Want to engage staff in saving energy? Keep it fun

Image of Hyatt employee Natasha Carpio
A collection of adorable stuffies created smiles and savings for Hyatt Regency.

Prizes (especially cute ones) and employee recognition are key to success

Tackling energy use is a serious business, but a light-hearted approach often yields the best results. Hyatt Regency Vancouver's Thrive Team (Green Team) motivated people with a Woo Hoo! Save Energy contest, complete with stuffed animals, that resulted in 80 per cent participation, with 58 per cent more lights and 78 per cent more computer monitors being turned off.

"We take environmental responsibility seriously at our hotel," says Joe Weiss, Hyatt Regency Vancouver's director of engineering. "While it might seem like a small action, everyone remembering to turn off their lights and monitors makes a difference to our overall energy savings target."

Hyatt's team approach brought lots of ideas to the campaign

Weiss stresses the importance of getting a lot of people involved. "Having a team approach is so effective," Weiss says. "Our Thrive Team has reps from each of our departments, so we have a cross section of different types of staff [PDF, 509 KB]. This is important because what matters to one person might not matter to a different department. So we get well-rounded feedback."

"When we were thinking about a campaign, people just kept coming up with different ideas, and it built from that," adds Weiss. "Someone on the team said there should be some type of recognition or traveling trophy, and then someone else said that if we got stuffed animals from the World Wildlife Fund, the money would go to a good cause. And someone else came up with the name. It really was a team approach."

Recognizing staff for their efforts

Weiss emphasizes that the campaign was effective because it recognized people [PDF, 1.2 MB] for their energy conservation actions.

"Everybody wants to be recognized," he says. "Even if it's just a small thing like a stuffed animal. And as silly as it may sound, the stuffed animals were what motivated people. There was also the double benefit that when we purchased the stuffed animals, the money went to the World Wildlife Fund, so people liked that we were not only saving energy but also giving back to a great organization."

How did it work? Staff members were asked to turn off their lights and/or monitors when away from their office, and successful participants were awarded with the temporary loan of a stuffed animal "adopted" from the World Wildlife Foundation. The stuffie was then re-gifted to another keen energy saver, and all participants were entered into a draw to win a dinner at a local restaurant known for sustainable food.

The campaign was a huge hit. In fact, people liked the stuffed animals so much they didn't want to give them up. "People were really excited to win," says Weiss. "They actually didn't want to pass off the stuffies, so we changed the campaign so that you could only be put into the draw after you re-gifted the stuffie."

"We also raffled off the stuffies at the end," adds Weiss. "People loved that, and it also helped them remember the campaign even after it was over."