For the February edition of our Best Practice Network Webinar Series, we talked with Raphael Bemporad, Chief Strategy Officer at BBMG about the “Five Practices to Engage Employees in Sustainability.” BBMG is a brand innovation firm dedicated to the intersection of branding, sustainability and social purpose. Raphael provided the audience several insights and best practices for engaging employees in CSR initiatives.
Challenges to Green the Team
According to Raphael, striving towards more sustainable actions can be difficult because it’s a cultural change. We are in a tough economic climate, and the barriers to changing individual habits and company cultures can be challenging. However, the evidence is clear that employees want to be engaged, and they want to be “eco” minded. With Millennials leading the pack, the present culture frames the current opportunity for sustainable growth.
Best Practices for Engaging Employees
BBMG worked with Walmart to create a plan to engage their employees in sustainability, named “My Sustainability Plan” (MSP). Here are some of the key insights learned from the program that help to link sustainability with employee engagement:
Understand Where You Are Today: Listening deeply to your employees is the key to creating a starting point on your organization’s path to sustainability. It is important to take a survey of your employees at all levels of your organization to establish a starting point. Each person will view sustainability in a different light, and understand it on varying levels.
Map the Journey: Once you create a starting point for each employee and learn more about how they view sustainability, you can create an outline for your staff. Benchmark and reward them for each step they take to develop more sustainable habits.
Craft the Strategy: As exemplified by Walmart’s MSP, you should create a plan that is simple, straightforward and relevant to your employees.
Theme your Actions: According to Raphael, creating themes and icons to go with each sustainability driver creates a simple and customizable plan.
Tell your Stories: Using those simple icons, you can create a story for each employee that is motivating and inspiring.
Track Progress: It is not only important to track organizational goals, it’s also important to empower employees to track their individual progress toward success. Online tools, such as VolunteerMatch’s corporate volunteer platform help employees benchmark their changes and track success.
Celebrate Success: It’s important to celebrate the success of each individual to help keep them motivated on their path to develop new habits.
Raphael suggested 5 impactful takeaways for getting employees involved in social or environmental programs. Each one is adaptable for organizations of all sizes and sectors.
1) Make It Strategic
Create a vision statement for your program that will unite efforts across all functions of the organization. Employees want to be involved, so sharing your vision with them and defining different metrics for success is vital.
2) Make It Personal
Frame your program so it’s relevant to employees, so you can translate it into relatable life experiences. Start small and build momentum to help employees understand their actions and impact. Each person’s experience is different and each individual process will be different as well.
3) Make It Flexible
Your program should be co-created with your employees and adaptable to their unique styles. Raphael calls this “Freedom within Framework”. The organization will establish high-level organizational goals, but will offer options for how employees can play a part.
4) Make It Rewarding
It’s important to remind people why you are creating a sustainability program and why it’s important. Make the program positive, inspiring, and fun. Inspiring friendly completion like L’Oreal did, is valuable. They created a contest to see which floor in their building could have the largest decrease in electricity use. It’s fun, it’s interesting, and it encourages creativity and collaboration among employees.
5) Make It Last
It’s important to always be looking at your strategy through the lens of the long term, because that’s what sustainability is all about. If you embed the program into the everyday life of your employees and make it core to corporate culture, it will naturally become a pillar of everyday work. Remember that constant evaluation of goals and celebration of progress is a great way to maintain momentum.
(Photo by photoloque_np.)