Once we understand the importance of engaging all employees, at all levels of the company, in the sustainability strategy, it is time to set out an action plan to make engagement as enriching as accessible. In fact, sustainability efforts should be embedded in the corporate day-to-day.
That is why we wanted to exhibit some of the most effective ways for employees to gain the necessary knowledge on sustainability and align with the organization’s sustainable goals, mission and vision under the premise of everyday small actions which, if done collectively, make a big different for all that corporate entities encompass, including the market, society and the environment.
The gap between the ‘why’ and the ‘how’
Before we go deeper into the specific actions companies can take towards sustainability awareness and engagement among employees, it is important to remember that even for people who are significantly educated in the matter, they won’t always assume or accept sustainability as part of their job, but rather believe it is a separate subject that does not, or should not, interfere with their tasks.
This is relevant as far as it confirms the idea that developing a successful sustainable strategy across the entire organization comes at the expense of many different levels and patterns of action that cannot be avoided or downplayed.
As a matter of fact, recent studies show that it is not the why sustainability is important that slow down companies in the path towards this goal, as people are increasingly aware of the benefits of sustainability, not only from corporate leading positions in regards to economic opportunities, but also at an individual level by introducing sustainable practices in their lives. The real problem comes when trying to figure out how to translate such awareness onto employees’ daily work and operations.
Closing the gap
But, how can we close the gap between these two questions and create a stronger link between values and employees’ daily work? Here are a few initiatives that may help in the process to implement sustainability across the organization:
- Aligning personal and corporate values: It is not strange to imagine how one might overlook its own values in favor of the company’s monetary or performance end goals. But it is as easy to imagine that this may very well end up taking a toll on employees’ motivation and willingness to develop themselves in an environment where they can’t, generally speaking, be themselves. One should not build its values around actions, but rather build its actions around a set of values. Once we understand this, it becomes clear that implementing sustainability requires personal and corporate values to reconcile. On a formal level, this is present on job descriptions or employee training for example, at a psychological level it can refer to rewards or recognition of sustainable practices, and at a social level, it is about the coherence between what the company says, and what its practices actually portray.
- Creating sustainability knowledge: It is easily arguable that education is the key to everything in life (and business), including sustainability. In order to encourage employees to take sustainable actions into their work, it is important to make sure there is a clear and deep understanding of what sustainability is, as the complexity of the term can downplay people’s efforts. Investing in training, both for leaders and employees as a whole, is probably one of the most effective ways to engage individuals in the corporate path towards sustainability. Although some aspects of sustainability require a higher level of expertise, there are many others at a more accessible level that would be damned if not properly communicated and collectively integrated into daily business activities.
- Make employees part of the decision making process: Engaging employees goes beyond just handing them a list of practices or lessons, in fact, it should be a two way communication process, where employees have the opportunity to co-create such practices and lessons. This means, for example, opening a channel for employees to put their sustainable ideas, initiatives or projects on the table for them to be reviewed and eventually applied and funded when applicable. This can also be a means to avoid distrust on the projects or initiatives set out by the higher management levels of the company, which in turn diminish engagement.
- Encourage healthy competition among employees: Embracing a new set of goals or a big change of paste inside the company is not always easy, nor fun, but an effective way to foster cooperation towards change is to create a culture of healthy competition that at the same time encourages creativity and people’s individual skills. It is also a matter of flexibility and independence that helps willingness grow as well as finding new ways in which to work collectively in the achievement of the given goals.
Engaging through transparency
Transparency is a fundamental part of any sustainability related policy or practice inside an organization. Transparent information and open channels of communication are key to get the whole picture of any given issue, understand it fully to make the necessary assessments, and develop an adequate action plan to prevent further damage. Transparency is the base for healthy and reliable engagement across the organization.
In DoGood we believe you can’t manage what you don’t measure. This is why we actively work to pursue transparent and traceable information to be reported and help companies achieve a continuous improvement as well as a stronger relationship with stakeholders to help impact society and the planet in a positive way, helping revive trust and confidence.
In this regard, it is essential to our work to promote good corporate governance, meaning that the processes of disclosure and transparency are followed so as to provide regulators and shareholders as well as the general public with precise and accurate information about the financial, operational and other aspects of the company, including a more accurate definition of the ESG performance.
We have developed a corporate government tool that helps establish ESG impact objectives for employees in regards to the sustainability strategy of the company. Through our SaaS technology we are able to activate and track employees’ impact, creating engagement that translates into improved ESG metrics, reputational value and an overall positive impact for the environment and society while creating a purposeful environment where sustainability is the common denominator.
If you want to know more about how we work to create a positive social and environmental impact, click here.