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The need for a healthy planet to support economy and community development is now more evident than ever. And, businesses have a major role to play in achieving sustainability goals, especially being among the highest contributors of waste that goes to landfills. Furthermore, driving sustainability in your organization also comes with business benefits such as reduced costs, better reputation, increased bottom line and gives a competitive advantage. However, to achieve your organization’s sustainability goals, you need the buy in from your employees. Using rewards can be a great way to influence the needed behaviors as well as drive engagement and performance towards achieving your sustainability goals. How can you do this?
Having a reward system in place without informing the employees what they are needed to do to earn those rewards can do very little in achieving your sustainability goals. So, you have to set it straight and provide clarity on the program. Ensure that every employee knows the organization’s sustainability goals and the steps that each one can take towards achieving them. In addition, let them know the criteria that will be used to choose reward winners as well as what they are likely to receive as a reward. When employees know what they have to do and what is waiting for them at the other end, they are likely to remain motivated to take the necessary steps towards the set goals.
If rewards are to act as motivation for employees to take the necessary steps towards reaching your sustainability goals, then fairness is paramount. Employees are likely not to see a need to put in the effort if the reward is likely to go to a less deserving individual. For this reason, it is important to ensure that rewards are merit-based. Set rewards for employees or teams that demonstrate exemplary performance. For instance, if you have a sustainability goal to reduce energy use this quarter, set a reward for the department that will have reduced usage by the highest margin. And, for you to do that, you will need to develop performance metrics for the various sustainability goals.
It would be next to impossible to motivate employees to take actionable sustainability steps if the rewards awaiting them are something that they don’t want. You have to do your homework well to determine the types of rewards that can actually incentivize your team to take action. Conducting employee surveys can go a long way in revealing invaluable insights in this regard.
In addition, use a variety of reward options. You can have a mix of financial and non-financial rewards. Lunch at a favorite restaurant, tickets to concerts, or gifts such as swiss-made watches for employees who are good with deadlines and time-sensitive tasks can work wonders in driving the required motivation.
Employees can easily get bored of receiving the same rewards all the time. When this happens, the power of the reward incentivizing the needed actions diminishes over time. Your organization’s sustainability objectives evolve as the business grows. You should ensure that the rewards tied to these goals also evolve with them. This helps in keeping employees excited about the program and highly engaged to take up the new challenges. As said above, conducting employee surveys regularly can help know which rewards are relevant to employees at any given time.
Rewards tied to achieving the company’s objectives should be delivered in a timely manner. Delaying them more than necessary can make the reward lose meaning and appear like an afterthought. Additionally, it can be easy to forget the steps and behaviors that made them win. If you are to quickly engage your employees and keep them excited to continue working towards the organization’s sustainability objectives, deliver the rewards immediately after achieving the set metrics.
Sustainability objectives are important for achieving not only a better planet, but also significant business benefits. Moreover, your employees are the vision carriers. Incentivizing them through rewards can be a great motivator to take the necessary steps towards these goals. Use a variety of rewards and ensure that they are rewards that the employees actually want. Additionally, ensure fairness by aligning rewards to performance and making employees aware of how to get those rewards.
Written by Josh Levinne
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