19 tips for engaging employees during a lockdown


Here at remote-Do-HQ, we’ve taken a little of our lock-down time to learn from our clients’ wealth of experience around communicating with their people and encouraging them to try out new healthy, environmentally friendly habits. 

What have they learned about engaging employees in their Do Nation pledge challenges? And how could this help others to run effective pledge challenges during the corona crisis?

First – why now? 

Is the midst of a global pandemic really a good time to try and push the sustainability agenda out to our employees? Short answer: probably not. Even though climate change isn’t going away, it’s understandably not going to be top priority for most right now. 

But the importance of keeping team spirit high and employees in good health – both physical and mental – is greater now than ever. Time and time again, our users have reported improved wellbeing, health, sense of community, and pride in their organisation as a result of their Do Nation programmes (see our impact report). 

Right now, this is invaluable. 

Plus a lot of the actions that we list on Do Nation are hugely relevant during these strange times – such as wasting less food, repairing clothes, and taking time to read more.

So if you frame it well, with sensitivity and tactfulness, now could be a perfect time to launch an employee pledge challenge. And in doing so, you may help to keep sustainability somewhere on the agenda, ready to come back to full force once we’re through this pandemic. That’d be a double win.

So, what are those tips?

We asked our clients to answer a few questions; here I’ll share some of the key points. 

When it comes to promoting your pledge campaigns and getting people to take part, what has worked well?

zoom call

  1. Announcing it at company wide staff meetings, with pledges from senior leaders already made. (It’ll have to be virtual meetings for now, but in person when that’s a possibility again).
  2. Following up with a series of emails, including: 
    • Imagery to invoke the cause (a picture of Greta, for example)
    • A direct link to the campaign pages
    • Clear and simple outline of how to take part
    • A deadline for signing up – that urgency was mighty effective. 
  3. Keeping priority Do Actions fresh, updating them regularly to reflect current issues. For example, at the moment you might want to link them to actions people can do from home, and then when lockdown ends and people start coming back to the office, focus on actions around travel and commuting. 
  4. Using internal social networks to keep momentum going with regular posts. A weekly progress update based off your Monday morning email update from Do Nation works well.
  5. Creating teams and delegating responsibility to team champions within each. Encourage them to talk about it in their team meetings, helping to get their co-workers on board. (NB this is only really worthwhile for companies with +30 employees).
  6. Encouraging a mixture of online and offline conversations between team members, rather than depending on only one form of communication.

What didn’t work so well?

  1. Trying to run it as one company-wide campaign instead of setting up a team leaderboard and getting team champions involved.
  2. Not getting buy-in from senior leaders from the start.
  3. Creating a video guide on how to make a pledge – it turned out that it wasn’t used much. A set of simple screenshot guides was far more helpful and effective.
  4. Only using email, depending on this too much didn’t work. 
  5. Keeping all the Do Actions on the list, as it overwhelmed users with too much choice (NB it’s only possible to remove Do Actions from your overall list on our Plus subscriptions). 

What advice would you share with organisations who are looking to launch a campaign during lockdown


  1. Communicate the positives of taking on these actions – no one wants to be hearing about a climate crisis right now – one crisis at a time is quite enough to handle. So focus on the positives rather than the negatives. It’s a really good time to embed new habits – trying new recipes, growing your own, reading more, reflecting on things. 
  2. Suggest some simple activities that teams can do together to help complete their pledges. Ideas include:
    • All doing jumping jacks on a video call, helping to avoid turning the heating up! (Degrees cooler)
    • Sharing veggie recipes and having a virtual lunch club where you all cook together (Cook social, Veg out)
    • Run a virtual gardening session where a keen gardener amongst you shows their colleagues how to plant and care for herbs, salad, and other simple veg that can be grown on windowsills (Green fingers, Voice up) 
  3. Set up team leaders who can engage with their colleagues in virtual team meetings, asking how people are getting on and sharing updates. A good structure for these conversations could be: 
    • How are we doing? Update on number of pledges, carbon, and leaderboard position
    • What pledges have people enjoyed doing? 
    • Is anyone struggling with any pledges? Ask if anyone has any tips to help them through. 
    • Set a target to achieve before the next meeting
  4. Offer a prize for the winning teams (ideally base this on the number of pledges completed, not just pledges made)
  5. Run weekly communications, each with simple and clear steps for how to access and take part. 
  6. Set a company-wide target (for example, innocent drinks aimed to save 500,000 bananas worth of carbon together). 
  7. Motivate people by talking about what’s already been achieved, and where you aim to get to (the impact stats page on your admin dashboards can be really handy for this).
  8. Just keep talking to each other about it.

I hope that you find these insights and tips on communicating and engaging with your people as helpful as we did, helping you to keep your teams happy and healthy during these strange times.

If you’re interested in running an employee pledge challenge over the coming months, get started right away with a free trial of Do Nation Pro.

Finally, a huge thank you to Triodos, Delta-EE, Siemens, Network Rail, University of Chester, COOK, Frontline AIDS, Bikmo, and Wholegrain Digital for providing feedback. 

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