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Making Sustainability Work: 10 Ways to Turn Users Into Stakeholders

January 3, 2013, by Mike Antich - Also by this author

The No.1 reason corporate sustainability programs are not “sustainable” is due to driver non-compliance. To make sustainability programs work, you must turn drivers into stakeholders in the program. The overwhelming majority of drivers want to do the right thing, but most do not see sustainability as part of their job responsibilities. How do you create a corporate culture that encourages compliance with corporate sustainability policy? This is crucial because there is a limit to what a fleet manager can accomplish through vehicle specification.

Fleet managers have adopted a variety of strategies to achieve green fleet initiatives, such as switching to smaller displacement engines, buying alt-fuel and hybrid vehicles, and downsizing to smaller vehicle segments. But, there’s a limit to how much you can modify a fleet selector to decrease emissions and maximize fuel efficiency before beginning to impact the fleet mission.

Communication Strategy to Create Stakeholders
If up to 30 percent of a vehicle’s fuel efficiency is impacted by driver behavior, you need to make drivers partners in achieving corporate sustainability goals. How can you increase driver compliance?

Here are 10 suggestions:

1. When developing or reevaluating a fleet sustainability policy, 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. The fleet policy manual should be a living document updated annually. As changes occur within your company, revise your procedures to reflect these changes. Also, as part of your annual fleet policy review, you should survey your drivers to give them an opportunity to express their opinions and suggestions about the fleet sustainability programs that govern them.

2. Make your fleet sustainability policy easily accessible to drivers and managers by posting it on the company intranet.

3. Modify driver behavior through ongoing eco-driving training. If fuel efficiency is constrained by equipment requirements, the “last mile” to achieving corporate sustainability objectives is modifying driver behavior. To be a truly green fleet, you must change employee mindsets to make them “greener” drivers. The way employees drive company-assigned vehicles can improve (or decrease) fuel economy and decrease (or increase) emissions.

4. Include a rotating series of actions drivers can perform to become greener drivers in your e-mail signature tagline. When striving to modify driver behavior to a “greener” driving mindset, there are fundamental areas fleet managers should focus and communicate to their drivers. For instance, keeping tires properly inflated increases fuel efficiency by 3 percent. If a vehicle has a trip computer, encourage drivers to use the instant fuel-economy display to refine driving habits to become more fuel efficient.

5. Create a competitive environment to reduce fuel consumption. You might want to consider creating a competition between divisions or personal competitions, rewarding drivers with tangible awards, such as gift cards or corporate recognition.

6. Issue a sustainability summary sheet when distributing fuel cards to drivers to reinforce the need to maximize fuel economy. One example would be to avoid unnecessary idling.

7. Send periodic e-mails or voicemail reminders to drivers on specific fleet sustainability actions. One message might be a reminder to reduce driving speed to conserve fuel. For every 10 mph of speed reduced, fuel economy improves by 4 mpg.

8. Set aside time at company meetings to make sustainability presentations to drivers and managers. Also, conduct teleconferences with drivers who work at regional offices. Use these meetings to reemphasize the importance of sustainability.

9. Send an e-mail newsletter to company drivers to promote awareness of fleet sustainability by providing helpful suggestions on driving tips, route planning, and other topics. Likewise, use the company intranet for similar effect.

10. Leave a weekly or monthly message on your voicemail greeting advising employees of ways to be green drivers. Another way is to use paycheck stuffers.

Communicate, Recommunicate & Don’t Stop
To ensure fleet sustainability policy remains uppermost in the minds of drivers, you need to regularly recommunicate it to them. Use in-house meetings and teleconferences, e-mail reminders, corporate intranet, paycheck stuffers, newsletters, and award recognition programs. The goal is to keep the importance of sustainability uppermost in the minds of all drivers. With this in mind, it is important to understand the need to consistently remind drivers about your corporate sustainability policies and goals.

If you want to increase the likelihood that employees become “greener” drivers, you not only need to communicate it to them, but, more importantly, recommunicate it on a regular basis. When it comes to sustainability, there is no such thing as being redundant. In fact, the secret to increasing driver compliance with a fleet sustainability policy is just that — redundant communication.

Let me know what you think.


  1. 1. Dona Baker [ January 08, 2013 @ 01:44PM ]

    Hi Mike:

    In my opinion, this is another great article that you have written. One of the biggest impediments that I notice our fleet customers are facing are with regard to changing driver attitudes and therefore, their behaviours. There is no quick-fix to this problem and I like how you have set out 10 suggestions and emphasized that efforts at addressing driver attitudes need to be sustained over a long period of time, from the top of and across the organization.

    Thanks again for your ongoing contributions of tools and strategies for building knowledge in North American fleet managers.

    Dona Baker

  2. 2. Cliff Speare [ January 12, 2013 @ 02:09PM ]

    Good article. I would not create a competition for or post a public list of fuel usage. Make the information for each operator available to them individually, private. You don't want create a competative environment where drivers place the vehicle shifter in neutral to coast down hill or other unsafe ways to save fuel in a competition.

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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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