But as many business owners know: Old habits die hard. Engaging employees to effect behaviour change for energy efficiency is no mean feat.
So what can employers do to really grab their employees’ attention and encourage them to show a genuine interest in sustainability?
Here are three scientifically backed motivators for engaging employees to help keep your business energy bill to a minimum.
When investing in reducing energy bills, it’s not uncommon for businesses to offer employees financial incentives to adopt energy-saving behaviour within the workplace. But research suggests that while incentivising staff to achieve certain things may encourage them to strive for success initially, their motivation won’t necessarily be long-lasting.
There are a variety of reasons why employees may lose interest in working hard to achieve a goal, even if they’re offered money or prizes. As Dan Pink, author of “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” explains: rewards just incentivise people to get rewards. They don’t actually encourage them to reach a target or make them want to achieve a goal. If employees work hard to succeed only to be overtaken by someone else who then achieves the reward, the energy-saving behaviour won’t stick.
Furthermore, if rewards are only given to those who achieve the best results, those who have little confidence in their abilities, or those that believe they have no chance of winning, are unlikely to show an interest and may not even try to meet the targets set.
Feelings and emotions are a powerful motivator. By making it clear that your employees’ actions can directly affect the success of your sustainability mission, you can motivate them to adopt energy-saving behaviour.
After analysing thousands of employee work diaries, researchers and authors of The Progress Principle found that contrary to popular belief, the most positive workplace motivator wasn’t money, instead it was the feeling of making progress everyday towards a meaningful goal.
So how can employers tap into this motivator and use it to drive success?
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Waiting for just one big win isn’t necessarily the key to success. Rather than setting one large goal, set small manageable targets and keep employees updated so that they know how their efforts are making a difference. This will enable you to address progress at regular intervals and celebrate success more often than you would if you just had one big objective.
Professor Terry Orlick, from the University of Ottawa, explains: “Life satisfaction is 22% more likely for those with a steady stream of minor accomplishments than those who express interest only in major accomplishments.”
By regularly evaluating your progress, and setting specific short term goals, you can work as a group to discuss how improvements can be made and sustainability can be strengthened. Goals could include a reduction of bills by a particular percentage or the successful integration of some energy-saving equipment.
In “The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People”, David Niven writes: “Researchers find that persistent people spend twice as much time thinking, not about what has to be done, but about what they have already accomplished, the fact that the task is doable, and that they are capable of it.” Reinforcing this amongst your employees will have a positive effect on their outlook towards energy saving.
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