Environmental Commitment & Employees
When I sold my car, I made a vow to take public transportation until I graduate college. At the time, I thought I was a big time eco-warrior, and that people should be in awe of the sacrifice I was making to reduce by carbon emissions. To explain, my commute to school is 110 miles round trip, thus by taking public transportation I reduce my carbon emissions by approximately 100 pounds per trip! On an annual basis, the reduction in emissions is actually quite impressive. Yet, after 6 long months of public transit the heroic appeal of public transit has worn off and I am left with the reality of my situation—riding the bus is awful.
The bus is crowded, always late, and, because nobody seems to cover their mouth when they sneeze, a perfect breeding ground for germs. Moreover, there is always at least one individual on the bus who insist on talking on their cell phone loud enough for everyone else to hear. Riding the bus is a huge sacrifice for me. After this year is up I will not ride the bus anymore- no matter how much carbon emissions, or money, I save by doing so.
As part of a consulting project this semester, my team had to advise our clients on how to get their employees on board with their environmental goals. In doing so, I was often reminded of my own environmental goal I set out, and what was driving me to uphold this commitment. Cleary, my experience shows that no matter if there is financial incentive, no matter if you are doing good by the environment, some people will not stay committed to environmental goals.
In crafting my recommendations for my client I felt incredibly hypocritical advising them to make it “fun” and “rewarding” for their employees, when the truth is, environmental commitments are not always fun- nor are they always rewarding. But, does this mean that companies should not try to position them as such? I think there is truth behind my recommendations for my client- make it fun, and make it rewarding for employees. However, I do not think this approach will work with every employee. So the question remains: How do you get the other employees on board? I, unfortunately, do not have this answer figured out quite yet.