AWE -- Alliance for Workplace Excellence
Supporting Workplaces that Benefit Employees, Communities and the Environment
2011 Q & A

QUESTION: As an organization that has been able to create a sustainable workplace, what advice would you give to others who aspire to achieve your level of success?

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

First, educate your staff. Make sure they know the what and the why. Second, get a commitment from senior management. Third, plan to seek some sort of certification.

Booz Allen Hamilton

In 2010, we formalized our Sustainability Program, which is a multifaceted campaign to protect the environment that begins with limiting the environmental footprint of our firm’s internal operations and extends well beyond. Our new Sustainability Program Office, Sustainability Steering Committee (made up of officers), and Sustainability Committee (comprising senior employees) ensure sustainability concepts are fully incorporated across our facilities infrastructure, procurement, travel, human resources, and information systems.

To create a sustainable workplace, you must make an effort to include all employees – not only those at the top. Employee-led Green Clubs at most Booz Allen offices develop sustainability programs at their locations, suggest ideas to the Sustainability Committee, and coordinate local pro bono environmental activities.

Calvert Investments

A workplace focused on sustainability and wellness can be achieved! It takes a true interest in sustainability, a commitment to shifting the culture of your workplace, and unshakable buy-in from all levels of management. While Calvert is known for its sustainability practices, we never rest on our laurels or think we’ve got it all figured out. We are always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to incorporate wellness and sustainability into our workplace. It is vital to look outside our own office space, keep a pulse on what others are doing and research the latest and greatest in workplace wellness and sustainability practices.

Carroll Hospital Center

At Carroll Hospital Center, we are committed to protect & preserve the earth’s resources by seeking innovative ways to conserve, reduce, reuse, and recycle by actions of the Associates, physicians, volunteers, patients & visitors to our hospital, our affiliated businesses and agencies located throughout the county and of our community.

We do this by:

—Creating awareness among Associates, physicians, patients & visitors of environmentally friendly practices & the benefits to human health.

—Coordinating annual self-assessment measuring baseline & progress on identified key indicators such as environmental management, waste reduction, mercury and green purchasing. Using the data, prioritize objectives and create action plans.

—Developing and implementing strategies and action plans to specifically address waste management and minimization programs. i.e. sub-groups & action plans developed for the following initiatives:

• Recycling
• Waste Reduction
• Regulated Waste Reduction
• Purchasing Strategies
• Energy Efficiency
• Water Conservation
• Education & Outreach – including new employee orientation
• Green Cleaning
• This may include drafting environmental/waste management policies, creating and implementing new procedures, education, communication and recognition and reward programs.

—Monitoring and evaluating program outcomes; communicate success to the Environmental Leadership Council and hospital community.

Global Environment Fund

Traditionally when a business contemplates a decision, small or large, a cost-benefit analysis is conducted. I would urge other businesses as general practice to add to the equation environmental impact, giving consideration to energy consumption, pollution, and waste.

Honest Tea, Inc.

It begins with our product, and the mission to create healthier beverages for all. All of our varieties are USDA certified organic and we recently converted all tea varieties to Fair Trade certification. Our employees are passionate about what they do, and believe in a sustainable work environment. We have done our best to create an office that is environmentally friendly by incorporating reclaimed bricks, bamboo flooring, gently-used desk and chairs, and a composting bin into our space.

IntelliDyne, LLC

Create an environment that encourages, motivates, and inspires your employees to be passionate about their organization and take pride in the work they do. This can be achieved by investing in your people and providing them with opportunities for both personal and professional growth and wellbeing.

JBS International, Inc.

First, we want to make it clear that the idea for a sustainable workplace came from our staff. A group of employees who are advocates and activists within the environmental movement asked us to embark on this initiative. They volunteered to design and lead what has become known as our Green Team, and sustainability took off from there. We are rewarding those who have stepped forward to participate in this effort with internal recognition and awards. We also encourage people to be “more green” at home—creating a ripple effect so that our corporate actions benefit individuals and the community. Sustainability has not been a “hard sell” at JBS; most of our employees recognized the importance of reducing their carbon footprint, and they support the Green Team’s efforts—even onsite composting, which we have all quickly learned is easy and odorless!

Our advice to others would be to start small and not to try to do everything at once. Some steps are easy and inexpensive, such as replacing paper products with reusable coffee mugs and cutlery. You can change non-environmentally friendly cleaning products with environmentally friendly ones as your old stock is depleted; purchase environmentally sustainable/fair trade coffee and tea products; use green caterers for company events; and make recycling easy by providing recycling bins throughout the office and placing a recycling container for paper at each employee’s desk. As you begin to see savings in many of these areas, start to look at bigger projects, such as purchasing/leasing more energy-efficient copiers and computers that will save more money in the long run. It is important to do background research on vendors to find out what they are doing to become more sustainable—ask them questions and share your concerns about protecting the environment with them.

LifeWork Strategies, Inc.

Find ways to make every employee, customer and colleague feel valued. Encourage genuine communication and seek ideas and feedback at all levels.

Main Event Caterers LLC

We all get caught up in the day-to-day of working IN our business and leave little or no time to work ON our business. But as we all know, if you’re not moving forward you’re moving backward. Our advice is to schedule quiet time away from your business so you can concentrate on creative ways to set your business apart, both from a competition standpoint as well as attracting quality employees.

Optimal Networks, Inc.

Build a foundation on corporate values. Optimal Networks runs on three core values: (1)Tell the truth. We always tell the truth as we see it. No exceptions. (2)Do the right thing. Doing the right thing only matters when you do the hard things that are right. We do. (3) Everyone benefits. Everyone who comes into contact with us must be better off for the experience. Clients. Employees. Partners. Everyone. We live these core values. They guide each and every decision we make and interaction we have.

Ryan, LLC

Things to do to establish an effective “flexible” work environment:

• Figure out what “flexible” means to your organization
• Involve employees in the original design
• Plan carefully – “measure twice, cut once”
• Equip employees with resources needed to succeed
• Determine exactly how to align systems, processes, and measurements
• Learn how to trust and empower employees
• Deal with tough issues quickly and decisively
• Don’t panic or abandon the plan at the first sign of trouble
• Seek feedback from employees; benchmark with others
• Enhance – continuously improve

Bottom-line Realities:

• Poor performers will quickly hit the radar if you get this right
• Businesses are in business to stay in business
• This is not about “cum-ba-ya”
• Profitability and sustainability are key
• There is a balance between what has to be done and when it has to be done to meet business objectives
• Employees in a flexible workplace have to realize it goes both ways
• We all have to flex to the needs of the organization to ensure its success
• Communication, collaboration, and consideration are key

St. Mary’s Hospital

A green think tank is critical to the eco-progress of an organization. This think tank must include frontline staff, mid-level managers and administration. It also needs to have the autonomy to explore ALL opportunities and possibilities to continue to strive for eco-excellence.

Transportation Management Services, Inc.

Don’t be afraid to try new and different ideas and listen to feedback from employees; you never know what new ideas an open conversation will create.

Washington Real Estate Investment Trust

Take baby steps in implementing any program. You need to achieve full by in from management and employees. Form an internal committee with people from different divisions and levels to champion the cause. Start with the easy no or low cost ideas. Go to the county and see what resources are available to help your organization plan and implement. Perseverance is key. Old habits are hard to break.

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