Small businesses with more than 12 or 20 employees have a big opportunity when it comes to sustainability: They can tap their employees’ expertise to find new and better strategies for going green.
A so-called “green team” is a committee of employees that meets regularly, typically during work hours, to help their employer bolster sustainability. The idea is that mobilizing employees around sustainability will not only spawn new strategies but also bolster employee buy-in.
Yet, green teams will fizzle or fall apart if they aren’t carefully implemented. Here are some ways small business leaders can ensure their green teams are effective.
1. Invite the most passionate employees. Teams work best when members are passionate about their mission. Start your team by reaching out to those employees most interested in sustainability, and ask them if they’re willing to head up the green team. Chances are, they are armed with ideas and can best energize other employees to help reduce the company’s footprint.
2. Create a well-rounded team. Once you’ve recruited solid leaders, recruit a diverse team of employees from different roles within the company or different departments. Ideally, you want a group small enough to be effective but broad enough to get a full range of perspectives. It often helps to have one person from company leadership on the green team, but it must be clear that he or she is just another team member – not the boss.
3. Establish goals early on. Initial meetings of your green team should focus on setting some goals to help guide the team. Having company leadership in those first meetings can help ensure everyone is on the same page. Perhaps the goal is bolstering the company’s recycling program, reducing its carbon footprint or exploring ways to better engage employees in sustainability. Writing down these priorities will serve as a road map for the team moving forward and ensure everyone knows what the goals are.
4. Create protocols. Early on, discuss protocols. Determine a regular schedule for team meetings and assign roles within the team, such as who is in charge of record-keeping or communicating the team’s progress with management and other employees. Also set a schedule for how and when communications with management and employees will happen. Perhaps the team will meet quarterly with management to discuss their findings and recommendations and send out periodic e-mail updates to all employees.
5. Prepare to implement the team’s recommendations. Be fully prepared to take action based on the green team’s recommendations. The easiest to deflate a green team’s momentum is to create the team and then never take action on any of its recommendations.