Published on June 21st, 2014 | by Jake Richardson4
Paying Employees To Try Solar?
June 21st, 2014 by Jake Richardson
Cox Enterprises is a broadcasting, publishing, and cable company that is running an employee program in conjunction with SolarCity that is a little unusual. It is paying eligible employees who want to try solar power $500. This effort might not sound so consequential, but Cox has about 50,000 employees and the ones living in areas where SolarCity operates will receive an additional $500.
“We know that money talks. So we decided to pay people to try solar,” explained Cox Chairman Jim Kennedy in a Fortune article.
He also mentioned that he talked with a current Cox employee about his home solar system, one that has allowed his annual energy costs to be trimmed down to $700. The system, he said, should pay for itself in about eight years, not an abnormal timeframe at all and maybe even longer than average for his area. About 100 Cox employees located in southern California have participated in the program so far. SolarCity does operate in California, so those southern California employees would be eligible for the $1,000 payout. Jim Kennedy hopes there will 1,000 employees in the program in a year.
A communications director for SolarCity said that a recent survey of American homeowners showed a majority of them are interested in home solar systems. (Cox is trying to help some of its employees get these systems because desire is not the same thing as action.)
Cox’s incentive to help employees is good business, because it is a purpose-based program. In other words, it is an action that supports employees and is good for society. Research has shown that purposeful companies can retain employees better and attract a higher quality of applicants. Consider what the CEO of Gallup has said about purpose in the workplace: “What is a winning culture? A winning culture is one of engagement and individual contribution to an important mission and purpose. Human beings are not looking for company-bought goodies — they are looking for meaningful, fulfilling work.” When a company cares about something greater than its own profits, and involves employees, this is generally what a meaningful intention is.
So Cox’s employee solar program is a smart thing to do to engage employees as well as reduce reliance on fossil fuels. It also shows a willingness to partner with other companies to create win-win situations, rather than having a bunker mentality and an insular organizational culture. On the surface, its solar program might look a little peculiar, but it actually makes a lot of sense.