Employees & SustainabilityAs much as sustainable energy solutions have already proven they can lead to major savings on small business energy costs, some of the biggest benefits need more than just switching providers or installing new equipment.

Chicago-based commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle released a report on Thursday, March 28, highlighting some case studies where businesses have made a concerted effort to bring their employees on board with sustainability projects.

While new energy efficiency and clean energy technologies can help cut costs, they do very little on their own to engage employees in sustainability efforts, and ultimately ignore many key aspects to operating a greener business. Encouraging workers to take part in the process can offer a sense of shared purpose and leaves people more satisfied with the places where they work.

“Numerous studies have shown that employees enjoy work more and are more productive when they see their companies acting in a socially-responsible manner,” Dan Probst, chairman of energy and sustainability services at Jones Lang LaSalle, said in a statement. “Companies can improve their bottom line by showing employees how they can participate in sustainability programs, and by seeking employee input on ways to continually enhance those programs.”

JLL’s report highlights the fact that, while most of the emphasis in industry is placed on finding financing, getting support for these kinds of initiatives is just as important and can provide a range of benefits that businesses can’t buy. It breaks the process down into a few key steps, starting first and foremost with raising awareness of these new campaigns.

Residential property firm Grainger brought a full 10 percent of its employees to spread the word of its sustainability plans and Bank of America’s My Environment program has attracted as many as 12,000 employees.

From here it becomes a matter of  turning awareness into engagement and finding ways to hold employees’ attention. A large part of this is to keep up a steady message about your sustainability efforts, but it’s also important to constantly try to increase awareness as well. As more employees learn about these programs, it makes everyone that much more likely to take part, if only as a matter of course.

It might seem like these kinds of efforts are more a marketing tool than anything, but GreenBiz notes that even Walmart has found ways to turn sustainability into a driving force for productivity.

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