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Sustainability program

Sustainability Programs and Workforce Engagement

Hermione Taylor | 22 September 16
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Until recently climate scepticism was the main challenge facing the environmental movement.

Thankfully, nowadays there is little dispute over the need to change. The obstacle we face now is knowing how to change. The complex, global, and serious nature of the problem leaves many people paralysed, unsure where to begin.

sustainability programs

Employee Engagement

Together our individual actions really do add up to make a big difference; experiencing this first hand can be hugely empowering.

These facts offer a fantastic opportunity to employers.

The workplace is the biggest, tightest community we belong to – supported by a clear structure and regular communications channels.

It offers the key ingredients needed for us to really experience the power of collective action. By capitalising on this we can support our employees to create change together through personal actions.

Your business can benefit three-fold. You can tap into significant environmental impacts, improve employee health and wellbeing, and improve how your people feel about their workplace.

Leading From the Front

Using the organisational power of your company to catalyse powerful group actions

This demonstrates commitment to your corporate values in
a tangible, everyday way and raises the profile of CSR as an important, real and working element of the company’s culture.

By making sustainability personal, people relate to it. Conversations start, attitudes change, and sustainability begins to influence employee decision making. The ripples started by this process can soon turn into waves.

Case Study

Innocent in Action

sustainability program

Employee Engagement

In the build up to the COP21 climate talks, innocent Drinks used Do Nation to ask their staff to make personal carbon-saving pledges.

Encouraging their European offices to see which could make the most pledges, almost two-thirds of their employees took part, committing to try things like boiling less water in their kettle, eating less meat, and taking the stairs, for two months.

Do Nation’s campaign achieved truly worthwhile carbon savings. It also widely increased employees’ awareness and ownership of their own company’s sustainability strategy and, critically, of the company’s Sustainability Team: the wider employee base suddenly knew who they all were, what they did, and why it mattered.

Read the full case study

Improved Wellbeing

Pro-environmental behaviours also tend to benefit health and wellbeing

Taking the stairs instead of the lift is a classic example of a simple way we can fit exercise into our everyday lives whilst saving energy; likewise cycling to work instead of driving.

Out of 10,000 people recording pledges through Do Nation 69% reported improved well-being, and 5,000 reported it improved health and fitness.

 

The business case is obvious in terms of reduced absenteeism, yet simply in terms of quality of life – who wouldn’t want a happier, healthier workplace?

Better Bottom Line

Behavioural change programmes = good business

Typically, behavioural change programmes can cut 10 percent off a business’s energy bills, whilst also reducing costs associated with environmental taxes.

Perhaps the biggest business benefit is less tangible, this being in employee attraction, motivation, and retention.

About eight out of ten millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work and a further 7/10 wanted actively to help their company meet its CSR commitments.

employee engagement sustainability

Employee Engagement

Top tips for starting a sustainability program

So you’re convinced and you want to start a sustainability program that will engage your colleagues. Here are our top tips for what to consider when starting out.

Keep it Simple

Give your employees ideas of simple, everyday actions they can take right now. Things like adjusting their laptop’s power settings, unsubscribing from junk mail, or boiling less water in the kettle. Support each with clear, practical advice.

And don’t use the ‘s’ word – ‘sustainability’ is jargon, useful for professionals but unhelpful when it comes to applying it to your everyday habits.

Focus vs Choice

Strike a balance between having a clear focus and being too prescriptive. It’s important that you give your employees choice, but don’t overwhelm them with too many options, which promotes indecision.

Do Nation encourages clients to select five high-priority Do Actions particularly relevant to their organisation, then 10-20 others to provide choice.

Team Competition

Team competition is always a winner. It allows delegation
of responsibility to team leaders, who are then personally motivated to engage their colleagues, thus reaching spheres of influence further than you yourself could manage.

Follow up

Dull perhaps yet vital, post-event follow-up helps you understand the impact and reinforces the commitments in employee’s minds, helping to ensure there is lasting impact.

Platforms such as Do Nation will take care of follow-up for you; in fact, it’s one of the things they’ve put most love, sweat and tears into.
<h3>Collective Impact – Beyond Your Walls

Finally, show your employees – individually and collectively – what their actions mean. Measure and demonstrate the impact clearly, focusing on the part they played in their organisation’s achievements and then, say, at an industry- wide or regional level.

Demonstrate achievements in terms of carbon, water, or waste savings – but remember that plain numbers don’t
tell a good story. Do Nation recently developed a carbon visualiser to help bring data to life, making it more engaging and meaningful to your people.

Download the Employee Engagement White Paper

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Hermione is founder of Do Nation, an online pledge platform aiming to make sustainable living mainstream. Do Nation began when Hermione cycled to Morocco, asking friends to support her with their own small challenges – from cycling to work to wasting less food. Since then Do Nation has evolved to be used by companies, universities, and marathon runners alike – all using it to engage people around them in sustainable behaviour changes. Their clients include Siemens, Arup, and innocent drinks. Hermione is on the board of FastForward 2030 and has been an advisor on behaviour change and social value for Coca Cola Enterprises and 2degrees.

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