Overcoming cynicism from greenwashing

It's no secret that more companies are going green to reduce expenses and gain some public support. A number of studies have shown that consumers are more supportive – at least emotionally – of businesses that practice green operations and produce environment-friendly goods, highlighting the need for organizations to at least consider reducing their carbon footprint.

That said, there are good and bad ways of going about a green transformation. Some measures can easily be perceived as “disguised cost-cutting” among employees. For example, the practice of hot-desking – the consolidation of workstations to one area – is frequently touted as a green initiative, but for many workers, it feels like a thinly veiled attempt to reduce expenses that further inconveniences them. Employee engagement is everything, as it significantly impacts productivity, so employers need to avoid any green measures that could be met with cynicism by employees.

“Employers need to take far greater care in how they present and substantiate such measures,” Public Service magazine explains. “If they fail to do so, if they continue to fall back on the convenient cliches that invite so much doubt and contempt, their workforces will only become more disillusioned and disinclined. Today's act of child-like mutiny is tomorrow's slide in morale – and next week's drop in productivity.”

Going Lean and Green

There is a balance that needs to be walked. Something like hot-desking can easily be taken too far, and may end up actually creating a negative and disengaging workplace. To that end, it might be better for employers to investigate all the different ways they can go green before they start enacting massive changes such as hot-desking.

Lean manufacturing is one approach businesses can take to reduce waste on the tasks and operations already being performed. When it comes to manufacturing, waste is a common factor that many businesses overlook, whether it's misused materials and components or overused energy. Small things such as streamlining supply chain routes or creating shorter line processes that enable equipment to be used less frequently can have a big impact on companies' carbon footprints.

Going green doesn't have to mean extreme measures that inconvenience your employees and create a negative workplace environment – sometimes it's as simple as eliminating waste through Kaizen.