Go green and get engaged – a guide to sustainable employee engagement incentives

Keeping staff on track and on board should be a priority for any company, but as with all things in business, it can be easier said than done! While it can be all too easy to give a present in fancy packaging, or fly the highest-performing team members to a far-flung destination, these types of rewards and incentives can be heavy hitting on a budget and the planet.

Although we can't promise your sales team will hit record targets or your receptionist will become administrator of the year, what we can suggest are ways to use green rewards schemes that recognise your team's efforts in an environmentally friendly way.

US-based research company Gallup studied levels of employee engagement around the world and released a report on the subject in 2013. The results showed that across Australia and New Zealand, only 24 per cent of employees considered themselves to be engaged in their work. Gallup interviewed approximately 180 million workers globally, so that's a lot of unhappy workers in this part of the world.

The green research

In 2006, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed how much Australians care about the environment. The most recent data in the report showed that in 2004 more than half (60 per cent) of Aussies were concerned about looking after the planet. 

Even though that's a significant amount of people who do realise more action needs to be taken to protect the environment, the figures show that a remaining 40 per cent don't care about the planet, and that's a problem.

As we spend a significant amount of time at work (often too much – 14 per cent of Australians work very long hours according to the OECD Better Life Index), including environmentally aware incentives and rewards in the workplace could lead to more sustainable, planet-friendly attitudes. More engaged, productive workers and a healthier, cleaner environment – what's not to like?

Green gifts

Everyone enjoys receiving presents – especially if it's a reward for doing their job well. While it can be tempting to splash out on luxuriously wrapped chocolates or other gifts with plenty of packaging, this same material can be detrimental to the environment. Instead, why not consider sustainable corporate gifts which are made from green fabrics.

This means that you can reward employees without worrying about sending emissions out into the atmosphere. Companies are doing their bit to help the environment, and staff are feeling more connected with and interested in their work – that sounds like a win-win situation!

Ozone-friendly online recognition

In 2012, the University of North Carolina published a report entitled Maximising Millenials in the Workplace. The study suggested that the workforce is becoming increasingly younger and made up of many "tech-savvy multi-taskers". Technology doesn't just mean less time to complete tasks and easier international access – it can also be used as an incentives tool to encourage employee engagement too, whether a worker is 21 or 51.

People may be likely to share ideas and be more expressive when using online platforms, such as messaging tools and shared virtual notice boards, as it allows for a variety of personalities and working styles to contribute. Not only is this an easy and quick way to continuously ensure more workers are recognised for the work they do, if you use sustainable technology, it's exceptionally eco-friendly too! No paper, no emissions, no waste – just praise without the potential for pollution. 

If your organisation is looking for ways to keep employees engaged with an incentives and rewards scheme, then be sure to consider green, sustainable options for a happier workforce as well as a healthier planet.