Tag: employee engagement


Using Team Dynamics to Boost Engagement

“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.Greenadelphia Team 500x220 jpg

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?

Curious about how Cool Choices can help your organization? Contact us for more information.

8th Annual WI Sustainable Business Council Conference

WSBCforCCBlog2015Cool Choices recently co-hosted the Eighth Annual Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council (WSBC) Conference at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. WSBC’s conference features businesses talking frankly about their efforts on the path to sustainability. The tales are insightful and inspiring—I always leave the event feeling a bit more optimistic about our ability to address the enormous climate challenges ahead of us.

Our event host, UW-Oshkosh, for example: the Sierra Club ranked UW-Oshkosh the third greenest university in the nation. It was terrific to hear how local officials had accomplished this, engaging the whole campus around sustainable practices, despite a tight budget. Their story was echoed in a variety of other presentations where business leaders talked about saving energy, reducing waste, measuring impacts and mobilizing employees.


Locally made coffee mugs at #WSBCC! Much more sustainable than disposable plastic cups!

And it is not just about the presentations. I also talked to a variety of attendees who were working on innovative projects to green facilities, operations and even supply chains.

The community also highlights the benefits of businesses leading on climate change mitigation. As policy leaders negotiated toward an agreement in Paris, business leaders in Wisconsin talked about their real-world efforts to reduce carbon emissions while increasing profits.

Part of the bliss of coming together each year as a community of business leaders working on sustainability is that it feels good to tell your story to someone who faces similar challenges. The congratulatory pats mean more when they come from someone who knows firsthand how hard it is to shift an organization’s orientation. WSBC has built a community of practitioners and the community is strong, supportive and inspiring.




Posted by Kathy Kuntz, Executive Director at Cool Choices


More about the WSBC Conference

One of the most compelling aspects of this event is the networking. As usual, I was able to build new relationships. I heard about some difficult challenges and about a few outstanding victories. I helped a few people make connections that will make their quests easier and I heard a story or two I will share in the coming months to inspire others. I encourage you to experience this conference in 2016 to reap the benefits of networking with other business leaders engaged in sustainability efforts.

The WSBC Conference is Designed for:

  • C Suite Officers, Board Members, Senior Managers
  • Small Business Owners, Plant Managers, Sustainability Coordinators
  • Green Teams
  • Students Interested in Sustainability

Game-Based Behavior Change at BECC 2015

Game cards that show actions to create game-based behavior change.

The Cool Choices online sustainability game draws from a variety of social sciences to inspire and create behavior change, cut costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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?

Image of game-based behavior change in action as players have fun being sustainable.

  • Social stream: An active social stream within the game platform lets players post photos of their sustainable actions, share sustainability tips or projects, and leave comments on and “cool” the posts of others in their community.
  • Teams and Leaderboard: Cool Choices is a team game. Players often tell us they play, and keep playing, because they don’t want to let their team down. Players can check their team or individual standings within their community on the leaderboard.
  • Cumulative Data: Players can see the estimated cost savings generated from their community’s efforts. This number builds with each day of game play. At the end of a game each client also receives an impact report.

Learn more about how Cool Choices makes sustainability visible.

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.

Curious about how Cool Choices can help your organization save money and get sustainable? Contact us and we’ll get back to you with more information.



City of Madison Enlists Cool Choices to Reduce Energy Use

Did you know entire communities are playing Cool Choices to mobilize around sustainability initiatives?

ElEquipoMasVerde-GUEPRecently, Green Madi­son launched a city-wide game of Cool Choices in Madison, Wisconsin. Residents and employ­ees from more than 40 Madi­son busi­nesses and orga­ni­za­tions such as UW Health, Amer­i­can Fam­ily Insur­ance, MG&E, TDS Tele­com, and the Greater Madi­son Cham­ber of Com­merce are tak­ing part. The Cool Choices game cal­cu­lates car­bon and energy sav­ings as play­ers log their sus­tain­able actions on a daily basis.

Everyone’s efforts in the city-wide Cool Choices game count toward Madison’s entry in the George­town Uni­ver­sity Energy competition.

game-cardsMadi­son has a secret weapon in the nation-wide Energy Prize: A game-based-impact approach that inspires and unites every Madis­on­ian around sus­tain­abil­ity! Cool Choices has demon­strated results, and will let res­i­dents and employ­ees from busi­nesses large and small com­mu­ni­cate with each other on how to improve our city,” said Dan White, CEO at Fil­a­ment Games.

The “social stream” within the game plat­form pro­motes aware­ness of addi­tional Green Madi­son ini­tia­tives designed to help Madi­son res­i­dents save money.

