Hand out some green slips 

photo by Carl Weaver

In this economy, the proverbial “pink slip” is being handed out left and right. (Does anyone get an actual pink slip?) But what if businesses put an environmental – and positive – spin on the pink slip, turning it into a green slip?

Hear me out.

What if employees were rewarded for making true progress toward a greener office, and thereby, a greener life? What if employees were handed a green slip? It’s similar to the workplace wellness initiatives thousands of companies have implemented over the last few years. They are great for morale and retention, but the true financial gain, is in making employees healthier and keeping company insurance costs down.

Under these wellness programs, employees are rewarded for losing weight, kicking smoking, exercising, eating healthy and striving to achieve a less stressful lifestyle. Some studies indicate for every $1 spent on wellness initiatives, employers see a return of $3.

It’s a terrific initiative – promote a healthy lifestyle at the one place where people spend a large part of their time. So, let’s extend that line of thinking to the environment. Hand out green slips and reward employees who take an extra step toward working green.

1. Establish a green team. Tap some of your more environmentally conscious employees to lead the charge for a greener workplace. Let the green team generate ideas and buzz to get other employees to turn your office green.

2. Offer incentives. Everybody likes a prize, so give a perk to employees who participate in green efforts. But, make sure your prizes themselves are green: reusable shopping bags, CFL light bulbs or a “telecommute day” so employees can save gas by working from home.

3. Save money. I knew that would get your attention. Encourage your employees and the green team to look for ways the company can save money and the environment – a real business two-for-one deal. Some examples would be doing away with water bottles and putting in a water cooler. Provide reusable cups and glasses instead of plastic or paper cups that get tossed after one use. Reuse paper – print memos on blank sides of already used paper and when you can, print on both sides of the paper. E-mail employees company memos, newsletters or announcements rather than printing a copy for everyone’s mailbox.

What are you waiting for? Start handing out green slips and watch your employees spring to action.

Could this work at your office? Would you be willing to try? Share your ideas for how to encourage a green team.

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