How to Get People to Change (for the Greener): Part 5

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In February 2010, SSC President, Jennifer Woofter, commented on points made by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (of Made to Stick fame) in an article featured in Inc., How to Get People to Change.  In the article, the authors discussed their new book on change management and Jennifer thought that it was a fascinating look at what it takes for people to shift their thinking and their actions. 

Social influence is strong. If a third of your employees aren't filling out their expense reports on time, what they may not know is that two-thirds of your employees are. Sometimes just understanding that a crowd of people is moving in a direction makes people uncomfortable enough to change. One of my favorite studies in the book is about a group of researchers who went into hotels that have those "Please reuse your towels" signs. They changed one of the signs to say, "Most people in this hotel reuse their towels at least once during their stay." Immediately, towel reuse rates went up 25 percent, and laundry bills went down.

This is not just about letting people in your organization know about the “green things” that their colleagues are doing, but also about setting expectations.  And to do this effectively, you need to have some simple metrics.  Do you know how many of your employees recycle?  How many of them telecommute at least once a month?  Take advantage of public transit commuter benefits?  Before you can use social influence in the workplace, you need to have credible data backing you up.

This summer, we're giving sharing the best articles from the SSC website, going back eight years. The article above was originally posted on March 22, 2010. We'll be back in September with all new content. In the meantime, if you're interested in learning more about SSC, or working with an SSC consultant, please contact us!