Many businesses such as digital marketing companies jump on the green bandwagon by following sustainability guidelines in an effort to attract more clients, but this does not always work. For a start, adopting environmentally friendly practices – while often simple – does take at least some effort. If you are only doing it to get more customers and this doesn’t happen in a way you can quantify you’ll lose interest. Once that happens employees cannot be expected to get behind you.
It is important to have at least some enthusiasm for the concept rather than just for the results in terms of the bottom line. People don’t like to change the way they do things unless there is a good reason that they can agree is important. While employees may be mildly interested in your bottom line they are often more interested in their own, or in the way any change will affect them personally.
If that change is seen as being inconvenient or causing them more work, they will often resist it, especially if they were happy doing things ‘their way’ to start with. It takes real enthusiasm from the upper levels of management for change to be implemented successfully. If employees feel that the change benefits them personally in some way – apart from helping to save the earth’s resources – then they will come on board more easily.
Otherwise, they are thinking more in terms of having to change what they liked doing simply to ‘please the boss’. People generally – and this includes your employees – want to know what is in it for them. If they can see an immediate and visible benefit, they are most likely to come on board. If they cannot, the changes needed may be difficult to implement.
One company made changes easy and fun for their employees, who were happy to take home boxes of rubbish to add to their own recycling efforts and participate in things such as fun runs for charity and not smoking as a way of pursuing wellness. The benefits of the latter came in the form of lower health insurance premiums, something that all the employees were interested in.
Following sustainability guidelines just to increase your bottom line means you don’t really care about the reason for implementing the procedures, only the results that affect you. This means you won’t be as enthusiastic as you would otherwise be and people will know you to be a fake, so they won’t even care about trying to help you.
The result will be resistance and a divided workforce with lots of grumbling and complaining. You may even lose employees over time because of it, thus causing you more in terms of advertising for replacements and training them. So before implementing any green procedures think more about why you are doing it than how it can benefit your company.