Measuring the Effect of the Green Team
The YMCA should create impact surveys that can be handed out to the employees and placed on the YMCA website. At first, these will measure the employees’ personal sustainability efforts and their current knowledge of the YMCA’s green initiatives. Later in the year, the surveys can be modified to see if there is improvement in employee motivation, inspiration, retention, or excitement towards the YMCA’s initiatives. The Green Team can also track the number of employees that have gone through the updated orientation program and the children that have taken part in the after school programs and “Go Green” events.
Costs and Benefits of a Green Team
The primary cost of the Green Team is that all individuals involved in the Green Team must take some time away from work in order to participate. Although we are unable to quantify the cost, the benefits are numerous. Carrie Freeman, a Corporate Sustainability Strategist at Intel, stated,
“When it comes to looking at ways to reduce our footprint, we very much see a direct correlation between reducing our costs and engaging our employees. Be it changing light bulbs, turning off the lights or getting your employees to innovate greener solutions in their jobs, engaging your employees to identify easy, low cost efficiency initiatives can result in significant cost savings.”
Libby Reder, Head of Environmental Initiatives at eBay, believes that their green team is one of main reasons some employees choose to stay with eBay. According to eBay’s recruiters, the presence of their green team also allows them to attract the best talent because the green team gives employees an outlet for their personal interests and shows the authenticity of the organization’s commitment to becoming more sustainable. PwC’s Managing Tomorrow’s People survey, found that 86% of employees surveyed would consider leaving an employer whose corporate responsibility behavior no longer met their expectations. Furthermore, a recent poll on green employment by MonsterTRAK.com found that 80% of young professionals are interested in securing a job that has a positive impact on the environment, and 92% would be more inclined to work for a company that is environmentally friendly. In regard to employee turnover, Reder believes that the presence of a green team helps to raise morale and improve an employee’s loyalty toward eBay because it is engaging. According to the popular book Engaged!, losing and having to replace an employee can cost more than 70% of an employee’s annual salary. If the YMCA were to create a green team as part of its sustainability strategy, it would likely reap many of the aforementioned benefits.
Part 2 – Integrating Sustainability into Employee Orientation
In order to build sustainability into the YMCA’s culture, awareness needs to be created in the beginning. Currently, the YMCA’s employee orientation is 4 hour long, which includes 2 hours of relationship training at the administrative office on customer service and 2 hours of new employee orientation at branches on a rotating basis. The new employee orientation covers everything the employees should know about the YCMA: its history, mission, culture, safety issues, rules, expectations, etc. We believe that the YMCA should also incorporate 15 minutes of discussion on the topic of sustainability. Before this can be done however, the trainers need to be trained.
At the Guilderland branch of the YMCA, new employee orientation is handled by Patrick Barrington, John J. Hayden, and 2-3 other individuals known as the Orientation Task Force. These five individuals need to completely understand sustainability before they can teach others about it, so they will need some form of training. The SUNY Albany Sustainability Program offers free education on the topic of sustainability. Working in conjunction with members of the SUNY Albany Sustainability Program, Mr. Barrington, Mr. Hayden, and the Orientation Task Force, can develop a standardized video and/or PowerPoint presentation on sustainability for use in the YMCA orientation program; it would be seen as a message from the CEO. This video and/or PowerPoint would likely debut in the Guilderland YMCA, and eventually be used across all YMCAs with the approval of the CEO. As the CDYMCA is currently re-vamping their training process, this new initiative can be built in immediately.
The 15-minute sustainability part of employee orientation can be divided into 3 sections (see below). While part of the presentation should include a standardized message for all YMCA orientations, some sections will need to be tailored to each branch, at the discretion of the management team, depending on specific programs and service offerings.
Section 1 – This is an introduction to the importance of sustainability. This would likely contain the video and/or presentation standardized for all YMCAs. Two potential items that could be included are: (1) an indication of why sustainability is important to the employees and to the CDYMCA and (2) how the actions of the employees can impact the environment and the organization.
Section 2 – This provides a specific description of what the YMCA has done in the past to become more sustainable. For example, by implementing paper reduction rules (double-sided printing, use of recycled paper, limited packaging), the YMCA has reduced its paper usage by about 25%, saving approximately one million sheets of paper. The advantages of implementing the solar panels in Guilderland YMCA facility should be introduced as an example as well.
Section 3 – The final section could include suggestions of how the employees can help the YMCA continue to progress toward sustainability in the future. Here, employees could be introduced to the Green Team, informed about what the team does, and encouraged to participate in and/or join the team. In addition, new employees could be encouraged to “like” the Green Team’s YMCA Facebook page, should the YMCA choose to put that on the existing page. As an example specific actions that employees can take to make their office green, see Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 2 in the appendix.
Costs and Benefits of Integrating Sustainability into Employee Orientation
There are two costs to integrating sustainability into employee orientation: (1) The time spent educating the five individuals who will be training the employees, and (2) the time required to create the video and/or PowerPoint presentation customized for the YMCA. The total time spent on these two areas should only be a couple of hours. The benefits to this would be more engaged employees and an important reminder that the employees can have a huge effect on the success of the YMCA.