How to successfully engage employees in sustainability

CRS Trends  »  Sustainability culture   »   How to successfully engage employees in sustainability

Too many organizations underestimate the power of employees to help drive change across the company, specially when it comes to sustainability. But employees can become a great force for good when they feel actively engaged. 

Organizational and regulatory changes are undoubtedly affecting the workforce, and in many occasions it has been reported to be a disturbing element to people’s work. 

Sustainability, in all of its facets, from environmental regulations, to social impact activities or governance changes, is amongst the many restructurings or transitions companies need to go through at the moment. 

But there seems to be a common misconception that understands these organizational changes as something that needs to happen, end of the story.

employees sustainability

This seemingly hands on approach to regulations and demands is in fact a very dangerous trend that translates into corporate leadership underestimating and undermining the power of employees to drive sustainable change throughout the organization. 

This is, something that could bring great opportunities for innovative thinking and a smooth sailing through new sustainable regulations, is in fact turning against the company. Why? Because employees are not properly and actively engaged. 

Engage employees in the sustainability strategy

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Building engagement for sustainability

The answer seems quite simple, if organizations want changes to happen with relative ease and acceptance, they need to start by engaging their employees in the necessary transitions. However, most changes won’t come naturally, and in many cases it can even create unrest among the workforce. 

So what is the best way to approach organizational changes including sustainability? Here are some tips to understand how and why to help employees understand and engage with change.

Provide context and explanation to change

Organizations who choose to jump over employees and merely ask for changes to happen without context or the necessary explanation are doomed to fail in their quest for sustainability or any other major restructuring of the company.

If employees don’t understand what and why changes are happening, it will be a thousand times more complicated, if not impossible, to create a sense of commitment and ownership over new activities or requests. 

employees sustainability

Furthermore, a lack of clarity in changes, or a poor understanding of the new requests happening within the company, may result in employees pushing back on them. 

Company leadership or managers cannot assume employees understand the reasoning to these changes; on the contrary, they must provide full transparency, and spend as mucha as time as it is possible and necessary to not only explain such changes, but to provide context on why they are necessary. 

Provide a clear view of the future

Changes tend to go hand in hand with uncertainty, specially in times like this, where environmental and social disruption have become the norm. Such uncertainty calls for companies to be able to provide a compelling view of what is ahead. 

However easy it is to focus on short-term disruption, it is important for employees, as well as other stakeholders, to understand the bigger picture, this is, the positive outcomes that the long term will bring if we start changing today. 

An interesting way to do so is by stating your purpose and view of the future and ask yourself, how are these current changes helping me achieve such vision?

Provide regular communications

Any organizational change will not be achieved on a straight line. And even if this was true, persistent communication is key to guide people throughout disruption and adaptation periods and processes.  

Studies have shown that regular communications, this is, keeping employees informed every step of the way, is what can ultimately bring success to organizations seeking important changes. 

For these communications it is important that they stay consistent and coherent to the narrative explained before, transparent in what it is you know for certain and what might not be so clear, and state what there is for employees to benefit from from all of this.  

employees sustainability

Using technology for good

In DoGood we believe that working collectively can help us find that which alone may seem unattainable or useless and instead create a collective and individual eagerness to make a difference, both for the sustainability and purpose of the company and a more sustainable way of being for all employees. 

Through our technology we help companies establish ESG impact objectives for employees in regards to the sustainability strategy of the company, activating and tracking employees’ impact, and creating engagement that translates into improved ESG metrics, reputational value and an overall positive impact for the environment and society.

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