You’ve got your sustainability plans in place and are geared up to cut costs and reduce carbon emissions. But don’t forget to get your staff engaged with the process. Catherine Rubbens shares our six-step plan for effectively engaging employees with sustainability
Lead by example
It’s vital that your CEO and senior management demonstrate their commitment to change and are actively involved in engaging employees with sustainability.
Make this commitment as visible as possible – you could even share a Youtube video of them taking action!
Don’t implement a load of new changes without letting people know first. A simple email, a few signs or a quick update at a team meeting will go a long way – especially if you explain why it’s happening.
Share information about the benefits (eg reduced costs, healthier, happier lives or protecting wildlife) in engaging ways and invite questions.
Help your employees feel ownership of new initiatives – ask for ideas and feedback. You may well end up with lots of new ways to meet your environmental goals.
Those who are interested in getting involved further could set up a group to continue to look at new ideas and monitor impact. Several organisations we work with have a ‘green team’ that champions change.
Make it easy
You can achieve so many ‘quick wins’ by making sustainable options the status quo.
Buy Fairtrade tea, coffee and sugar, set your printer to double-sided, use recycled paper, swap to local suppliers and up the veggie options at events and in the canteen.
Say thank you
Change can be hard. Let your colleagues know you appreciate their efforts with a small present. A re-usable water bottle, coffee cup or canvas bag could also help boost your sustainability efforts.
As time goes on, you may find that you can identify ‘champions’ – people who are leading the change and always going one step further. Capture their stories to inspire others and consider ways to recognise them. For example, at Bioregional we have a monthly ‘Brilliance award.’
The reality is that we all need to work much harder to move towards One Planet Living. Once the quick wins have been achieved, you have the opportunity to start making cutting-edge changes to your organisation and lead the way for others.
Keep an eye out for Part two of this blog, which will share 11 activities that you can host at your workplace to support employee engagement with sustainability.
Corporate Sustainability Manager