Action Leaders Spotlight: Employee Engagement with Julia Chalmers, SSE

Credit: SSE

Welcome to Do Nation’s Action Leaders; a celebration of the people in our communities who are leading by doing.

Do Nation is here to help keep global heating under 2 degrees, and limit devastating impact on communities near and far. For this we need radical optimism, imagination and action.

Thought leaders help us see how life can be, Action Leaders put it into action. This month we’re talking to Julia Chalmers who successfully engaged thousands of employees at SSE in sustainable living.

Hi Julia, great to have you here! Tell us a little bit about your world of employee engagement.

I’ve worked for SSE for 13 years and most of my roles have included engagement either Comms and Engagement, Brand Engagement and now Employee Engagement. The thing I enjoy most about engagement is data, mostly because I’m a geek, but I like to really look behind the data to understand what drives and motivates people and to see where we can do better for employees too. I like to think what I do makes a difference for my colleagues and helps SSE to be a better place to work.

Employee engagement can be a tough nut to crack. What engagement strategies, tactics or initiatives have you used that helped crack that nut?

I’m very democratic, and like to think that I’m good at listening, so the biggest strategy that I have is to do my best to understand what drives people, what motivates them and what they are already interested in.

The key thing is to understand the audience and create initiatives that are easy for them to engage with.

To do that, you need to know who you’re dealing with. That’s why networks are so important to me – I struggle to engage 11,000 people with a message, but I do have some very strong networks within the company who I rely on to engage their network on my behalf.

“The key thing is to understand the audience and create initiatives that are easy for them to engage with.”

When you engage people in sustainability, what works best?

Aligning the message to the strategy of the company – at SSE we are all about Net Zero, so as long as I can align my message with that, people tend to be interested and engaged.

People can be very busy at work, juggling lots of priorities. What are your favourite ways to reach people and ensure the current message is landing?

Make it fun, don’t make it seem like a task. People find time if it’s fun, easy to do and and aligns to the strategy, so it doesn’t feel like a waste of time.

From where you stand, what’s the biggest challenge for employee and community engagement right now and do you have any solutions to share with others in the profession?

Time is the biggest challenge, workloads, changes to ways of working and different ways of working. I think people want to get more involved in the good stuff, they want to help. But it can get de-prioritised very easily. A big selling point is senior sponsorship, if the boss says it’s ok or is leading by example or advocacy, then it stays a priority.

Image credit: SSE


SSE used Do Nation to help engage their employees in their net zero journey. Read more in this case study.


What is Do Nation?

Do Nation is a pledge programme that helps engage employees in sustainability at work, via sustainable behaviour change at work and at home.

We help organisations engage their employees in sustainability strategies and goals by drawing on the power of community, connection, friendly competition and behaviour change science.

Our pledge programmes run for 3 months to 3 years and are proven to reduce carbon, water and waste whilst increasing employee pride, fitness and wellbeing.

Find out more

Find out how we can help you engage your people in sustainability. Book a 15 min call to learn more >

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