While most people want to protect the environment, improving a company’s environmental initiative is much harder than it sounds. For a big group like a company, you are restricted by limited resources and employee resistance. Even if you set up a good Green Initiative and have incentives and rewards in place, your plan to make your business more environmentally friendly can still fail. Here are three reasons why sustainability initiatives might fail and what you can do about them.
Lack of support from upper management is one of the most common reasons your green initiatives fail. After all, they control the financial resources and their attitudes toward sustainability projects will be modeled by employees. Keep in mind that upper management will be convinced by numbers and solid data, not by subjective opinions. Company proponents of the green initiative should use industry examples with well-resourced data. For example, research by the Harvard Business Review shows that sustainability is actually a key driver of innovation. When upper management understands how major companies can be profitably and exemplary models of environmentalism at the same time, they will listen.
Sustainability is something many people will verbally agree to support, but fail to actually implement and actively change. Often, a few employees and management are passionate about sustainability, while their coworkers simply want to focus on their primary job functions. Your staff should be regularly educated about the importance of conservation, waste reduction, and the most eco-friendly work practices. A designated member of the management team should be appointed to oversee the company’s sustainability program and practices, and an annual audit of the environmental program and procedures is recommended. Doing so will identify weaknesses, increase transparency, and result in overall improvements.
A green initiative must have structure and documentation. This includes an official environmental policy and other key written documentation, such as a recycling policy and hazardous waste policy. Most importantly, employees need to have eco-friendly practices incorporated into their job description. This is one of the best ways to hold employees accountable during their performance reviews. Moreover, certain departments such as IT, purchasing and maintenance, should have their own green standards. For example, the maintenance department could set the standard to reuse old equipment, such as buying only used industrial boilers from a trusted source like Nationwide Boiler. The IT department can also set the standard to only purchase energy efficient electronics, and properly recycle them at the end of their life cycle.
In the end, sustainability is important to employees, the company, and the community surrounding your business. A green initiative can be difficult to implement, but is possible to achieve through increasing management support, accountability, and standards.