Engaging employees in sustainability initiatives takes creativity and strategy. Learn how we used the EcoChallenge platform to supercharge employee activity in behaviors that reduce environmental impacts and promote wellness.
EcoChallenge is a two-week online behavior change program hosted by the Northwest Earth Institute each October. The platform gives individuals a fun and social online way to commit to making positive changes to support their own health and the Earth. Categories of change include: food, health, water, transportation, energy, community, waste, nature, and simplicity.
In 2017, we had a 35 percent increase in employee participation in EcoChallenge from the previous year. We scored eighth in the competition overall, which included over 12,000 people from 83 countries.
These six tips can help make the most out of EcoChallenge participation.
- Create an Internal Team to Plan – Employees from different sectors formed a team to meet varied interests. Our team included: community affairs, internal communications, waste minimization, environmental management, energy management and human resources.
- Work with Your Human Resources Department – Employees already must achieve “wellness credit” to qualify for certain health insurance benefits. We aligned EcoChallenge to those requirements so employees would receive credit if they met criteria.
- Challenge Another Organization – Healthy competition can spur employees to action! Competition helped frame messaging to encourage participation. Social science studies show that individuals tend to perform better when it benefits a cause larger than themselves.
- Provide Incentives – We provided gift card incentives to those employees who recruited others. The EcoChallenge also gives points for recruitment to participants to further boost their individual score.
- Communicate Regularly – People are busy, and gentle reminders to log in to the platform helped. A final email reported back results and recognized top performers.
- Reward Participation – Employees had the opportunity to win prizes. Top three point-achievers received an award, and we entered all active participants into a prize drawing. We gave away Chinook books to promote local sustainable businesses in the Portland metropolitan area.
The platform provides a way to measure which sustainability behaviors employees already engage in and determine what garners the most interest. Top challenges selected by our team in 2017 included:
- Go for a Daily Walk
- Get a Check-Up
- Exercise Daily
- Happiness Practice
- Power Down the Computer
While wellness was popular, they also made impressive gains in conservation by saving 5,217 gallons of water!
The platform also provided a way to share success stories and challenges:
“Adopting the needs vs. wants mentality has had a big impact on me. To at least insert that thought before each purchase, even if it doesn’t ultimately alter the course, is a very good filter by which to consider your consumption! Have taken the time to talk to my Daughter about this one too and embed it in our daily lives.”
“It really helped with becoming more self-aware of your choices, not just your individual challenge. As well has having some self-care practices become priority.”
“I realized that little changes can add up to big savings, one day at a time.”
“Every time I reached for my phone in search of screen time, I opted to go for a walk instead! This helped me to keep moving!”
Our full feed can be found here: https://2017.ecochallenge.org/teams/port-of-portland/posts