Smart strategies to inspire employees with sustainability

You may have spent months building a business case and gaining senior leadership support to engage employees in your sustainability programme or campaign. How frustrating it is when all your efforts translate into a boring notice boards, leaflets or e-mails that are hardly noticed.

To win the hearts and minds of employees, you have to do it right! Here are some tips based on Black Sun’s ‘Sustainability from within’ survey and client experience.

Develop a communications strategy

You should clearly understand what segments of employees you need to engage, what kind of messages would resonate with them and what channels they prefer, including direct interaction. Then put different types of content and touchpoints on a timeline.

As our survey has shown, Intranets and internal newsletters are the most common vehicles for internal sustainability communications. Training and inductions are used to a lesser extent, but respondents would like to use them more.

Be genuine and creative

You need something that would excite employees and stick in their minds over a long period. Develop strong messages that would resonate with people, empower them to be owners of sustainability and feel proud of the company. Develop a memorable visual identity for your programme or campaign to be applied to all possible channels.

Studies show that people rely on emotions in making consumer decisions. The same relates to ‘buying’ sustainability. Messages and creative translating happiness are likely to work better than messages leading to surprise or fear.

Encourage employees to share

During one of our workshops, participants emphasised the importance to make better use of employee voices in sharing sustainability messages, both internally and externally. Indeed, ‘a person like myself’ could be more trusted than a senior leader.

Internal social media or collaboration platforms are also a way to source sustainability ideas from different parts of the business. For example, you can run an internal competition to recognise champions and feature their stories in the sustainability report and on social media.

Think about small details

In communications, small details matter.

To help employees spread the message you can use nudges like a press wall, photo box, or boards with quotes to create images for Instagram and LinkedIn. You can also create objects that carry your messages and could be used every day, such as bags, phone cases or bicycle seats.

Think of ‘quick wins’ to showcase your CEO’s commitment to sustainability, such as post on social media, interviews or talks.

To sum up, think proactively about content, touchpoints with employees and channels to tell your story frequently and consistently. Engage both the CEO and employees to be part of the conversation.

How can we help? If you would like to build a business case to engage employees on sustainability, run a campaign, get in touch with our Director of Business Development here. 

Read the full ‘Sustainability from within’ report here.