Thursday, July 17, 2008

Do employee incentives improve energy efficiency?

At Microsoft they do.

With energy costs rising daily, everyone is looking for ways to become more energy efficient. Microsoft has found a way to use employee incentive programs to reduce the energy consumption of its growing data centers.

In the past, Microsoft business groups were charged for using the company’s data centers based on the floor space they took up. Instead of charging for space, Microsoft now charges business units on the amount of energy they consumed. The shift made individual business models more conscious of energy consumption, finding new ways to cut back.

Yearly bonuses for Microsoft facility managers are now also based on efficiency improvements. Executives say there has been a noticeable behavior change.

Small businesses, like one New York real estate developer, are also using employee incentives to promote energy efficiency among employees. RexCorp, real estate developer and property management company, offers prime parking spaces for hybrid driving employees, visibly marked “hybrid only.”

From the Environmental Leader, the list of companies developing new employee incentive ideas for energy efficiency is growing:

  • GlaxoSmithKline, pharmaceutical company, reimburses employees the first $30 for bus fees.
  • IBM encourages telecommuting, with more than 40% of employees working outside of the office.
Verizon reports any idling time of technicians’ vehicles over 10 minutes as a deviation.
  • Cisco Systems created 36 VIP parking spaces for hybrids and cars that use biodiesel or ethanol.
  • Swiss Re offers employees’ subsidies for environmental purchases including hybrid cars.

What do you think? We know that employee incentives can improve performance and employee retention, but can they improve the energy efficiency of your business?

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