The Best Green Ideas Might Just Come From the Janitor

Brand and Strategy

Mop and pail with recycle arrows

Going green is good for business. It can improve your competitive advantage, cut costs, and make employees and shareholders happier. When it comes to generating ideas about how your organization can be greener and more socially responsible, try starting with your employees.

Typically the best ideas come from the ‘shop floor’ because employees involved in the work can often see where changes can be made to create a more sustainable organization. Maybe the janitor would like to use greener cleaning products or sees opportunities for improving the recycling program, perhaps a marketing manager has identified a great fit between the organization and a social cause, or maybe the woman on the assembly line has a fantastic idea that would reduce energy consumption. The question is, how do you gather these suggestions and promote ongoing green innovation? The answer is internal communication.


Here are four ways that internal communication can play a role in harnessing green ideas.


1. Listen

You can learn so much by simply listening. When people think of employee communications they start worrying about newsletters, emails or fancy apps, but they forget about the importance of listening.  If the most basic of human needs is the need to understand and be understood, then listening is job #1. I’m not talking about personal listening skills — I am talking about the ability of your organization to hear what your employees are saying and harness this valuable information.


2. Foster Openness

There is no sense in creating mechanisms for dialogue and feedback if people are apprehensive about speaking up. Make it safe for your employees to come forward and contribute. You can do this by embracing different opinions and diverse points of view, and not immediately judging ideas. Make it clear that all contributions are valued, not just the winning ideas.


3. Encourage Innovation and Collaboration

Communication can contribute to a culture of innovation and collaboration. For example, communication can help break down the silos that exist in an organization, promoting understanding between specialized groups that can help foster collaboration. There are also many ways that communication can support and encourage innovation including, promoting programs that reward and recognize ideas, introducing information technology platforms where problems can be communicated and employees can brainstorm solutions, or even by using an old-fashioned suggestion box.


4. Celebrate and Reward Success

What better way to generate more ideas than to show how green initiatives can achieve results. Sharing success stories and communicating the positive impact that green initiatives are having on your business can encourage buy-in, motivate employees, and build an eco-minded workforce.


One big bonus: By harnessing ideas for green initiatives from your own employees you will be a step ahead when implementing those ideas — after all, who better to lead the charge to a more sustainable organization then the people who came up with the ideas in the first place!

Want to harness employee innovation to build a more sustainable organization? Give us a call – we can help.

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