Positive incentives for employees to reduce resource use

Positive incentives for employees to reduce resource use
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Energy, Materials, Water, Waste, Carbon
All sectors
Low cost
Annual saving:
5 - 10 %
Payback time:
0.5 - 1 Year(s)
Premises and operation areas:
Office management, Product and design, Production processes, Supply operations, Waste and recycling
Size of company:
Micro (less than 10), Small (less than 50), Medium (less than 250)
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures:
One off investment:
0 - 500€
What is in it for you:
Better cooperation in your team, better efficiency, and sharing innovative ideas are just some of the benefits.
Descriptive information:

Positive incentives for employees are closely related to information, education and training activities. While information and training are often the first steps, this measure focuses on positive incentives to perpetuate or strengthen environmentally friendly behaviour.

Creating incentives around energy and resource use in the company can lead to overall improvments in staff motivation that translates into better business performance and operational efficiency. This can generate cost-savings on inputs (raw materials) and outputs (waste or unused materials), as well as strengthen the innovation culture in an enterprise, resulting in new, resource-efficient products and services, competitive advantage and stronger sales.

Positive incentives can also contribute to team-building (team spirit), which again can help with employee retention, foster creative ideas, and ultimately reflect on business performance and sales. Moreover, community ties and customer relations (increased interest of customers in the environmental performance of companies) can be strengthened.

There are many ways to set up positive incentives for employees to reduce resource use, including:

  • Direct and prompt feedback on achieved savings, e.g. information on energy consumption and savings can strengthen the motivation to keep up the effort and save even more resources
  • Competitions and prizes for the best ideas to save resources or energy, which can be rated and measured according to the success of the measure (winners could be presented at company events, via posters or on the intranet, etc.)
  • Employee involvement and engagement via an idea management process that rewards proactivity
  • Financial rewards or bonuses for all staff if energy use decreases, thus sharing the saved costs among staff (monetary or material prizes for competition winners), and the feeling of being part of something bigger
  • Promotion of success stories to promote and value resource-saving behaviour, but also innovation and idea promotion, and general communication measures

In terms of benefits: 

  • Strongly depend on the sector, management and especially the organisational culture
  • Cannot be precisely predicted but metrics can be collected when the measure is linked to some targets
  • Measures can yield significant benefits in resource and cost savings
  • Measures can contribute to the company culture/team spirit
  • Good practice examples have shown energy savings of up to 9 % in the IT sector and around 5 % in retail

In terms of costs: 

  • Costs depend on the measure(s) taken
  • Measures generally incur limited additional costs
  • All costs can be controlled

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