Welcome back to our two-part series with tips on how to move your facility further along the sustainability path. We’ve talked to some of our customers to see what they’re doing to create a more sustainable workplace and have chosen the best ones to share.
We’ve broken these down into two groups: Interesting Ideas to Implement and Employee Buy-In Tips. Today we’re going to share tips to help your employees buy into the process.
Employee Buy-In Tips
Anyone can start a sustainability program, but we all know that unless you have the support of the people on the floor, no program will work. In today’s world, people have too many on-the-job responsibilities as it is – and now you want to add another? So how can you convince your employees to work with you on your new program? Here are some ideas to implement at your facility. Just like last week, these are coming right from the people out on the frontlines, doing this every day – we’re just pulling them all together.
1. “Some of the money from the recycling effort gets given back to the employees in the form of a banquet each year so it makes them want to recycle. So I look at it like this, we have material that can be recycled, they do it, we collect it, they get rewarded and to me it’s sustainable!”
This is great! There are countless ways to incentivize your team for their excellence and promote camaraderie, but holding an event as special as a banquet – that really sends the message that the work your team is doing is necessary and important.
2. “It starts from the top down that sustainability is a value, and if it is a concerted effort from the top it will develop and grow in a company. The next thing to happen is to put someone in charge. A company needs to give someone authority over the process or a strong reporting mechanism that can hold people accountable.”
Top-down/bottom-up. We’ve seen examples of both with respect to how companies began their initial charge into sustainability. But most will agree that any program has to have dedicated support and drive from the top down in order for it to remain sustainable itself. Successful recycling programs require promotion and engaging, educating, and training people, none of which will happen without the commitment from company leadership. Appointing the leadership along with establishing and documenting the process are key.
3. “We have a standard bin, standard color and standard lid for all different types of recyclables. Our employees sort their recyclables right on the line and they are then they are brought back to janitorial where they are then placed in the correctly labeled containers or baled.”
A place for everything and everything in its place. Designating specific containers and color-coding is one of the easiest yet most effective steps toward a successful recycling effort. Beginning the waste segregation process on the front end of the process is a key factor too. Think of time and resources as sustainable factors as well.
Remember to include labels for each container and train employees on the details of ‘what goes in where.’ When stuff ends up getting mixed, it might render it non-recyclable. From the field, a waste manager said, “I get stung twice when waste gets mixed. First, I lose money from any value in that waste, and secondly, I have to pay to get rid of it!” That’s a pretty strong argument for implementing a color-coding process as a BMP in your facility.
4. “Our plant is divided into 12 different sections – each section’s manager is responsible for their portion of our plant’s waste generated. Every single waste container in the plant is tied to a specific X-Y coordinate and is for a particular waste. We are able to tell on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis how much waste (ex. how many pounds of cardboard) is being generated at a specific location. We then normalize this data and provide it to the section managers. Then, once a month we have a meeting with all of the officers, and managers and shops have to report out if they’re over their waste target and have activities in place to reduce waste. This helps to make shops accountable. Also, their annual bonus is tied to achieving their waste target (which also helps get them on board). We also have weekly Safety and Environmental tours where the officers go to a section and that manager has to take them to different locations within their shop to show improvement activities.”
Here’s to a job really well done! All the components of a successful program are here. Identify the waste and the areas, assign ownership and accountability, create a process, align the process with goals, track progress, adjust and incentivize the work. But lastly, the environmental tour by officers is the step that really seals the deal, ensuring an avenue for regular improvements. Tying up the back end is critical. We all know that work environments and requirements are constantly evolving as they strive to meet ever-changing needs.
5. “At the associate level, we have a formal incentive program for suggestions. Also, each section has its own less-formal incentive program. Usually a blank list on their board where associates can walk up and write their ideas. Associates can get candy bars, recognition from managers, pizza parties, etc. for participating. Also, our organizations roll the economic benefits of our program back to the associates. Because of the success of our recycling program, we have been able to fund an onsite recreation center, daycare center and wellness center.
Wow! From candy bars and pizza parties to a recreation center, daycare and wellness center! The program all starts off with a simple suggestion process where employees go to a white board and write down an idea. Make it easy, make it convenient and mostly, just keep it simple. What about sustainable living for your employees? Ever think about contributing recycling monetary gains to benefits to ensure their health, safety and well-being? Sustainable!
6. “We started our recycling program in the machine shop sox years ago, and we are making very good money by separating our materials in color-coded barrels. Our HSE committee gets some of this money that we receive for recycling and we buy the company shirts and coffee mugs and other incentive items that make everyone want to participate in making our company green.”
It just shows: You don’t have to give elaborate or expensive gifts to get people’s help and willingness to cooperate. Even the small things you extend to show gratitude will go a very long way toward building BIG camaraderie!
7. “All funds generated throughout the year [on recycling efforts] are spent on an August picnic.”
Cool, and fun for the whole family! A group outing like a picnic is a great way to incentivize your teams with earned recycling funds. Day in, day out – these folks will make it or break it. Individual rewards are great too but doing something like a picnic event that includes family and friends is a great way to promote loyalty and say thank you.
We hope these tips, along with last week’s ideas, will give you a step up in your sustainability efforts.
You tell us: Have these tips given you ideas on how to get your employees to support you in your efforts to become more sustainable? Let us know in the comments section below!