15 Ways to Educate Your Staff about Your Sustainability Initiatives

 

One of the main challenges companies face in sustainable progress is getting everybody on board. Perhaps top level management have a sustainable vision, but it’s not necessarily shared by everybody who works for the company.

Offer Training in Sustainable Practice

It’s not surprising. Just like anything else a company values, training must be provided. Customer service, Communication skills, Workplace safety, and Leadership are all common training topics within a company. And we must add Sustainability to this list if we want to achieve the goals we set. It’s a practice that may not be obvious to a lot of people and incorporating it into their day job will be less so. But it can be part of a corporate strategy that can be inspiring, and not tedious like many other topics like compliance or ethics.

Talk About the Connection Between Things

Nature Deficit Disorder, or NDD, has unfortunately become a “thing”. The term was coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 book, Lost Child in the Woods. Due to our modern lifestyles, our focus is shifting increasingly more towards the digital world and away from the natural world. And with less time spent outdoors, we are distancing ourselves from what supports our lives in the first place. We no longer observe the intricacies of a natural ecosystem, and our “ecosystem thinking” (the realization that all things are connected and the ability to see things in context) is therefore being threatened.

With the condition quickly worsening, we need intrinsic motivation to revert back to being more resourceful and more sustainable in our approach. Of course there are many benefits to business, as discussed in my Special Report, The Big Business Benefits of Sustainability, but often it can be difficult to see how sustainable practices benefit the individual. What’s more, a company’s sustainability success is at the helm of a group of individuals, all with their own beliefs, motives, frustrations, challenges, needs and emotions.

However, all is not lost.

Here are 15 ways to help your team align with your sustainability objectives:

1. Develop a green mission statement / vision statement. Leaders should define the company’s purpose and share it with employees.

2. Share the economics of energy savings. Each kilowatt of electricity saved translates to a boost in your company’s bottom line, which could be used to offer  incentives for resourceful employee behavior.

3. Always communicate with employees about sustainability in company newsletters, posters, meetings, and provide inspiration at every opportunity.

4. Engage employees at home too by encouraging them with discounts for solar power options, weather proving their homes, public commuting, and eco travel.

5. Create a video for employees by employees highlighting their progress and giving ideas on how to get involved.

6. Encourage a “citizen” outlook for company and country and evoke a sense of purpose in something larger than just a place to work.

7. Allow employees to take the initiative in how to green their workplace. Small things such as indoor plants can help clean the air, appeal to one’s sense of nature, and be a great mood booster.

8. Regularly ask what sustainable choices company buyers are making, and if they see opportunities for improvements. Address their difficulties in making sustainable choices so they become easier to make.

9. Harness social media – have employees take group photos beside a new piece of clean technology, or have your team hold up environmental messages. Upload these pictures to Facebook or Instagram.

10. Connect with other companies in your area to brainstorm and coordinate strategies for moving forward with clean energy.

11. Share your new commitment to reduce your carbon footprint and communicate your achievements to date.

12. Award employees for their contributions and ensure that sustainability ambassadors are not only at the top of the organization, but in every department and across every level.

13. Encourage employees to put their sustainability ideas forward.

14. Celebrate company milestones with employees and ensure your efforts are visible.

15. Incorporate sustainability into key performance indicators. Help employees understand how key sustainability principals apply to their job and how they look for opportunities to improve. Encourage them to help the company achieve its sustainable leadership strategy.

Investing in training and development, systems and processes will enable your company to make sustainable decision-making easier on a large scale. Most people want to be seen “doing the right thing”. People are naturally curious about how to do things better and actually seek out information on how to do so. But telling employees about climate change or putting up posters about recycling will not bring change. Instead, teaching your employees how to incorporate the new mindset into everyday decisions in the workplace will soon show them the benefits of sustainable behavior. It will get them thinking about products, services and operating systems that will bring new purpose to their jobs and a sharp edge to your company’s competitive positioning.

 

Further Reading

1. How Companies Can Tap Sustainability to Motivate Staff
2. M&S – Wholly Embracing Staff in Plan to Become the World’s Most Sustainable Retailer
3. All You Need To Know about Nature Deficit Disorder
4. How to Educate Employees about Sustainable Practices
5. Why Getting Serious about Sustainability Needs to Start with Training

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