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10 Tips for Engaging Employees in Your Sustainability Initiatives


​Making all employees aware of your company's environmental commitment and priorities won't happen overnight. It'll take time and a few reminders along the way before everybody is on the same page. Use the tips below to engage employees while you work to create a greener and healthier work environment. 

  1.  Integrate sustainability from the beginning. Indicate sustainability goals and/or your environmental mission statement in the job description. On the first day of work, provide an overview of your sustainability initiatives and integrate it into training.
  2. Be clear about the purpose. Be upfront about why sustainability is important to your organization. Show how it makes economic sense to be more sustainable. Having purpose increases employee engagement, retention, job satisfaction and productivity.
  3. Personalize it. Figure out what motivates staff members and provide meaningful incentives for participating in green initiatives. Make it fun! Some companies use financial incentives, extra privileges, prizes, or recognition.
  4. Get management involved. Make sure managers and executives lead by example. Actions speak louder than words and company values are more likely to shift when employees see that company is sincere about sustainability commitment.
  5. Reach employees where they are: break rooms, conference rooms, washrooms, parking lots, and online. Forty percent of employees prefer to hear about opportunities to engage in sustainability initiatives from their management, newsletters or emails. Thirty percent find workplace events effective. Twenty percent prefer employee ambassadors.
  6. Use technology efficiently and appropriately. Choose the most effective manner to communicate. Some use intranets, closed social networks, virtual newsletters, or email. Some engage in passive advertising with rotating messages on screens or signs.
  7. Inspire competition between employees, departments, and even peer companies. Competition stimulates creativity and enthusiasm. Employees can develop skills in areas that are needed to make innovations in sustainability: pushing boundaries, trusting group members, and collectively solving problems.
  8. Recognize achievements, engagement, and creativity. Keep it positive. Give out awards or showcase contest winners. Some businesses make a staff sustainability superstar profile for the employee newsletter. Find the employees that are actively interested in sustainability and provide them opportunities to lead. 
  9. Track and display progress. Develop indicators to track environmental progress. Regularly inform employees about company's results with clear graphics. Use examples that employees can visualize. Share successes and failures and tie performance back to opportunities for employees to make improvements.
  10. Evaluate and update goals with employee input. Solicit input in person, at events, and/or through an online portal. Respond to feedback. Companies get more and better ideas when all employees are encouraged to share ideas. Employees find their jobs more fulfilling when they have opportunities to make a positive impact, and to contribute feedback, ideas, and solutions.
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