How do you get your employees on board with sustainability? Communicating the urgency and need for a sustainable transition within a company can sometimes be difficult. It’s necessary though, if you want to implement a CSR strategy. In this article, we help you understand why and what actions you need to take to make it happen.
Why is raising employee awareness important?
Despite a company’s efforts to create effective sustainability programmes, employee involvement in CSR strategy is usually limited. One barrier is that employee participation is generally on a voluntary basis. If implementation of a CSR strategy is considered or presented as secondary, employees will not believe the initiative to be essential and will not make the effort to get involved.
Sustainable development is an increasingly well-known and discussed topic. You might think that your employees already know enough, but it’s still important to ensure that your sustainable approach is understood and taken on board by them. After all, your employees are at the forefront of your sustainable transition. They make the business run daily and know its workings better than anyone else. Consequently, they are not only well placed to take part in achieving sustainable goals, but also to represent the initiative outside the company. Engaging your employees in your sustainable transition is a way to ensure its full implementation internally, and assure your image externally.
More and more studies show that a high level of employee awareness contributes to the success of implementing a sustainable transition. However, the initiative is often confined to executives and senior management within a company and this leads to loss of awareness and interest among middle management and their employees. Confining the project and awareness to a small group within the company is too restrictive and unproductive. It has a knock-on effect on full company engagement and the organisation risks losing its collective intelligence, creativity and innovation.
Let’s not forget either that raising everyone’s awareness about sustainable development is important because environmental damage is everyone’s problem. Each one of us has a responsibility at our level and must be aware of our impact, hence the need to involve everyone in the process. Studies show that CSR is directly linked to employee retention, productivity and overall engagement in the company’s activity. Employees unite around a shared goal and are generally proud of it.
How do you engage employees in your company’s sustainable transition?
Making your employees aware of your sustainable transition is more than just about communicating. You need to create a shared vision and goals for the entire company. Motivating your employees is a project in its own right that will take time and energy, but will build a solid foundation for your transition. To attract your employees’ interest, you must involve them and make them an active part of this sustainable transition. Here are a few ideas to help get as many on board as possible.
- Be critical of your communication efforts and put yourself in your employees’ shoes. Sustainable development is a broad topic that involves several sub-categories, each as important as the other. Make sure your communication is clear and always ask yourself whether the employee who knows the least about sustainability will understand. The approach must be consistent for all.
- Get help. Sustainable development is a very broad topic (as we just mentioned above), and a company’s transition to sustainability is a long process that will affect all departments. Communicating and raising awareness about this requires considerable effort. That is why it can be useful to call upon a consultant specialised in the subject who will have the tools and time to ensure good understanding within the company.
- Show the CEO’s support. A demonstration of support from the CEO remains an effective way to unite teams. It shows that sustainability is taken seriously and will be part of the company’s overall commitment.
- Communicate information on your company’s intranet. In large companies, the best way to circulate information is via the intranet. You can also create a category specific to sustainable development and its goals on the intranet.
- Be transparent. When implementing a CSR initiative, the company is required to calculate and analyse its impact in terms of carbon footprint, suppliers, donations and more. You will have results and figures, and it’s important to be transparent about them. Give your employees the chance to understand the reasons for the initiative and where you’re heading.
- Nominate sustainability ambassadors. While sustainability must go beyond volunteering, creating a motivated and committed representative core team will help spread motivation. These ‘ambassadors’ will be relays within the company to help create better understanding about the company’s approach.
- Set up working groups on specific topics. Everyone has their own awareness and knowledge about certain topics. Some will feel strongly about the environmental aspect of waste sorting, while others will want to address diversity… Letting employees meet and reflect on these areas for improvement will strengthen their commitment and action.
And to finish, if you want full and sustainable implementation of your CSR strategy, raising employee awareness and engagement is essential. We just can’t say it enough! Your employees are the heart of your business. So, make sure you have the necessary means to ensure their involvement and understanding – the benefits are boundless.
If you’re convinced sustainable development is the way forward, and would like help to raise awareness among your employees, get in touch. We’d love to help!