Expert Guides

Employee Engagement for Sustainability Part II: How to Drive Action

December 15, 2022
Climate Club

In Part 1 of this series we considered why employee action is critical to your company’s sustainability plans. In summary, it’s because:

  1. Scope 3 emissions reduction requires your people
  2. Employees need clear sustainability guidance on their daily decisions
  3. Peer influence is a force multiplier that drives results 

While it’s easy to see why employees matter, it has been much harder to coordinate and drive employee actions at scale in ways that meaningfully help organizations meet their sustainability goals. The truth is that most employee sustainability initiatives don’t make it outside of green teams or select offices that have volunteered to help.

How do you move employees to meaningful action at scale?

The process leading companies are taking is to guide employees from education through to results in an organized and personalized manner. 

Let’s take these one-by-one. 

Education

UN research and multiple university studies demonstrate that teaching people about sustainability has a climate-positive impact on personal purchases and behavior. In short, informed people generally make informed decisions. 

While general climate education is good, we found that busy professionals want to get to specifics like:

  1. The impact they have on GHG emissions
  2. Personalized information on what they can do to reduce emissions
  3. Context about how their individual efforts help make a larger impact

And, maybe most importantly, employees want to understand carbon emissions framed in regards to expectations of the responsibilities of their jobs. 

It’s this coupling of general education with role-level specifics that helps move people into engagement.

Engagement

Successful companies move from education to engagement by demonstrating visible leadership from management and by providing individualized information that employees care about.  

One of the most common ways to demonstrate visible leadership is to make sustainability something that's talked about at regularly scheduled meetings - like all-hands or monthly reviews - and has a goal attached to it.

When it comes to creating information that employees care about, the first step is to create a benchmark. Within minutes, employees will see their work-related carbon footprint and the Sustainability team will have access to Scope 3 emissions data that has historically been very difficult to collect and centralize.  

As a Sustainability team you can now understand trends and patterns by office, function and level. With data in hand, the Sustainability team can have meaningful discussions with functional and office leaders about how their teams can get organized around the biggest opportunities for carbon reduction. 

 

Action

Once you have all the data, and have surfaced it to the employee, the next step is action. There are three keys to getting action that you seek. 

  • Intelligently surfaced action plans
  • Measurement & reporting
  • Encouragement & incentives

Intelligently surfaced action plans

Because most organizations don’t have individual data they attempt initiatives that they believe will work for many or most employees. While that is well meaning, it's difficult to provide rewards or encouragement when some people can't participate. With individualized data you can get the right action plan to the right person at the right time. 

Measurement & reporting

Plans are all well and good but they need accurate and current measurement in order to drive consistent action. With Climate Club we gather results at intervals that are tuned to the specific plans. Now you and your employees can measure progress towards goals without waiting for quarterly or annual updates. 

Encouragement & incentives

As Harvard Business School mentions in their article about Change Management, creating incentives and encouragement is one of the most important ways to keep a team moving forward with change. 

We use our data and analytics to create leaderboards so employees, managers and teams can see how they stack up against others. Many organizations we work with set aside budget for rewards and incentives and partner with other organizations to provide benefits to employees. 

If you'd like to learn more about how Climate Club helps Sustainability teams move employees from Education to Engagement to Action then reach out on our Talk to an Expert form.