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Using ‘Gainsharing’ to Achieve Sustainability Goals

April 2, 2014

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When it comes to meeting corporate sustainability objectives, wouldn’t it be nice to get everyone in your company fully committed to achieving these targets? Experience has shown that sustainability programs work best when drivers view themselves as stakeholders in the program. Empowering employees is the best way to achieve sustainability goals. Drivers must see the benefit of achieving these goals to themselves and the company. But, how can you change the drivers’ mindset so they view themselves as stakeholders? A proven way is to use “gainsharing.”

Motivating Employees

Gainsharing is a management system used to motivate employees to improve their performance through their direct involvement and participation in an initiative. This isn’t a new concept. Gainsharing is currently used in more than a quarter of Fortune 1,000 companies, as well as many small to mid-size businesses. Gainsharing has been used in a variety of industries, such as manufacturing, health care, distribution, and service, as well as non-profit organizations.

Gainsharing is not a new concept, either. The first use of gainsharing occurred in the 1930s when Joe Scanlon, a labor leader and MIT lecturer, proposed that the employee closest to the problem often has the best and simplest solution. Also, if employees are involved in the solution, they are vested to make it work.

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The same is true for fleet drivers. The overwhelming majority of drivers want to do the right thing, but most do not see sustainability as part of their job responsibilities. In fact, the No.1 reason corporate sustainability programs are not “sustainable” is due to driver noncompliance. A successful sustainability initiative requires developing programs that motivate employees to comply. This is the core principle of gainsharing. The best way to motivate employees to embrace sustainability initiatives is to link it to the company’s bottom line or to the drivers’ personal benefits.

Traditionally, gainsharing often includes financial incentives to motivate employees. However, in today’s cost-constrained business environment, offering financial incentives is not a realistic option. What has proven to be successful in motivating employees is individual recognition. Repeatedly, respondents to employee surveys rate “individual recognition” as a key factor that motivates them to want to excel or achieve corporate objectives.

A company cannot meet its sustainability targets without driver compliance. Most company drivers average 20,000 miles per year, and driver behavior is a major influence in fuel consumption. To be a truly green fleet, you need to change your drivers’ mindset to make them “greener” drivers. This must be a top priority. The way employees drive their vehicles can either increase or decrease fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions. If you change driving behavior, you have a direct impact on the amount of fuel consumed and the amount of emissions produced. Even small increases in mpg can result in substantial savings when extrapolated across the entire fleet. Fleet managers, who have implemented driving modification programs, report a 5- to 30-percent reduction in annual fuel consumption simply by changing driver behavior.

Turning Drivers into Stakeholders

When developing or reevaluating a fleet sustainability policy, it is important to solicit the participation of all affected departments, such as sales, administration, purchasing, HR, and all vehicle user groups. By involving them in the decision-making process, you increase the likelihood of their buy-in and support of sustainability policies. For instance, “green teams” are an emerging HR best practice that empowers employees to implement their own action plan to achieve sustainable behavior change. Why not do the same with your driver population? Solicit drivers to form a Green Driver Team(s) for their input and recommendations on how to achieve sustainability goals and, perhaps, even encourage competition as to who can achieve the greatest fuel reductions.

Next, you need to develop the metrics to track your processes to continually improve your fleet’s sustainability performance. Metrics are also very effective in modifying driver behavior. These metrics should be shared with internal customers to show how they are contributing to improving fleet efficiency. A gainsharing plan compares current performance against historic performance by establishing a baseline period. The performance above the baseline period determine the gain and should be used as an opportunity to recognize individuals or groups who have excelled in meeting these objectives.

There is no “right” way to implement a successful sustainability program. Companies have adopted a variety of strategies to achieve these initiatives, such as anti-idling policies, switching to smaller displacement engines, buying alt-fuel and hybrid vehicles, and downsizing to smaller vehicle segments. The bottom line is that increased fuel efficiency equates to less fuel burned, which equates to fewer emissions. The takeaway is that you should never stop seeking ways to reduce your carbon footprint and the best way to do so is with end-user collaboration. If you’re serious about achieving sustainability objectives, you need make driver compliance a primary focus and gainsharing is one way to achieve it.

Let me know what you think.

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Author Bio

Mike Antich

Editor and Associate Publisher

Mike has covered fleet management and remarketing for more than 20 years and entered the Fleet Hall of Fame in 2010.

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