Achieving Buy-In on Green Matters
Whilst we've demonstrated that being a sustainable, ‘green’ business is the way forward in terms of reducing cost and becoming more profitable, the difference between saying and doing can be a big step. The bigger you become, the harder buy-in is to achieve. It also requires ongoing effort to ensure buy-in is retained as, inevitably, people look towards the comfort of going back to their old ways.
Whilst it can be trying, achieving organisation-wide buy-in is certainly worthwhile. Your green goals will become more effective, bringing greater efficiency, reduced costs, improved reputation and compliance with environmental legislation. With everyone pulling in the same direction, there can also be improved staff morale and retention.
After you have reviewed your organisation's environmental performance, there should be a clear goal or statement explaining what you want to achieve. This can then be broken down into the actions required to achieve the goal. This could be from cutting paper use in half, to reducing water consumption by 20% over the next 12 months. Be sure to check out our article on How Going Green Makes Business Sense for other ideas.
Once you have agreed your goal and actions, it's time to share them with the rest of the workforce. It's important to remember that people will respond to different approaches, which may require different techniques to communicate to them. After all, why should they care? Whereas the management team may be interested in the monetary benefits of being greener, lower level office staff may like the idea of ownership by being involved in the actions you are going to take. Your cleaners on the other hand, may be interested to hear how going green will make their jobs easier.
The effectiveness of buy-in can also be improved by tailoring the presentation of what you say. Your bosses may benefit from a short and snappy PowerPoint, whilst a more informal ‘workshop’ could work better for staff. Awareness can be reinforced and demonstrated to clients, suppliers and other stakeholders through your website, company newsletter and even posters within your office. Helpful tips included on these posters and stickers can be that little reminder to avoid people settling back into their old ways.
To keep the momentum going, it's important to include your staff in decisions. The more people feel involved, the greater the success of the project. A simple suggestion box or notice board is a great way of generating fresh ideas. Highlighting and rewarding good ideas can stimulate further ones, and is a great way of improving employee loyalty. The sceptics who would now be feeling left out, may also start to want to become more involved.
By measuring the success of the various awareness campaigns, soon you will start to learn what works best in terms of impact, time and investment required. Don't forget to share progress; everyone affected should be regularly informed.
Whilst it will take time, by reinforcing the message over and over, the rewards will easily exceed the efforts put in. Research by WRAP, a Government funded body to raise awareness of recycling and waste, shows £400-1000 can be saved per employee, per year simply by reducing waste. How much else could your organisation save after a full review on consumption of resources and energy?
This article was written by The British Assessment Bureau, a certification body specialising in the ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standard.