How to Get Employees Engaged in Your Sustainability Initiative

April 4, 2022
How to Get Employees Engaged in Your Sustainability Initiative

Sustainability is a huge area of focus for many companies — from using renewable energy resources to reducing waste to starting recycling programs. Many corporate strategies focus on sustainable business practices that provide for the needs of the present with an eye on the future. But these efforts will only go so far if your employees aren't engaged in the process. Read on to discover why sustainability initiatives are crucial for the planet — and your business. We'll also look at how employee engagement can help drive these initiatives, and how to get your workers involved in the process.

Do you need a sustainability initiative?

Deloitte’s Global 2021 Survey reports how Millennials and Gen Zers are challenging their employers to become more accountable and help drive change for a better future. The survey mentions how creating a program to help protect the environment and address climate change, is “critical to protecting resources, generating long-term sustainable value, and attracting and retaining high-performing young employees.”

Deloitte’s Global 2021 Survey reports how Millennials and Gen Zers are challenging their employers to become more accountable and help drive change for a better future.

You can make a positive impact on your community by embracing sustainability. This is a great way to build a strong reputation for your business. It may even help create new opportunities for future growth and expansion. Major benefits of starting a sustainability initiative at your organization include:

  • Adds brand value, attracts new hires, and gives you a competitive edge
  • Improves efficiency and lowers energy consumption
  • Reduces waste to help cut costs for a positive effect on operating costs and profitability
  • Helps you meet consumer demands for supporting sustainability
  • Attracts new business and partners looking to work with sustainable suppliers

How employee engagement can drive sustainability programs

Engaging employees to create a sustainable business can help you stand out from the crowd. This can also help attract job seekers to your company. Many workers are looking for organizations committed to implementing sustainability initiatives to help protect the environment. Deloitte’s survey reports that Millenials and Gen Zers often decide on where they'll work “based on their personal ethics.” When it comes to purchasing decisions, 28% of survey participants mentioned they’ve engaged more with organizations “whose products and services benefit the environment.” This same group of Millennials and Gen Zers also reported minimizing their interactions with businesses “whose offerings they see as harming the planet.” Getting employee buy-in for your sustainability program builds trust, excitement, commitment, and ownership. To improve employee sustainability engagement, get your HR team involved in the process. They can help create something where everyone feels a sense of ownership and responsibility.

Getting your employees to own your sustainability initiatives

Are you ready to launch an official policy to create a sustainable business? It can be challenging to know where to start. Exactly how do you get your employees excited about contributing? Here are the top 5 ways for motivating your staff and encouraging employee sustainability.

Take a top-down approach

Getting buy-in from the executive team and other senior staff members is key to getting employees engaged. When your team sees the company president recycling her morning cup of coffee, this lets everyone know your organization is sincere. This top-down approach helps ensure the success of your sustainability initiative efforts.

Create a sustainability committee

Create a sustainability committee filled with staff volunteers. This helps ensure employee buy-in while promoting cross-departmental collaboration. You can reach out to all workers at different levels and in different departments to form a diverse green team. Enthusiastic committee members will share their experiences working on employee-led initiatives. This team can also encourage their coworkers to get involved.

Offer green-commuting incentives

Offer incentives for employees that take advantage of green commuting options. This can include things like taking the bus, carpooling, or cycling to work.

Offer incentives for employees that take advantage of green commuting options. This can include things like taking the bus, carpooling, or cycling to work. For instance, back in 2006, Clif Bar and Company created its Cool Commute incentive. This program rewards employees for leaving their cars at home. They receive points they can redeem for cash, credit at the company cafe, and other perks. You could also create a bike-friendly campus to encourage your employees to bike to work. This can include things like dedicated bike lanes and secured bike storage at your worksite. Consider adding on-site showers, locker rooms, and free or discounted bike-share memberships.

Encourage feedback

Periodic surveys and polls are a great way to increase engagement and encourage employee feedback. Your HR department can also host a monthly Town Hall meeting. The idea is to invite everyone from the C-Suite to warehouse workers. During the meeting, attendees can discuss sustainability topics of interest. Providing a catered lunch from a  favorite pizza joint is a nice touch.

Promote sustainability initiatives

Toot your own horn a little. Share your sustainability initiatives on social media, the company website, and career pages. Meta is one such company promoting its current efforts while building a positive corporate culture. It has an entire website devoted to climate, energy, and other top focus areas. The special website also includes news and links to the latest Meta sustainability report. Encourage employee testimonials and other in-house user-generated content. This can celebrate recent sustainability wins and showcase how you’re making an impact in the community. Consistent and frequent messaging goes beyond informing current employees about what’s going on. It’s also a great recruitment tool to help attract job seekers to your organization.

Making a positive impact

Everyone and every company can do their part to help protect the environment and ensure a sustainable future. Instead of just talking about making a difference, leaders must make an effort to drive change and get everyone involved. Implementing a sustainability program is a great way to get employees enthusiastic about your mission and values. And workers who are actively engaged at their job help build a positive corporate culture sure to attract future job seekers.

This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.

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