Driving sustainability in operations through employees.DOWNLOAD
Having publicly committed to becoming a sustainability leader, the world’s largest postal organization is turning to its own employees to help drive sustainability in its operations.
This organization is under constant pressure to make ends meet. The advent of electronic communications has decreased the volume of mail it handles, with a corresponding decline in revenue. At the same time, its cost structure continually increases due to the addition of about a million delivery points to its routes every year.
Against this backdrop, leaders viewed the organization’s overall push toward sustainability as a welcome opportunity to reduce operating costs by encouraging employees to participate in low- to no-cost projects to reduce waste, energy consumption, and water use at the organization’s facilities. Leaders believed that such a greening program would not only help reduce costs but also improve employee morale, strengthen the organization’s brand, and help the organization live up to its avowed commitment to becoming a leader in sustainability.
The organization faced several challenges in establishing the greening program, however. Chief among them was the fact that its facilities ranged in size and purpose from small retail outlets to vehicle maintenance depots to massive sorting and distribution centers. Any greening program would need to take the differences among facilities into account when recommending actions to employees – for example, some actions, such as conducting paperless meetings, would be more relevant to the organization’s administrative offices than to its vehicle maintenance facilities. Another challenge was how to rally and maintain enthusiasm and involvement among a broad base of employees during a time when budgets were increasingly tight and workloads seemed to be increasing.
Drawing on guidance from Deloitte, leaders decided to make the program an all-volunteer effort: Regions, districts within the regions, and facilities within the districts could either opt into the program or decide to remain outside it, as could employees at each facility. A steering committee was established and a governance structure created that prescribed how the program should be launched and supported across the organization. Based on cost-saving projections, leaders decided on the program’s financial goals and set a timeline for implementation.
The organization then worked with Deloitte professionals to develop a guidebook of low-cost or no-cost greening projects that employees could engage in for each type of facility that the organization operated. These projects targeted energy and water use as well as waste production, and included activities such as repairing seals on exterior doors and adjusting thermostat and hot water temperature settings. At facilities in participating regions and districts, employees would be able to volunteer to form teams to execute specific greening projects. The choice of which projects to undertake would be left up to the teams, depending on the relevance of each project to that particular facility. These teams could draw upon the guidebook’s simple and straightforward guidance on how to easily implement each project.
Deloitte professionals also developed recommendations on how leaders could foster employee enthusiasm and participation in the project. One recommendation, for instance, was to take advantage of the organization’s competitive culture to drive participation by broadly communicating each region, district, and facility’s level of program participation. This was done using a two-part system of performance management that used leading indicators to measure the organization’s progress in engaging facilities and employees, and lagging indicators to measure performance against goals such as energy reduction and recycling targets. Both sets of indicators were displayed on a dashboard, and key metrics were embedded in key management reports. This helped to put a spotlight on regions, districts, and facilities that were achieving good results with the program, which helped to motivate those that were below average.
In the first six months after its initial launch, the program has been adopted by two out of the organization’s nine regions, and several other regions are preparing to also adopt the program. If participation targets are met, the organization stands to reap cost savings of $128 million in the first year alone.
As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries.