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Communication is Key: 5 ways to spread the news about your sustainability program

Getting management on-board with a sustainability program is an important step that enables you to implement your projects. But for a program to have staying power, the company culture must support sustainability. All employees need to understand your organization’s sustainability strategy and how it impacts them. Here are 5 easy ways to get the word out about sustainability within your company:

1. Make use of your IT department and/or company intranet

In the best-case scenario, your organization has an intranet that is widely used by every staff member. If this is so, work with your IT department to set up pages devoted specifically to sustainability. These pages can outline your company’s sustainability goals and plan, including a timeline of projects. It’s also a good idea to set up a page where employees can submit questions or suggestions about the sustainability plan and project ideas. If possible, allow anonymous submissions, so if there’s any anxiety about a measure you’re taking, an employee can call attention to it without worrying about getting negative feedback in the workplace.

Even for organizations without an intranet, you can make use of technology to spread the word. Change the desktop of company computers to an educational slide about sustainability, send out regular all-staff emails about any upcoming programs, or set the default page of web browsers to your company’s public-facing page on sustainability. There are plenty of creative ways to use technology to spread information, many of which don’t require any time out of a worker’s day.

2. Make sustainability an agenda item for all-staff and managerial meetings

When your company holds large meetings, be sure to include time to discuss sustainability. Often, a five-minute update is all that’s required to inform employees that projects are in the works and moving in the right direction. Employees will view sustainability efforts as being valued by management; they will see that the program has staying power. It also provides a space for employees to ask direct questions about the sustainability program, which can help keep them engaged in the effort.

Sustainability shouldn’t be saved just for all-staff meetings. Management meetings are a great place to discuss it. Many projects require the approval or support of middle management to implement, even in cases where there is already top-down support.

3. Make sustainability either a performance criteria

Sustainability can also be used as a performance measure for employees. Performance reviews can be tailored to include sustainability criteria, which can be discussed in supervisor-employee meetings. It can be something as small as including innovative ideas and other sustainability contributions as one criteria for end-of-year bonuses. On a larger scale, some companies, such as Intel, tie sustainability to executive compensation.

4. Hang posters/physical advertisements about sustainability efforts

Before you jump on me for suggesting something paper, stop and think about it. Hanging a poster that explains proper recycling behavior right by your trash and recycling bins is likely to instill good habits and avoid more improper waste management habits than the poster’s environmental footprint is worth.

Physical notices about sustainability are often the best way to grab employee attention. A simple sign next to the light switch that says, “Turn off when room is not in use,” provides a daily reminder to act sustainably. You could also advertise your sustainability progress, or upcoming projects, so that people can track how the program is being implemented.

5. Integrate sustainability into the onboarding process

New employees provide the perfect opportunity to set the tone about company sustainability, because they don’t know your organization’s history (especially if there have been less-successful sustainability efforts in the past). By highlighting your company’s sustainability practices and upcoming projects in the onboarding process, it not only gets new employees off on the right foot behavior-wise, it underscores sustainability as a company value.

It’s also easy to do! When you give new employees a tour of your building, be sure to point out trash and recycling receptacles, and tell them what materials are able to be disposed in your bins. If there is an onboarding packet, include a page on your sustainability program and ongoing projects. Even better, consider going paperless for this process and tell all new employees why you made that change.

There are plenty of creative ways to set communicate about sustainability. Over time all of them can have a big impact on embedding sustainability in your company culture.