Webcor Builders helps personalize employee commitments to a sustainable future

Originally published in US Green Building Council,

Webcor Builders engages employees in its sustainability efforts to great effect.

In construction, sustainability efforts are often measured by the efficiency of a building’s life cycle, and although LEED is an important tool for building Webcor’s commitment to a healthier, greener future, it’s equally important for us to connect with employees at a personal level. To advance this vision, Webcor developed two employee engagement programs early in 2016, both of which relied heavily on individual participation.

For the Zero Waste Textile Collection Donation Program (Zero Waste), employees collected clothing and textile waste from home to help eliminate the impact on landfills. At the end of the two-week period, a total of 2,552 pounds of clothing and textiles were collected and donated—that’s the equivalent weight of 510 Chihuahuas.

Earth Day inspired a three-week Earth Month Challenge leading up to April 25. Employees used our corporate social site to view each challenge and share their progress with photos and daily posts. New challenges were published each week to support green habits, such as getting outdoors, buying local foods, saving water and energy and limiting waste and daily car use.

At the end of the challenge, employees saved 27,000 gallons of water by eating meatless meals; reduced 45 kilograms of carbon emissions for one week by using reusable bags; and increased overall levels of energy, creativity and brain function by taking their lunches outside.

“Sharing social responsibility and philanthropic endeavors outside of construction is important to our company culture,” says Jes Pedersen, CEO of Webcor Builders. “We have a small but strong sustainability department that collaborated with some of our key leaders to make these campaigns successful and fun for our employees. Our mission is to build the best buildings for our clients, all while making net positive impacts for our environment.”

Between 2015 and 2016, participation in sustainability programs at Webcor nearly doubled. Here’s why:

  • We made decisions based on feedback. Before initiating these programs, we brainstormed activities that employees might enjoy, shared them with employees from different regions and departments around the company and then decided how to move forward.
  • We built leadership in. After choosing each program, we designated one “champion” at each job site to promote the upcoming activities to their teams. With the Earth Month Challenge, we reached out to senior-level management and asked them to champion specific challenges as an example to others.
  • We developed momentum and sustained it. We grew participation in Earth Month by sending out notices each week and sharing employee participation via email, social media, Webcor’s intranet and in person.

There are many ways to motivate employees and grow a company culture around sustainability. Here are a few ideas to start:

  • Reach out to upper management for support. This may include the CEO of the company or other respected leaders.
  • Offer incentives to employees who participate by giving out prizes for challenges and competitions. Most people will appreciate company recognition.
  • Use internal social channels if you have them (we use Yammer). Online communities have the potential to reach more people from every area of your company.
  • Share photos of employees and their achievements with the rest of the company. When people see what their colleagues and peers are up to, inspiration can spark in an instant.

(As featured by the USGBC)