So, you want to run your business in a way that advocates sustainability. You have cut your energy consumption and switched to green products and processes. What else can you do? The answer is simple and straightforward. Get your employees on your side.
This article analyzes two HR practices suggested by Lisa Swallow, author of “Green Business Practices for Dummies.”
Your employees are the key to building your business reputation for green advocacy. When you alter human resources practices to improve employee relations, you often get a deeper commitment from personnel. Happy workers become your biggest green advocates. While changing HR practices might cost you, focus on what you have to gain, not on what you might lose!
Among many green practices for businesses, Swallow describes how to get the support of stakeholders in your sustainable business model. Two of Swallow’s suggestions stand out for small businesses in relation to employees. First, Swallow recommends giving employees a living wage (instead of just a minimum wage). Second, she writes, “As you strive to implement sustainable business practices, consider adding a variable pay element to your compensation system by linking pay to ecoperformance.”
Now Swallow has really touched on something here. Give employees a financial incentive to become green advocates. Your pay scale should exceed the federal and state minimum wage if your budget allows for it. The more you can pay employees in any economy, the more dignity they have about the work they perform. For some workers, earning the minimum wage is a sore point that does not inspire them to advocate for their employer.
The concept of ecoperformance is really an extension of common HR practice to environmentally friendly business. Whenever employers offer pay for performance, they will motivate some employees who are not motivated by other incentives. Revisit your pay plan and give raises to employees who help customers understand the importance of green living and highlight the green practices of your business. So you don’t run into wage and hour legal problems, take the time to write a formal plan.
Another program you can implement without paperwork is to provide other rewards for employees who follow green practices you have established as standard operating procedure. For example, who consistently recycles office paper, turns off lights and appliances when not in a room, and convinces customers they should recycle their packaging? You can offer a surprise paid afternoon off, the first dibs on vacation requests, using the office computer for educational courses, and other small gestures.
Employees are your ambassadors for everything good and bad about your company. They should work in an environment where advocating for sustainability is as natural as promoting your business over the competition. In the long run, you also get intangible free marketing when employees promote your green business on their own time. Green advocacy through happy, green ambassadors on your payroll makes great business sense!
About the AuthorAbout the Author:
JD Carr has over a decade of experience as a web developer and entrepreneur. He is responsible for development and the day-to-day operations at urThots.com and musespring.com.