Employees, customers, clients and larger companies in the supply chain are asking more and more to see climate action from the businesses they buy from, work for and work with. In this article, we explore why engagement is critical to delivering your net-zero strategy.
Founder of Positive Planet and pragmatic environmentalist.

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57%

of employees say that their organisation is not doing enough to involve them in cutting their carbon emissions.

76%

of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments before deciding where to work.

21%

A poll of 1.8 million employees shows teams with high engagement rates are 21% more productive.

What is the challenge?

A recent study conducted by Positive Planet found that only 10% of companies are taking responsible action to reduce and mitigate their climate impact. However, 57% of employees say that their organisation is not engaging employees to help cut their carbon emissions. Employee engagement is a common factor among companies that successfully deliver positive climate action. However, many businesses fail to communicate their sustainability strategy, which results in employee apathy and under-delivery. 

What is the solution?

Engaging employees in carbon reduction initiatives is an effective way to motivate staff and successfully achieve environmental goals. Companies can establish shared ownership of carbon reduction targets by taking a strategic approach to engagement and ensuring that leaders are accountable. If you are looking to create a robust sustainability strategy, it needs to have employee engagement at its core. 

 

What are the co-benefits?

A recent Gallup poll of 1.8 million employees showed that teams with higher engagement rates are 21% more productive. Increased staff engagement and a collective drive towards something positive can lead to increased productivity, enhanced staff retention and an improved ability to attract the best talent. Additionally, a robust sustainability programme that engages employees will enhance a company’s ability to attract and retain talent. A survey of millennials found that 76% of them consider a company’s social and environmental commitments before deciding where to work. Finally, in an ever increasingly competitive job market, the ability to differentiate your company from competitors could prove key to securing the top talent. A survey of millennials found that 76% of them consider a company’s social and environmental commitments before deciding where to work.

The solution

Our engagement services aim to educate, inspire and motivate employees to change their behaviour both in and outside of work. Here are our top five tips for ensuring that you get strong engagement for your net-zero programme:

One: Engage, Inspire, Act

Set up a cross-functional sustainability team responsible for creating the plan, delivering projects, achieving goals, and communicating with colleagues and stakeholders. Offering Carbon Literacy training is an excellent way of helping employees understand how climate change will affect them – both geographically and sectorally – and have acquired the knowledge and skills to lower their personal and work carbon footprint. Typically, employees who undertake Carbon Literacy training realise carbon savings of 5-15% per person. 

British retail and commercial bank, NatWest, has appointed internal climate change champions to access information that they can then share in their teams. In addition, NatWest has made climate training available to everyone in the company through its Learning Academy. All employees must complete a mandatory climate module as part of the annual group learning policy.



Two: Measure & Plan

You can manage what you don’t measure, so starting your programme with a carbon emissions audit and reduction plan is good practice. Get senior managers and your sustainability team involved in creating your reduction plan. If your scope three supply chain emissions are a big part of your carbon footprint, then engaging your procurement team involved to signpost your goals with suppliers is a good idea. 

Three: Report & Communicate

Determine the Key Carbon Indicators which you need to report to track your performance and measure your impact. You might want to include Carbon Budgets as part of your annual financial budgeting process. Share your goals and performance with employees and external stakeholders. Writing a climate impact statement that commits you to take action and decarbonising by a set date helps to ensure that you have a mandate to deliver your net-zero programme. 

Four: Share & Collaborate

There is no single winner in the race to net-zero – we either win or lose together. Collaborating to share best practices, solve problems and learn from others is a great way to accelerate your net-zero programme. Positive Planet Net-Zero Alliance delivers a structured programme to inspire your decarbonisation roadmap and extend your network of sustainability professionals. 

Five: Accountability & Empowerment

Engagement is about making people feel accountable and responsible for embedding climate targets into every aspect of their organisations. Establishing the proper governance and management structures is also key to increasing engagement and awareness across teams. Ensure that your employees have tools and information to make more sustainable decisions. 

Business leaders must take employees on the journey to meet their climate targets — finding ways to ensure they understand the overall mission and engage them personally in day-to-day corporate climate action. For example, Trainline, the rail travel booking platform, believes that having an empowered and passionate team behind its company objectives has been instrumental in increasing the momentum of its climate activities.

Keen to set your organisation on a path to Net Zero? Need help getting there? 

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Founder of Positive Planet and pragmatic environmentalist.

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