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As talks about sustainability continue around the world, most businesses have woken up to the fact that sustainability is crucial. However, it can be hard for sustainability goals and objectives to succeed without the buy-in from employees. It is critical to get all employees interested and engaged to embrace sustainability as part of their daily jobs. Moreover, getting employees invested in the organization’s sustainability work can open up opportunities for them to work for a purpose, which leads to job satisfaction. Besides realizing economic benefits, a company can enjoy more engaged and happy employees and a high retention rate. The problem, however, lies in how to get the employees to see sustainability as part of their responsibility. We have rounded up five tips that organizations can give a try.
Even with all the buzz around sustainability, it is a mistake to assume that every employee understands what it is all about. For them to give your sustainability efforts full support, it is important that they understand what it is and why it matters. Find ways to provide training opportunities about sustainability for your employees. You can consider bringing in an expert to the company or sponsor employees to attend seminars, conferences or online training on sustainability.
In addition, it is important to provide opportunities for employees to apply what they learn in their work and life. For instance, let your employees help in creating relevant policies on sustainability. Another great idea is to integrate sustainability into the company’s team-building activities. You can partner with atlasGO, an organization that helps organizations keep employees connected and healthy. You can benefit from challenges arranged by this organization and help employees make sustainability a priority through virtual tree planting and other green activities such as cycling, picking up trash and cooking vegan meals.
A great way to have employees invested in something is to give them a voice rather than giving orders. By allowing them to create and think of sustainability initiatives, they are likely to see themselves as part of the greater good. You can create an avenue such as a green team that gives employees a platform to share their ideas. Some other great ways would be conducting meetings and encouraging them to share ideas. You can also conduct sustainability surveys to see what employees think. However, you have the task of encouraging these ideas. Making it clear that funding is available for sustainability projects can motivate employees to be creative and come up with good ideas.
Celebrating when you achieve sustainability goals can be a great way to inject some fun in the process. Say, for instance, you had a goal to reduce water usage by 10%. Encourage the employees to take steps in helping reduce water usage such as turning off faucets when not in use, reporting leaking faucets, and more. You can also install low-flow toilets and faucet aerators. Another great idea for saving water is to install a reverse water filter in the workplace. A filter can help in recycling water that has been used around the office, and making it safe and clean for use again.
After all these efforts, make it visible to everyone when you have achieved your goal. Reward your employees with a prize. You can give them a share of the profits in form of a bonus or host a fun event. Letting them suggest what they want as a reward also goes a long way.
The issue of “What is in it for me?” often arises before employees can offer support for proposed goals. When it comes to sustainability initiatives, showing employees how they are going to benefit the company, and in return help their job security, they are likely to support your efforts. Make it a point to help employees see the economic benefit that each sustainability initiative is going to bring to the company. Will it help save costs? Will it help open new markets? Does it give a competitive edge? Employees need to see this to understand that sustainability isn’t just doing good, but also doing well as a company, which guarantees them meaningful employment.
When you show your employees tangible results of sustainability efforts, they are more likely to give an automatic buy-in. A good place to start is in areas that affect their lives outside work. For instance, everybody loves a clean environment. Participating in a cleanup initiative around the neighborhood can touch them personally and show them the importance of taking care of the environment.
Sustainability has become an integral part of doing business. In as much as it is a way of fulfilling a higher purpose, it has shown clear business benefits. But, to succeed, it is paramount to find ways to weave in into the values of each employee. The above points provide some foolproof strategies that organizations can use to make sustainability business as usual for all employees.
Written by Josh Levinne.
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