Jul 232013
 

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Running a green event at work is a great way to engage employees on sustainability, which in turn can bring great bottom line rewards. LoyaltyOne, for example, dramatically reduced their staff turnover rate through employee engagement initiatives (see this post for more details). Whether you are planning for staff environmental fairs, contests with a green focus, or environmental film screenings [‘Chasing Ice is a great award winning film I’ve shown at private events to wonderful results.—Derek], keep the following list of Do’s and Don’ts in mind and you should be on your way to engaging successes. If you have other great tips, be sure to leave us a comment at the end.

Do

  • Have a clear objective and set of desired outcomes.
  • Plan carefully. You need to ensure you invest time and money into the event as you would with any other project, otherwise it won’t be seen as a priority. David Willans of Futerra Sustainability Communications suggests a minimum of five months is needed to plan properly.
  • Choose your date carefully. Linking into annual events like Climate Week or World Environment Day can be a good basis for work sustainability events. If so, make sure employees know why the event is happening on that particular date.
  • Use your event to show the business case for sustainability.
  • Make the most of the event to draw interest and attention to new sustainability policies, launch long term strategies or even just to highlight the work of the sustainability team.
  • Keep it informal and fun. People are busy and probably won’t engage with something that feels like extra work. Inter-departmental competitions during the event could work well.
  • Keep it fresh. Sustainability events risk becoming ‘part of the furniture’ if the format isn’t refreshed each year, so make sure you do something different to grab and hold attention.
  • Sustain efforts. Regular communications are essential for maintaining engagement after the event – consider having a regular sustainability feature on the company intranet, or in the internal newsletter or magazine.
  • Try increasing efforts as years go by. For example a sustainability day could turn into a sustainability week, which could lead to a sustainability month.

Don’t

  • Just do it so that your business has something good to say in its Sustainability Report. Employees won’t engage with anything that just seems like a ‘box ticking’ exercise.
  • Let it exist in isolation. Sustainability events need to be part of a wider programme of activity that maintains awareness and involvement throughout the year.
  • Do anything that seems unconnected to the core of the business and its culture. If it doesn’t seem relevant, people are unlikely to want to get involved.
  • Simply focus on why sustainability is good for the business. Sustainability events can be a great way of linking the workplace with the home – consider bringing in energy experts to talk about how employees could save money through making changes in their own home.
  • Ignore what your employees want. Consider asking employees what they’d like to see during the event or send out a feedback form asking what could be improved the next time around.
  • Pressure people to take part. If people feel like they are being told what to do they’ll be less likely to want to take part and may well revert to past behaviours when the watching is over.
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Lucinda Broad is a community manager at 2degrees, a community for sustainable business based in the UK.

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