Playing the Field: Green Jobs
OUTLOOK: The momentum lost in the financial crisis should begin to slowly return, thanks in large part to Obama-administration policies. The president has pledged that 75 percent of federal buildings will be renovated with green technologies in the coming years, while the stimulus bill will direct some $80 billion into green-energy programs and support solar and wind developers with tax credits and new cash grants. In the wider economy, green jobs are infiltrating all types of businesses. "You'll increasingly find people with green-minded positions in finance, human resources, marketing, manufacturing, sales, and on and on," says Joel Makower, author of Strategies for the Green Economy.
BREAKING IN: "If you're job-hunting right now, things are difficult; but if you're career-building, things are excellent," says Kevin Doyle, principal of Green Economy, a Boston-based consulting-and-research firm. One no-risk strategy: Innovate at your current job. If you can, say, create a more efficient distribution plan for products, you'll build a portfolio of real-world work. See sustainablebusiness.com/jobs, environmentalcareer.info, and jobs.greenbiz.com.
CLEAN & GREEN: It's demanding but meaningful work: meticulously erasing the environmental damage done at former uranium-enrichment sites through decontamination, demolition, and recycling. Perks include a $24 monthly health-club stipend, $3,500 in annual tuition reimbursement, travel vouchers, and some project-completion bonuses.
ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: FROM THE COMPANY
RSI was formed by us more than 11 years ago as a very small woman-owned company that plans and executes highly complicated regulatory and field projects at radioactive-contaminated federal cleanup sites. Our goal was to offset the highly stressful positions engaged in the performance of this work by incorporating the owners' positive life strategies. Using this model, we've grown to 100 employees working on five of the nation's largest and most complicated environmental projects.
We believe in the power of positive energy. At RSI our employees are encouraged to work hard, play hard, and enjoy life. This philosophy has manifested itself at the K-25 project in Oak Ridge. Decontamination and demolition of the former uranium enrichment site was named as one of the worst jobs in the United States; however, RSI employees were noted by the customer as "being happy" in the work environment. We firmly believe that our employees' mental and physical sense of well-being is a key to our success.
Employee health and safety is our number-one goal. RSI employees are encouraged to follow an overall wellness program that incorporates personal lifestyle choices into workplace safety. We are involved in Tennessee on the Move, a program that holds various seminars on health and nutrition as work-life issues. Specifically, we've instituted a program for regular attendance at a regional fitness center. If an employee attends a fitness center eight times per month, the membership charges are fully reimbursed. In addition, we emphasize personal and workplace safety topics at a monthly safety meeting for all employees, focused on continued safety awareness as a proactive culture.
The optimistic energy of our employees prompted the formation of the employee-led Outreach Committee, which offers a "hand up, not a handout," to those in need. Funds are raised through selling of snacks and drinks throughout the year and at special eventssilent auctions, lunchtime meals, after-hours activities. These funds go to such projects as Angel Tree, co-workers who need help, and other community projects. Our propensity to "give back" is becoming a reality in the startup of RSI University, a program that encourages hiring and cross-training of economically displaced workers.
FAMILY FRIENDLY WORKPLACE
RSI ownership and management are all working parents who deal with the anxieties of daily life. We believe that minimizing those concerns is a driver in maintaining a positive workplace environment and promoting a sense of well-being. We offer management-approved flexible work schedules to cover personal appointments, such as doctor visits and child-related needs. We also have many family-friendly practices that encourage our employees to spend quality time together; for example, our outreach committee holds a family game night, which is geared not only to employees but to their children as well.