Ten tips on engaging your team in sustainability
We’re often asked about how to best engage the wider team to help businesses improve their sustainability efforts. The key to success is the passion of your people – so we’ve rounded up ten tips to help get your staff on board.
1. Get it in writing (and make sure your team can input too)
If you don’t already have a sustainability policy - get cracking! A good place to start is by talking with your team about what is important to them. People like being asked their opinion, and most people want to work for an organisation they believe is trying to do the right thing. If you already have a sustainability policy, then engage with your team to periodically help review it. This will help give your people ownership of your shared environmental projects and will inevitably lead to better uptake.
2. Ensure top-down support
Boards and senior managers need to walk the talk on the sustainability objectives of any organisation. A good starting place is to include sustainability goals into senior management KPIs and Board objectives. Making directors and management accountable for the organisation’s environmental performance helps drive change from the very top.
3. Embed environmental metrics into your reporting
Businesses measure their success by reporting against pre-determined objectives. These are typically based around financial results or production targets, but reporting on energy use, CO2 emissions, waste totals and other environmental considerations, puts sustainability firmly in amongst your organisations key goals - and inevitably leads to greater transparency and better results.
4. Encourage the team to contribute ideas and suggestions
Your team is your greatest resource and they can be the best source of ideas and inspiration when it comes to improving the sustainability of your business. If you did step one, then they will already be familiar with the sustainability objectives of your organisation. Next, get them brainstorming ideas on how your goals can be achieved. People from different parts of the business will have different perspectives which provide a more holistic approach to sustainability and encourage innovation and buy-in company-wide.
5. Identify and promote sustainability ‘champions’
While every team member should feel empowered to contribute to sustainability objectives, it can help to appoint leaders across the organisation to form ‘green teams’, with a focus on sustainability. The ‘green teams’ can be responsible for tracking progress, reporting to senior managers and communicating new initiatives to the wider team. Again, make sure all parts of the organisation are involved by having representatives from across the company, which will also ensure the team draws on a wide range of skills.
6. Start small, but aim big
For many people the environmental challenges our communities face are intimidating. So begin with baby steps. Have small achievable objectives, then build towards bigger goals as time goes on. People respond well to targets that appear manageable and attainable. This doesn’t mean that you set your expectations low, it just means that picking some low-hanging fruit early can build momentum to tackle harder challenges later.
7. Positive communication
Robust internal communication is critical to any successful business. Your team wants to know that their work is making a difference to your shared business goals. The same is true for your sustainability efforts. Make communicating your sustainability targets and progress towards them a key aspect of your internal communication. Don’t be afraid to tell clients, customers and stakeholders about your journey. That way, your environmental credentials will become an increasingly important part of your business brand.
8. Invest in training and external advice
It is unrealistic to expect your organisation to have the necessary sustainability expertise in-house. Bringing in external advice to upskill your team on how to set practical sustainability objectives and achieve the best possible results is worthwhile. Use professional development, induction sessions and training opportunities to also help staff incorporate sustainability into their everyday work.
9. Make sustainability fun
Your team probably already compete amongst themselves in the daily newspaper quiz, morning tea competitions and other workplace activities. You can also create fun inter-team competitions centred around your sustainability objectives. Those who drive or operate machinery could be presented with a fuel efficiency ladder, teams could be rewarded for waste-reduction and awards could be presented to those that make the greatest energy savings in each part of the organisation.
10. Help your team do good in the community
Why not give you team the opportunity to do good outside the business? One of the best ways to do this is to facilitate voluntary work through a local charity. You could also set aside a couple of days a year for your staff to participate in a beach clean-up or native tree planting. Yes, this might mean time away from their desks in the short term, but we bet your team will make it up for you in the long run.
We hope you got some inspiration on how to build a green team – take a look at what you can do in your work place to engage your team in sustainability. Even better, share your stories with us on Facebook or Twitter!