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Becoming a more sustainable brand through employee engagement

When it comes to sustainability, there are some brands who are way ahead of the game and others who are not. Brands who embrace a more sustainable outlook, can gain so much potential, as becoming more sustainable can make them appeal to both a wider audience and in the long run, save money. But, in order to achieve a more sustainable outlook, businesses must be prepared to move away from traditional operations and adopt new methods.

Looking at the common approach to sustainability within a business, everything usually stems from reviewing the current processes and implementing changes within certain required areas.  Usually, it involves replacing old environmentally-unfriendly equipment with new, eco friendly ones. However, as good as this basic approach is, it doesn’t help achieve the full scope of potential when it comes to sustainability.

Actions need to be changed. Just simply telling your employees to put the waste in a new, separate bin that categorises material isn’t going to be enough. The idea is to develop an understanding amongst your employees and encourage them to have the same mindset as you, it’s also worth highlighting the value that their actions bring to the company as well as the environment.

One thing to consider is, instead of viewing waste as disposable problem that needs collected, encourage the view that the material is not waste at all. Of course, it’s no value to the company and it won’t be used however, it is still a valuable resource that the company has produced, and it can be used in some way.

What’s challenging with this, is trying to get the message across to everyone within your company, and for it to eventually hit the entire industry.

The first action required, would be to knock down the wall of doubt and note that people won’t be as difficult to sway as you may assume. It’s mostly in our nature, to want to do the right thing. What you have as an ally is awareness. Nowadays, people are very aware of their impact on the environment and want to reduce it. Most people also accept that it takes a group effort.

The biggest challenge to overcome, is long-term versus short-term. Usually, any short-term goal tends to conflict with long-term ones; they are, by their purpose, more immediate and therefore appear more achievable. There’s a sense of response and feedback far quicker with short-term goals. In order for long-term goals to be stuck to, a form of monitoring, measuring, and reward schemes are required in order to maintain enthusiasm to reach that distant goal.

The whole action needs to be tackled with a company-wide effort. Silo workers, which are groups within a company who lack the will to share information with others in the same company, can delay this progress. Not just that, it encourages the shifted responsibility motive, as in one team leaving the entire responsibility on another and ignoring their own duties to change, this needs to be addressed quickly for the process to work. If these attitudes are changed, it helps engrain a consistent focus on sustainability among all employees.

One the best places to start this process is via procurement. Within this article, we will look at a company’s waste process, whether it’s as small as a regular bin collection or a frequent need to hire a skip, as an example

When analysing a company’s old waste management process, the focus would be to achieve money saving solutions and growth at the same time. This causes a refined focus on price per lift and the how frequent the collection that’s offered by a third party. But this does not help a company achieve its long-term sustainability goals; even if the service obtained is well-documented, it is still the same old process, just better recorded! Instead, it’s easier to achieve success if we ditch the old process and accept that it worked well for the company then, now it no longer supports the drive for sustainability. Your new process needs to be developed around your new sustainability goals. Doing this will ensure that your new process is flexible, more creative and a lot more efficient for your workplace and its current goals. It all comes down to working smarter, not harder.

Another thing to make note of, which strengthens a company’s sustainable processes is transparency. A published statement, declared timescales, and defined targets are far more convincing than a sweeping statement of commitment to the cause.

Also, goals are goals and are not threats. Businesses should work to not keep these to themselves out of fear of putting themselves on any sort of threat. If there are goals that can’t be achieved, be open as to why this is and identify the issue, whether it’s an internal or external factor, you can shine a light on it and encourage change across the board. Doing this in turn, will lead to improvement and innovation, which is a positive.