Who benefits most from individual climate action?

Did you know that 93% of businesses are not delivering on their sustainability plans, only 21% of employees feel engaged in their work and  75% of UK adults are worried about climate change?  

These figures are depressing. But have hope. We have some surprising insights on the far-reaching benefits of individual climate action.

Why are businesses not delivering on their sustainability plans?

  • Simply, because there’s not enough internal engagement – from shop floor, to C Suite to shareholders. Not because people don’t care about the environment, but because they’re not connecting to the plan.
  • Which means not enough investment of time, thought and money.
  • Which means lots of words, but not enough action.

Why are so few people engaged in work?

  • People are disenfranchised. Companies say they want to do the right thing, but rarely get it right.
  • Mistrust in the corporate world is rife.
  • The great resignation is headline news and it’s triggered the herd – everyone is on the move.

Why are people worried about climate change?

  • Partly because it’s very scary.
  • People don’t feel equipped to do enough to help
  • They don’t believe businesses and political leaders are doing enough, or will do enough in the short amount of time we have left.
  • The endless doom scrolling, where we focussing only on disaster, makes us feel like there is no hope.

So what can be done?

From where we stand, it’s simple. The key is employee connection and engagement. Mark Carney said “Companies that don’t adapt will go bankrupt without question.” so lead from the top and get everyone onboard.

When you engage work communities in individual climate action you set in motion a bottom up carbon reduction journey that supports top down targets.

How can businesses deliver on their sustainability plans?

  1. Engage employees at all levels in sustainability:

    • Link KPIs and objectives to sustainability
    • Give all departments sustainability targets to deliver on
    • Meet people where they are, talk to them about things the care about.

  2. Combine strong strategic planning with fail fast tactics and agile-inspired ways of working:

    • Utilise iterative, agile implementation and learning
    • We need quick action on climate, so find opportunities to move fast and show your employees that action matters to you.

  3. Tap into people’s existing connection with climate change and sustainability:

    • Don’t underestimate how much people worry or care about the environment
    • They may not be on board with your sustainability plans because they’ve not had a chance to connect personal engagement with professional engagement.

  4. Give disengaged employees space to bring their concerns to light:

    • People just want to be heard
    • Find out what’s important to them around climate and sustainability, and why they’re not on board with your current plans
    • Whatever you do or don’t do as a result, follow up and report back.

Employee participation, innovation and ownership can accelerate businesses’ transition to net-zero, and unlock individuals’ and teams’ creativity to deliver on sustainability plans at every opportunity.
It has other benefits too, such as building a culture of mindful consumption, attracting and retaining talent.”

Bloomberg, on launching their Do Nation programme

How can we help people reduce their climate change anxiety?

  1. Give them the tools to take action – it’s the antidote to anxiety:

    • Share knowledge on how to start taking action
    • Meet people where they are – give them practical tips that make behaviour change doable
    • Provide resources on how to keep taking action.

  2. Grow connections and community bonds:

    • We spend lots of time at work with colleagues, strengthening bonds benefits the individual and the work community
    • People support each other in taking action and knowing that together their small actions are adding up to something big
    • Create a space where people can share resources, tips, thoughts, concerns and successes.

  3. Champion stubborn optimism:

    • Don’t gloss over the facts, be realistic yet optimistic
    • Climate change is happening, fast, and it’s scary. Yet we just have time to keep global heating under 2 degrees
    • A sustainable, equitable future is possible – and we’ll be happier, healthier and better connected for it
    • We just need to encourage each other step up and make changes at home and at work.

The benefits of individual action

We’ve spent the best part of a decade running employee engagement pledge programmes and gathering data along. This has given us some pretty cool insights into how engaging people in sustainable behaviour change changes the way they think and feel.

We see that when employees take individual action, as part of a community effort:

  • 67% of people report feeling increased well-being
  • 83% feel prouder of their organisation
  • 48% feel fitter and healthier
  • 72% feel part of a community making a difference together
  • 77% know and understand more about sustainability
  • 68% are more aware of their organisation’s sustainability work.
Image of individual action benefit statistics

Small acts lead to systems change

These positive impacts comes from participation in everyday sustainable behaviour change activities; simple things like washing laundry on a lower setting, cycling more, reducing meat consumption a little, and tackling food waste at home.

And it leads to people changing how they engage in sustainability at work. And engaged employees means less absence and a 23% increase in profits.

Across our customer base – including at ARUP, Siemens, Pukka Drinks and Network Rail – following a Do Nation pledge programme we’ve seen:

  • New sustainability initiatives
  • Carbon, waste and water working groups being set up
  • New sustainability policies being implemented.

Simply because people engaged personally and felt able to bring more to work.

If you’d like to know more, get in touch.

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