8 ways to get your employees engaged in sustainability

8 ways to get your employees engaged in sustainability

The latest IPCC report more than ever underscores the need for companies to take significant action to reduce their carbon footprints. 

To do this, companies must pay greater attention to sustainability. However, establishing a sustainable company hinges on getting all employees on board. 

Companies must therefore find creative ways to get all employees across different levels in the company personally engaged in day-to-day corporate sustainability efforts.

Every team member must be adequately invested and engaged to make your company’s sustainability drive succeed.

In this article, we share eight ways companies can get their employees engaged in sustainability.

A quick refresher on your carbon footprint

Your carbon footprint refers to the amount of greenhouse gases you (or your organisation) have produced and released.

There are dozens of ways your company or organisation can emit these greenhouse gases. 

Every activity your organisation undertakes adds to your carbon footprint. Whether via your supply chain, the energy consumption for powering your office buildings, or an employee’s commute. 

Everything emits greenhouse gases unless your firm is powered entirely by renewables, of course. 

It is important to reduce these emissions rapidly and significantly to not only mitigate the most devastating effects of climate change but also for the immense business benefits of achieving net zero.

While more leading companies are incorporating sustainability practices into their business operations, global emissions are still rising

One major challenge is not many organisations have successfully involved their employees in these efforts. 

If organisations are serious about reducing their carbon footprints, they must engage and involve their employees in sustainable practices and actions. 

They need to ensure their employees own the sustainability efforts. That way, the employees will become more engaged and involved in reducing the firm's carbon footprint.

Getting employees engaged in sustainability at your company

Here are eight ways to get employees better involved in your company’s sustainability initiatives inspired by the former CEO of Unilever, Paul Polman in his article published by the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

1. Define the company's long-term purpose

Employees must have a clear idea of the company's long-term purpose. If that purpose is too abstract or just "making money," companies will have an uphill task engaging their employees on sustainability. 

If the company orientates its long-term purpose alongside the good of the planet, climate, and society, employees will find it easier to align their values with their organisation's. 

Doing this allows the employees to become deeply involved and invested in the company's mission. If that includes becoming as sustainable as possible, you will find that employees become incredibly valuable agents for change in this regard. 

2. Outline the economic case for sustainability

For the first time, renewable energy sources have become cheaper than fossil fuels. However, that's not the only way that sustainability is better for the bottom line. 

Enabling your employees to understand the business case for sustainability is crucial for making it happen. It is not enough that employees understand that sustainable practices are simply the right thing to do; they also must realise that these sustainable practices will help build a better company. 

Customers will be more willing to do business with the firm, investors will be more interested in supporting the business, and recruiting and retaining a talented staff will be much easier.


3. Create sustainability knowledge and competence

Almost every aspect of your organisation's operations emit greenhouse gases. This ultimately means sustainability should be everyone’s concern, and everyone can help contribute to reducing GHG emissions. 

Nevertheless, your employees may not necessarily think so if your organisation has not established enough of a sustainability knowledge base. Therefore, organisations must provide sufficient educational resources to help strengthen the team's positive attitude regarding sustainability practices. This is part of Consequence’s goal with the Climate Bible - a free resource anyone can learn from.

However, the knowledge base is only the first step. Organisations must also develop proper systems and processes to allow employees to integrate sustainability into business decisions. 

4. Make every employee a sustainability champion

An organisation is only as strong as its leadership. If you want your sustainability initiatives to be successful, the company's leadership must believe in and commit to implementing them. 

The Board, CEO and the leadership team must lead from the front and commit to building a culture of sustainability at the company. That way you can set a good example for the rest of the team. 

Otherwise, employees won't take the company's sustainability practices seriously. Nor would they be encouraged to own it. If this is the case, corporate sustainability is dead in the water. 

5. Co-create sustainable practices with employees

The sustainable practices and strategies that your organisation ultimately adopts must be developed alongside your employees. 

Jump on the opportunity to act on strong, employee-led, initiatives. Doing so will demonstrate your organisation's commitment to sustainability and encourage other employees to develop their own ideas. 

Make it known amongst your staff that funding and other forms of support are available for sustainability initiatives and that the company leadership is willing to source ideas from employees. 

6. Encourage healthy competition among employees

No matter what your organisation does or how effectively it implements sustainability practices, there will always be some of those employees that lag behind the others. Inevitably, a subset will simply be less engaged and involved in corporate sustainability than others.

Organisations can minimise this by fostering a culture of healthy competition surrounding sustainability in the company. After all, competition helps boost creativity, and if employees recognize that your organisation rewards employee excellence, they will be more likely to participate alongside their peers. 

7. Make sustainability visible inside and outside the company

Organisations may put significant focus and resources into their sustainability practices but neglect the visibility of these initiatives. 

Ultimately, this only undermines the success of these initiatives. Researchers at Stanford University found that it is first necessary to change people's perception of what’s normal if you want to change their behaviours. 

It's necessary to make sustainability visible inside and outside your organisation. Employees participating in environmental initiatives cannot simply be encouraged; it must be the norm.

8. Showcase higher purpose by creating transformational change

Finally, organisations must show commitment to their sustainability initiatives by creating transformational change. 

For example, when Paul Polman (who first developed these eight principles) was CEO of Unilever, the company made headlines with its ambitious sustainability goals, which included fully decoupling its growth from its environmental impacts. 

Such a feat would undoubtedly constitute a transformational change for a multinational, multibillion-dollar company. 

Ambitious, transformational goals, especially when the organisation is transparent about them, can energise and inspire your employees to participate like nothing else. 

It will also remind your employees of a critical fact: the climate crisis is a global issue that puts everyone at risk. Therefore, everyone must do their part to mitigate the most devastating effects. 

Final words

As you implement these eight strategies, it is important to also enlist the help of a credible carbon accounting partner. 

Consequence.world offers the world’s most intelligent carbon accounting platform for Net-Zero. With the Consequence platform, you can automate your carbon footprint data collection, calculation, and reporting workflows thereby giving you time to focus on the highest value initiatives, like engaging your entire team, and accelerating your journey to net zero.

Start intelligent tracking, reductions, and reporting of your carbon footprint. 

Visit www.consequence.world to get started.

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