The bad economic news just keeps coming.  Companies are cutting their workforce and their expenses. So your small, green company should, too, right? Not so fast my friend.

Try this: empower your employees. Give them even more reign over your company. Task them with righting the ship. Elevate them, during this time of crisis, to the level of partner. Ask them to think like an owner. Odds are, they have some ideas of how to save money. And odds are really good that it would not be layoffs.empoweremployees

Employees might band together and take temporary paycuts, consider equity in exchange for work in the short term, or restructure their pay platform so that more money comes in bonuses if the company does well, and less is guaranteed hourly rates.

They may also save you in other ways. They’re likely to know how you can save on energy, water, and other resources. They’re likely to know your customers better than you do, and have a few ideas for you. Create an open forum, such as a CEO blog, or town hall meetings, and you might be surprised what you’ll learn when you open up the floor.

If this is such a great idea, why don’t companies do this all the time? The key here is that in this economy, people feel like they’re more part of a team. It’s a “We’re all in this together” mentality. The saying goes, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” This openness and willingness among your employees is perhaps never going to be more present than right now, so take full advantage. Other unforeseen benefits may also arise, like finding new leaders, or one of your employees showing interest in partnership.




Photo credit:  Running with Scissors on Flickr Creative Commons

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About The Author

Scott Cooney

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on

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