How Gaming Can Deliver Your Sustainability Targets

To compete with rivals, it is a good idea to think ahead. Even though green legislation affecting business is relatively new, it pays for companies to review their green strategy to protect themselves from penalties as new laws are enforced. But on a practical level, how do you make sustainability a priority?

At your weekly team meeting, it would be safe to assume sustainability targets would not be the first thing debated. But if green issues are to have a large impact inside the boardroom, it is at this grassroots level that sustainability needs to be discussed. As difficult as it may sound, there are mechanisms many of us have experienced in our younger years that can unite a workforce towards a common green purpose.

Game mechanics, the psychology behind many pastimes and games, provides the tools which can help bring a large audience to address a concern. Regarded by many as the next great thing, the concept has been with the human race since its existence. From an early age, people learn and then master a variety of riddles, board, computer, and physical games. A microcosm of society, games teach children about structure, the rules of the game are learned, cheaters are marginalized.

Modern software makes it relatively easy to bring game mechanics into companies, and terms related to gaming are prevalent in the business world, such as “competition” and “rewards.” Gaming shows no sign of becoming yesterday’s news, either. Figures suggest that today half a billion gamers are online per day and according to Gartner 50 per cent of business applications will be gamified by 2013.

Below are five topics on how game mechanics should be used to maximize the talent in your workforce to hit ambitious sustainability goals:

Playing the game: Staff globally must be responsible for their sustainability performance management by setting aggressive goals and managing them in real-time, across the business. By performing well and not letting down their peers, the employee maintains his/her status amongst them. Now, there is technology available which enables users to find out what their individual green ranking is compared to others and provides tips to decrease water, gas and electricity usage.

Gaming is predominantly social and there is no better way in building rapport between staff by conquering challenges together. The thrill of beating their neighbors will bring endorsement from employees.

Talking company currency: Rewards are there to encourage high achieving employees to do even better. Innovate and reward successful employees using company currency whether it is a day off, a financial bonus or a spa day. Additional research from Ernst and Young adds weight to the long-term benefits to the brand as it suggests sustainable companies are more attractive to investors. Risk management plays a large part in investor confidence, so put any potential risk with the environment to rest now.

6,500 reasons why sustainability helps the balance sheet: Think about financial currency. Reducing energy usage leads to cost savings to the entire business of 10 per cent. In the UK, forthcoming research suggests the individual employee costs businesses nationwide an additional £6,500 on top of salary and tax. The invisible costs which are not taken in account are company subsidized business travel and energy used at work. Impetus must be focused on changing employee behavior so they treat energy usage at work as they would treat it at home.

Right here, right now: To avoid risk and falling foul ofenvironmental legislations, understanding what is being used where is crucial to locate potential savings. Look into technology which captures and reports energy usage and emissions data swiftly and precisely. Use software to provide up-to-date, accurate measurements on internal operations. When these statistics are collected, a pro-environmental strategy can be designed and objectives distributed to each team, department or section. There is great value in having feedback in real time as enhancements can be made as soon as possible.

Press home the business case of sustainability: The hardest part is winning over the person with final authority to sign-off on resources. Sustainability has been previously considered as a “soft” topic, but with its importance to the economic stability of businesses coupled with the current economic climate, this topic cannot be ignored any longer.

Top-down initiatives fail to engage the workforce due to the lack of understanding and ultimately the feeling of being forced to follow orders. A more progressive way is to change behavior in a bottom-up approach. In that way, employees become spokespeople for the green issue and able to educate the board on how technology can provide benefits to all sides.

Look into saving water, light, heat use as they yield faster results than restructuring the entire business. Rather than losing employees, use game mechanics to encourage the whole organization towards meeting green objectives.

Peter Grant is CEO of CloudApps, an award-winning provider of sustainability and energy management software, enabling visionary organizations to make exceptional cost savings and meet sustainability targets by aligning the entire enterprise behind corporate sustainability goals. The software suite solves the sustainability challenge by connecting the sustainability efforts of employees on the front-line, or “bottom-up”, with the “top-down” commitments made by management.