The Blog

power down: unplucked! the inside ‘coop on employee engagement


Our program managers, ready to ruffle some feathers around the office.

Employees are an often untapped audience who, with the right engagement, can become a powerful force to spread brand messages and create positive change. Within our own four walls we recently experienced the impact of a simple, clever engagement to shift our habits around energy usage.

Grow is a participant in Step Up and Power Down, a partnership between PG&E and the cities of San Francisco and San Jose leveraging behavior science to help businesses reduce energy waste. For four weeks, our office was invaded by a duo of giant rubber chickens as part of the Power Down: Unplucked! campaign to encourage coworkers to unPLUCK their devices when away from their workstations and at the end of the day. Team members who forgot to unplug would return from lunch to find a squeaky rubber chicken on their desk, placed by a coworker as a helpful, playful reminder. To test out the behavior change campaign firsthand, Grow dove headfirst (beakfirst?) and here’s what we learned.

Step outside your comfort zone.

At first blush, encouraging employees to divide into teams and plant rubber chickens on a coworker’s desk to remind them to power down their devices seems like something out of a late-night comedy sketch. But in reality, the fun, quirky program gave employees a break from their routines and spiraled into an all-office activity, with cries of “Oh no, I got chicken-ed!” comically breaking up the workday. Everyone was keenly aware that it was also in service of the larger goal of reducing energy waste in our city, which kept the momentum – fun with a purpose.


Our winning team who won a fried chicken lunch!

Let’s get personal.

Based on employee engagement research, team members want to be invested in their company and interact with their coworkers. Power Down: Unplucked! offered just the right amount of playful competition to engage employees, keep teams motivated and build brand advocacy from the inside out. Each team found their own ways to engage in the competition, from the hawks who kept an eye out for a plugged-in idle laptop to the conservationists who snapped off their power strips every single time before heading out to lunch. Engaging employees at every level helped them feel connected to the greater whole, resulting in enthusiastic evangelists, ready to share their experiences with their networks.

Keep the momentum going.

Although we officially completed our internal campaign a week ago, the good habits seem to be sticking! From employees remembering to turn off their power strips to pod leaders affixing “power down!” reminder post-its throughout the workspace, so far, Power Down: Unplucked! has had a continued impact on our team’s behavior while also fostering connections between teams. We’re so excited to see how small businesses across the Bay Area engage with the Step Up and Power Down campaign to save energy and boost company morale at the same time.

P.S. Although our original two chickens are being donated to an animal shelter, Doug the Frenchie had his very own chance to help out with the campaign before it wrapped. Check out our epic video here (and turn up the volume!) to see what we mean.