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The Environment as a Stakeholder?

Use 2Go-Green for webI don’t know about you, but I love hearing new ideas, thinking of the big picture, creating grandiose plans for my business and my life. But then …. the dreaded implementation. How do you go from ideas to results?

The Thriving Michigan program that I’m participating in this year with Carlin Smith from the Petoskey Chamber, is giving me the permission to work on my business instead of in my business. That being said, there’s still only so much that I can think of …. only so much that I can do.

My first step towards implementation is to get more people here in the office involved. The reasons are many. First, if employees are involved with creating the vision, the goals, the steps, then they’re much more engaged with the process. They take ownership of it, and move the needle forward without a lot of pull/push from management. Second, they have really good ideas. I have a lot of ideas (probably too many if you ask my co-workers), some of them are good ideas and occasionally I will even have a great idea, but imagine taking that thought power of one and multiplying it by the number of employees in your business. All of a sudden, people are having conversations, ideas are being generated, directions that I hadn’t even thought about are now being considered. There’s so much opportunity to do better, and it doesn’t have to all come from me. Whew – huge weight off my shoulders!  Third, studies have shown there is a huge problem with engagement in the American workforce.  By involving everyone that wants to participate, we are encouraging participation, excitement, engagement, all of those things you want from employees and co-workers.  As Gallup says “employee engagement is strongly connected to business outcomes essential to an organization’s financial success, such as productivity, profitability and customer engagement.”  Who wouldn’t want that?

We started our process with brainstorming sessions. The most direct impact we can have as a business is looking at all of our stakeholders individually and figuring out if we’re doing the best we can….. Are there areas to improve? Are there things we’re doing that we shouldn’t be doing? Are there things we should be doing? Over the course of the year, and probably continuing into next year, we will tackle each of the 6 stakeholders according to Conscious Capitalism (Clients, Employees, Owners, Suppliers, Community, Environment). The brainstorming sessions are optional, not required. The agency is picking up lunch for those participating. We have a white board, we have a topic, we create plans. We started with the environment since the book I read for the first quarter of Thriving Michigan lends towards this topic. (Confessions of a Radical Industrialist)

For our first meeting, we ordered Which Wich (online group order – fantastic process!). We took over the reception area because almost every employee wanted to participate and we didn’t have enough room anywhere else! We broke down the environment discussion into several parts.

  • Energy usage
  •  Paper
    • Incoming
    •  Outgoing
  •  Reduce/Reuse/Recycle
  • “Green” insurance endorsements

Each business will have their own environmental impact to review. As an insurance agency, our biggest impact is in energy usage and paper production….. a lot of paper production. Have you seen how many pages are generated with an application? Or worse a commercial policy renewal? We’re talking hundreds of pages at times.

We started writing down things to consider – aspects of the building that could be improved, paperless options for us and our clients.

We also decided to look at the office “environment” also. Do we have a welcoming environment? Are we treating each other right as co-workers and friends? Does anyone dread coming to work in the morning (big red flag that things need to change)? What do we really like about the office? What could be improved?

Next up – the results of our environmental impact brainstorming sessions and our 2016/17 goals.



*** as always, a huge thank you to the businesses supporting the Thriving Petoskey program ***