It’s crucial to keep employees engaged in sustainability. After all, they’re the ones that are carrying out your strategy.
In our experience, there are three main ways to keep employees engaged:
- Tie it to their jobs
- Make it easy around the office
- Consider sustainability-related benefits
Let’s dive deeper into each of these strategies:
1. Tying Sustainability to Their Jobs
Make sure office initiatives, daily work, and resources reduction are part of their day-to-day. You can do this by setting a goal for each employee, tying it to their annual review, or bringing it up during one-on-one meetings.
Each employee should know and understand their role in making the company sustainable. If you’re a manager, make sure you’re checking in with employees to see if they have questions or ideas about sustainability. If you’re an employee, follow up and share what you’re doing with your team and manager.
Another part of tying it to jobs is reporting on progress. As a manager, regularly report on how the team’s changes are working and improving the set goals and initiatives. Share progress toward goals regularly to motivate and engage employees to continue.
2. Make It Easy
How can you make regular office activities like lunches, purchasing, or team outings more sustainable? Often these changes just take a review or questions like “how can we make this action align with our goals?”
Also, check with suppliers and vendors to ensure they align with your sustainability values.
Easy wins include recycling or compost bins around the office, information on reducing paper around printers, and signs to turn off the lights. If you have a book club, read a book on corporate sustainability.
Other office practices include reducing plastic with reusable bottles and mugs, sharing best practices for trash and recycling and hosting workshops on topics like plastic reduction, forest conservation, or climate change.
3. Promote the Benefits
The third way is sustainability-minded benefits to keep employees excited. For example, transportation and driving are significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, so consider adding to your benefit package:
- Incentives for carpooling
- Subsidized public transportation where available
- Steps to encourage biking, including parking for bikes
Embracing the Triple Bottom Line means caring for your employees and offering them excellent benefits. Do a benefits review based on employee surveys and see if there are some you can add. Items like breastfeeding rooms or policies, flexible work schedules, and education allowances go a long way towards employee engagement.
Another benefits consideration is ESG-focused 401k benefits so their retirement can be invested with companies that share their sustainability goals.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with sustainability. But if you look at it piece by piece, you can find ways to keep employees engaged and excited in the work you’re doing — and the impact you’re having.
Eliza Erskine has a Master’s in Sustainability from the Harvard Extension School and a BA in Business Administration from Boston University. She founded Green Buoy Consulting in 2018 to help small and early stage businesses with sustainability. She grew up in the Pacific Northwest and lives in New York City.