The benefits of engaging employees around Sustainability are manifold, such as
- adding purpose to people’s jobs
- increased motivation and performanceand ultimately,
- positive impact for society.
But what I like in particular, is that people “expand their consciousness” about what Sustainability is about.
What is probably not surprising is that most people are not aware about what their company is already doing around Sustainability. Even companies that don’t have any specific Sustainability strategy usually have some, few actions in place, that their employees are thrilled to discover. And employees are usually very positively surprised about existing Sustainability initiatives, which motivates them to build on that and to continue further by ideating new initiatives.
In my experience the value of truly engaging your staff in Sustainability – beyond “one-shot” awareness campaigns – is that there is an enlarged consciousness around what Sustainability means for them, their organization and society at large.
Here are 3 major takeaways I would like to share with you.
I believe they are key to not only engage employees but make these colleagues your motivated “allies” in your efforts to engage your organization in Sustainability.
- Sustainability is a marathon, not a sprint
Due to lack of awareness (or consciousness), people expect their companies to be “impeccable” on certain topics, such as Sustainability and often have a “black and white” attitude, expecting perfection and thinking that it will be impossible to make their company sustainable.
What I have seen people realize in my workshops when truly engaging in the topic (and going beyond “one-shot” awareness initiatives), is that Sustainability is not something you can achieve in the short term (even if there is a 100% commitment from everyone within the organization). It’s a huge change the organization has to go through, and as every change, it takes time. You must be patient, perseverant, be willing to “try and fail”, learn and keep going. As in a marathon, it’s not about how fast you go, but how much endurance you have, keeping a clear goal ahead and enjoying the exercise, despite the effort and pain! 😉
2. Sustainability touches all areas of business and collaboration is key
Another key insight is that Sustainability touches all areas of our lives and therefore all areas of business (even if it might not seem as such in the beginning). And since Climate Change affects our health, food systems and lifestyles, Sustainable development demands a systemic approach.
This means, we cannot tackle sustainability by ourselves – even though individual action is necessary. If we want to adopt true business sustainability, collaboration is key. This is true at a larger societal scale and also for businesses. Employees understand that engaging stakeholders – in and outside of the company – is important and necessary to start taking action, reducing negative impacts on society and the environment and eventually start having a positive impact, too.
3. It’s possible for everyone to take action
While 62 % of millennials “only want to work for an organization that delivers social and environmental impacts” and a French survey (Baromètre de l’entreprise responsable) found that “59% of employees would like to be more engaged in their companies’ CSR initiatives”, it still remains a challenge to actually engage employees on Sustainability.
What happens when employees start to be actively and regularly involved in Sustainability initiatives (beyond ad-hoc awareness days) is that people realize that they, too, can make a difference, that it’s up to all of us to take action at our own (small) scale and that it does not have to be complicated.
It can be as simple as changing a certain habit such as printing less or bringing your own coffee mug (click here for more ideas and simple Sustainability hacks for busy employees) to actually changing things in their jobs, which can be very varied.
Some of the initiatives ideated by employees that I have seen in my client work were eliminating plastics in packaging, optimizing logistics, reduced transport footprint and engaging in a dialogue with stakeholders. For more ideas on how to add Sustainability to everyday jobs, download this free workbook.
What insights have YOUR employees expressed after having actively been engaged in your company’s Sustainability initiatives? Leave a comment below with 1 major insight!
Like and share these 3 insights, to inspire others!
Written by Marena Eirich, founder of teams4purpose®.
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