what and how much they are wasting.  Waste is a waste.  This will help them think twice about using that disposable coffee cup or throwing away paper that could and should have been recycled.

3 Research:  This relates to internal and external factors affecting the sustainability of your company.  Internally, setting benchmarks and goals can help your employees see how their efforts can and have helped the team reach its goals.  In addition, offering your team specific tips and statistics on what actions they should take and why can be helpful in influencing them to change their behavior.   

4 Reach out:  Make sure all employees are involved in sharing ideas and ways to improve efficiency.  Game-changing ideas come from those who do the work.

5 Reward:  Recognize employees for their efforts.  Reward programs entice employees and create a cycle of sustainability.

Engagement is the first step to sustainability and culture change within your organization, and culture change can be a powerful thing.  It is not something that stays within the confines of your office walls.  Sustainable behaviors follow employees home with them at the end of the day.

Derrick Mains is the CEO of Green Nurture, the software solution for helping companies incorporate the value of sustainability into daily practice.  Mains is also the host of “Your Triple Bottom Line,” a national green talk radio show that is focused on the business of sustainability.  Send your questions to greenpanel@greenlivingaz.com and you might see a response in our next issue!

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