Small businesses may not have the funds to go green or even implement a comprehensive corporate sustainability plan but that doesn’t mean that resources and measures aren’t available to help the business and employees embrace business sustainability.
As it is, today’s companies face greater pressure than ever before from shareholders, customers, and employees to become more sustainable. But how do you engage workers within your business to personally integrate sustainability into their everyday actions and decisions – especially if funds and resources are limited?
It makes sense to start with areas that are easiest to implement and create lasting behavior change in the workplace, at home and in the community. Areas to consider include energy efficiency, alternative transportation and recycling programs.
For example, energy efficiency can be a gateway to wider business innovation and engage stakeholders in broader process evaluations. The post, Cut Cost and Engage Employees through Energy Efficiency Explores ways to do just that. Other ways to extend sustainability concepts beyond the workplace and into employees living more sustainable lifestyle include:
Education: Offer ongoing workshops, training, lunch and learns, and educational activities to educate workers on the environmental issues (energy, water, waste, and others) and the associated actions causing the problems. Identify new behavior and eco actions that individually workers can take to create new patterns of behavior and choices that support environmental solutions and are aligned with the company’s vision for a sustainability plan. We’ve learned in our eco friendly training classes, the first part is educating; the harder part is changing the behavior. Ongoing education helps create lasting change.
Create individual employee sustainability programs: The basic premise of a personal sustainability program is to reduce your carbon footprint, lighten the load on the planet as well as reap the benefits of living a more sustainable lifestyle. Eco actions taken in a personal sustainability plan can be anything from riding a bike to work or eating organic healthy meals or recycling. It can also be about achieving a personal goal, sustaining it, and building from that platform. Tying a program to incentive structures is one way of demonstrating its importance in the organization. Another option is to extend individual sustainability plans to groups or departments within the business and align goals/ metrics with the overarching sustainability plan of the company.
Integrating sustainability concepts into core business functions makes companies more nimble in a fast-changing world. It also makes a business’s brands more attractive to consumers and retailers, and its management more respected by employees, regulators and the financial markets. In short, the drivers for improved business sustainability equate to cost savings and improved performance. It doesn’t have to be resource intensive – take it step by step and make each step count.