CAHRS Partner Company Shares Green Program Benefits

Human Resource Executive's April 2017 "Why Green's Good" highlights Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies partner company Verizon and its green programs. Back in 2013, the Basking Ridge, N.J.-based global telecommunications company kicked off its national commuter program. Since many of its offices are located in residential areas, a biking program seemed like a natural fit, says Jillian Kessler, sustainability project manager at the company's Boston office, who oversees the U.S. commuter program.

"We saw a big opportunity here," she says, adding that the program was piloted at one of its offices in Bellevue, Wash. "We [later] started installing bike racks at many of our administrative facilities and built an internal sign-up system where employees can log [the] hours and distances of their commutes."

While the company has 162,000 employees worldwide, about 1,150 at 180 locations -- mostly in the U.S. -- now participate. When employees log 500 biking miles, Kessler says, they win a free Verizon-branded jersey.

In 2014, the company expanded the program's options. As co-founder of the U.S. Department of Energy's Workplace Charging Challenge, it had committed to increasing its footprint of electric-vehicle charging stations in the country significantly over the next decade.

Its first charging station was installed at one of its offices in Little Rock, Ark. Now, there are 36 nationwide, including a solar-powered station in Silver Spring, Md. The company plans to increase that number to 50 by 2018, says Kessler. So far, 250 employees across the country participate.

Since 2014, the program has expanded and now includes Verizon Commuter Connections. The carpooling program uses Zimride software to connect Verizon drivers and passengers with similar commutes. More than 1,700 employees in 125 locations nationwide have signed up.

Up to now, Kessler says, HR has played a limited role in the program. Besides informally promoting it to different functions throughout the organization, it also introduces the program to job candidates and new hires, and invites the six-member sustainability team to showcase the program at HR fairs held throughout the country.

Likewise, the sustainability department partners with employee-communications staff across the company -- not just in HR -- to post program information on the company's intranet and produce an internal newsfeed and calendar featuring green stories, and educational and volunteer opportunities. Employees also engage in online interactive quizzes devoted to green commuting and participate in monthly "green-bag" lunches in which guest speakers promote the program.

"We're striving to get as many people involved as best we can," says Kessler. "The goal for Verizon is to enable our employees to live our mantra -- 'Work Green, Live Green.' We're trying to give them things they can do at home and in the office that make their lives greener overall."

© 2016 Cornell University | ILR School