|It’s becoming increasingly common for organisations to incentivise eco-friendly behaviour by, for example paying employees to use public transport or carpool, rather than driving to the office.The government’s Cycle to Work Scheme aims to promote healthier journeys to work whilst reducing environmental pollution by allowing employers to loan cycles and cyclists’ safety equipment to their employees as a tax-free benefit. This saving equates to 16 – 40% off the cost of a new bike. In a nutshell, employers buy the bike and then the cost is repaid (with tax and National Insurance excluded) monthly via the employee’s salary. You could supply staff with printed reflectors or Hi Vis vests, jackets or bags with printed with your logo when they sign up.
If your organisation has already implemented this scheme and want to change up a gear (see what we did there?!) read on to see how AllEarth Renewables a solar tracker manufacturer based in Vermont, USA began to look at this issue.
In the past it paid a $300 benefit for people to take the bus rather than using their own cars to travel to work and offered subsidies for staff to buy a hybrid car or to make energy saving improvements at home. They then went up another gear, and decided to do something totally different!
Instead of incentivising staff it turned the tables around and now ‘penalises’ failure to cut energy use. Under the new incentive, called REWIRE, the company gives all employees $6,000 a year to cover all their driving, electricity, and heating needs, and then ‘charges’ them the equivalent of 15 cents per kilowatt hour based on how much fuel they use – the benefit being if they use less than their allowance they keep the difference – thus AllEarth has effectively introduced a carbon tax, though it is subsidising people to pay it.
The company believe the scheme is easy to operate (staff report how much energy they’ve used on driving, electricity, heating etc which is measured at 15 cents per kilowatt hour and then that amount is taken away from the $6,000 starting figure) and what’s more it’s united the workforce as they regularly get together and discuss how they can save energy (and gain their bonuses!) For example one employee swapped their ‘gas-guzzler’ for a more fuel-efficient vehicle and saves about $2,100 a year in petrol and additionally gains $1,500 from the bonus pot! Although it’s only been in existence a short time the company believe the scheme will keep delivering savings and hope it’ll be adopted by other organisations. Why not suggest such a plan at your next staff meeting and gauge the reaction – or encourage them to come up with their own energy saving plans – you could offer eco-friendly giveaways such as solar powered phone chargers or a wind up torch to anyone that comes up with a good suggestion that gets adopted.
Read more about this incentive from a piece originally written by freelance journalist Ben Schiller that appeared on Fast Company’s Co Exist site.