By Shannon Bunsen, Sustainability Project Manager for Mazzetti+GBA
In 2013 the European Environment Agency reported that up to 20 percent of energy savings can be achieved by targeting behavior change. Individuals make daily decisions that affect energy consumption; when you engage individuals, you empower them to be part of the solution.
And engagement matters. Gallup research from 2012 found that organizations that scored in the top half on employee engagement scored nearly double in customer ratings, profitability, and productivity compared with those in the bottom half. Top-scoring organizations saw lower turnover and absenteeism, and fewer safety incidents and quality defects.
In 2017 the National Environmental Education Foundation conducted a study that found a positive relationship between sustainability engagement and employee engagement. They also found that sustainability engagement positively affects almost every dimension of traditional engagement, including alignment, pride, discretionary effort, and advocacy. Nearly 90 percent of employees that were engaged in their company’s sustainability efforts said that it enhances their job satisfaction.
When engaging employees in sustainability, it’s best to use a combination of methods. Passive approaches include designing spaces for sustainable behaviors and incorporating signage or “action triggers” to turn behavior into habits. Active strategies include educating occupants and enlisting them to participate on green teams. Written communications can raise awareness, but interpersonal communication can change behavior and add much more value for the employees involved.
Implementing a variety of strategies, and doing so thoughtfully, will lead to the wide-ranging benefits that sustainability engagement has to offer.
About the Author
In 2017, Shannon Bunsen joined Mazzetti+GBA, global provider of healthcare engineering and technology consulting, as sustainability project manager. She also leads The Sextant Foundation, a sustainable development non-profit that works in healthcare settings in the developing world. She offers more than 5 years of experience in sustainability program management. She was the University of Wisconsin Health’s first sustainability leader, a position she created. Shannon holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with continuing education certificates in process improvement and change management.
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