Kenosha County is the southeastern most county in Wisconsin with a history of a strong commitment to advancing county-wide sustainability goals. Cool Choices was a natural fit and the results are impressive.
With the support of County Executive Jim Kreuser, Kenosha County staff recently wrapped up their 6-week implementation of the Cool Choices online sustainability game; they made significant and inspiring impacts during their program. Teams of 8 earned points and won prizes for reporting their daily sustainable actions, including recycling, carpooling, saving fuel, choosing meatless meals, and conserving water.
The game also prompted some employees to start a worm compost project! How cool is that?!
“Kenosha County wants to help employees save money and live more sustainably. At Cool Choices we also recognize the changes staff make at the municipal level have the potential to impact all of southeast Wisconsin. Cool Choices is excited about this partnership with Kenosha County because of the positive change it has inspired in employees and residents of the region,” noted Raj Shukla, Director of Programs at Cool Choices.
Once again, the Cool Choices team sends our congrats to Kenosha County employees!
“I did not want to let my team down.”
– Cool Choices player
Teams are a cornerstone of the Cool Choices online sustainability game and engagement platform: you must be on a team to play.
We rely on teams because behavior change is hard and research shows it’s less hard when you have social support.
“The data is clear: when individuals are accountable to a team or get encouragement from others, it has a big impact on their well-being — the more support they have, the greater chance they’ll achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.” Social Support: Impact on Health and the Bottom Line, Dean Witherspoon
In a game of Cool Choices a team’s standing depends on the activity of all team members—which means players are accountable to each other. It’s not unusual for teammates to develop nudge strategies—ways to remind each other to play.
Think about that for a moment: employees spontaneously reminding each other to adopt sustainable practices.
Jim, I saw you turn off the light – claim your Cool Choice so that we stay in the lead!
Hey Ann, I saw you claimed points today for carpooling—nice job! Did you remind Alana to play?
Most Cool Choices players talk about sustainability with colleagues at least once a week during the game. Those are conversations where folks are sharing their values as well as pragmatic strategies for saving energy and resources.
One of the big challenges with inspiring action around climate change is that individuals often feel powerless in comparison to the scale of the issue. Seeing friends and colleagues take action—and being part of a team that is taking action—is empowering. Our players are part of a team and that team is part of a larger community where hundreds or thousands of individuals are taking action.
With support, regular people can reduce their emissions; they can improve the quality of their lives while reducing the waste. Teams are a critical part of that strategy.
How can you apply the benefits of team dynamics to boost engagement in your workplace or community?
Cool Choices staff are long-time presenters and participants at the Behavior, Energy and Climate Change (BECC) conference. This event brings together an eclectic group of researchers, practitioners and advocates focused on environmentally sustainable behaviors. We were excited to represent our approach to game-based behavior change at the conference this year.
The 2015 BECC conference provided some terrific insights. For example, a recurring theme at BECC is the power of local. This year several presenters shared research showing that people are more responsive to messages with a local slant—it turns out that a locally-recognizable skyline in a Facebook post will increase clicks.
At Cool Choices we’re acutely aware that local is relevant and that it motivates—it’s why we implement our game and engagement platform within specific communities (within a business, across a city, or as part of an energy efficiency program). The Cool Choices game builds upon on our players’ sense of community, showing them that others in their community are adopting sustainable practices and that, cumulatively, those practices add up to significant impacts. So, just how do we “show” local actions and values in terms of sustainability within an online game environment?
Changing behaviors is hard, so for practitioners like us, the annual BECC conference is also an opportunity to trade strategies—to share what’s working, to commiserate about the challenges, and to remember that we’re not alone in this quest. Being part of a community of people who are promoting sustainable practices is powerful. Just as the Cool Choices sustainability game shows that people’s small actions add up, BECC reminds us that our efforts are part of a growing international movement to address climate change. Being part of a community feels good.
In addition to attending conference sessions; Cool Choices led a post-conference workshop on using games as a behavior change strategy, “Want Change? Make it a Game!”, shared our efforts to grow our game into a movement in a conference session, and a presented a poster on how games allow colleagues to coach one another on sustainability.