Employ­ees at Reynolds Trans­fer & Stor­age are tak­ing part in the city-wide game of Cool Choices because we see this as an easy and fun way to be more green and to help Madi­son reduce our energy use as we com­pete for the George­town Uni­ver­sity Energy Prize” said Ben­jamin Reynolds, Direc­tor of Oper­a­tions at Reynolds Trans­fer & Stor­age. “We hope even more busi­nesses and Madi­son residents will join in and take part.”


Eco-Service of the Year Winner!

Cool Choices Wins In Business Eco-Service of the Year Award

Madison, WI – October 23, 2013 – In Business Magazine has awarded Cool Choices its 2013 Eco-Service Business Sustainability Award. The award recognizes a new service that helps solve an environmental problem, demonstrates a superior environmentally conscious design and/or helps an individual better manage his or her environmental footprint. Cool Choices promotes individual and corporate-level environmentally sustainable practices through an employee engagement game, partnering with businesses and public entities to implement the game.

“We are delighted to receive the In Business Eco-Service of the Year Award for our innovative efforts,” said Kathy Kuntz, Executive Director of Cool Choices. “Our partners seek to reduce waste and increase efficiency through sustainable practices, and Cool Choices helps them inspire and engage their employees, so that smart and sustainable practices are the ‘new normal’ in their organizations.”

Since 2010 Cool Choices has inspired employees to embrace sustainability through an innovative game model. Wisconsin businesses in sectors as diverse as commercial construction, health care, manufacturing, local government and law, have game participants that collectively have saved over $400,000 and avoided 4.7 million pounds of CO2 annually because of sustainable choices made in Cool Choices games.


Cool Choices
Established in 2009, Cool Choices inspires and assists individuals, communities and businesses to take actions reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. A Madison-based nonprofit, Cool Choices seeks to make sustainable choices the norm by making them fun, social and easy. For more information visit www.coolchoices.com


It’s Not Me, It’s You | Making Sustainability Visible

There has been some hand wringing in recent days regarding findings from the National Geographic’s annual Greendex survey. Commentators read the survey and bemoan that Americans are not only more wasteful than their peers around the world, but we also don’t feel guilty about that waste.

Reading the survey results I see a slightly different explanation.

Greendex is a measure of consumer attitudes and opinions, as well as practices. Across four categories of consumer behavior (housing, transportation, food and consumption of goods), Americans ranked dead last, meaning our behaviors have greater environmental impacts than the parallel behaviors of our peers in any of the other 17 countries surveyed.

That ranking is no surprise. Our suburban, car-oriented culture is resource intensive and the US has ranked last each year since the survey began in 2008.

What seems discouraging is that just 21% of US respondents feel guilty about their environmental footprint, compared to higher percentages in other countries like India and China where people have lower footprints. The spin has been that we’re wasteful and that we don’t care.

Looking at some of the other findings here—consistent with other recent surveys—I think there is another story.  In the Greendex survey 52% of Americans described themselves as green. So more than half of us think we are doing our part. At the same time these same US respondents said only 35% of all Americans are green.

That means that if there’s a problem in the US, it’s not me it’s you.

This is consistent with the recent AP-NORC survey on energy use and attitudes where only 9% of respondents thought their usage was higher than others in their community—9%. The rest split pretty evenly between reporting they were average or that their usage was below average.

The problem is that we are confident that we are not the problem.

Cool Choices sees this phenomenon in our work inside corporate communities. When we do baseline surveys the majority of employees report that they are doing their part to be sustainable.  When asked what portion of their coworkers share this commitment the numbers drop. Indeed, the Greendex numbers look pretty consistent with what we have seen.

And this is a problem. Actually it is multiple problems.

  • First, the perception that I’m the only one trying gives me license to try less hard going forward.  This is the ‘I’ve already done my part’ phenomena that George Marshall and others cite.
  • More importantly, though, the sense that I’m in the minority has huge implications for social norms. If I think most of my colleagues do not care about sustainability then I’m less likely to speak up when I see opportunities.
  • And, of course, I will feel less guilty about my overall impact—because it is not as big as the impacts of others around me.

Making sustainability efforts more visible—giving people proof that those around them are also trying to do the right thing—achieves multiple objectives.  It busts open the myth that I’m the only one who cares and it puts my current efforts (which might not be as green as I want to think) in context with the actions of my peers, ideally spurring me to do more.

Cool Choices achieves visibility through game systems that are transparent—so that players can see what actions other players have claimed. How can you enhance the visibility of sustainable actions in your work?