VyraNews #21: Empowering Employee Advocates for Sustainable Change

Happy Thursday!🌿

According to Kite Insights, 8 out of 10 employees are ready to take climate action in their company, and 70% believe the ability to do so contributes to their motivation and well-being.

However, there is a substantial gap between the number of employees who want to take climate action and the number that are actually making an impact.

We looked into the results from our most recent course offering and spoke with participating companies to figure out what can be done to decrease this disparity.

Across 9 companies, our Earth Day 2024 course generated:

  • 342 enrolled employees

  • 103 certificates delivered

  • 354 ideas shared

Employees are actively engaged in and enthusiastic about sustainability efforts, reflecting a shift towards more inclusive and grassroots participation within climate initiatives.

Corporate sustainability initiatives have traditionally focused on top-down strategies and external partnerships when addressing the climate crisis.

However, there is a growing recognition of the untapped potential within organisations: their employees.

Historically, social impact movements haven’t begun with government initiatives, rather they’ve started with individual people driving change. For example, Earth Day was started by people in response to environmental issues in the US and is now recognized globally.

The same goes for businesses. While it is important to focus on top-down change, it is equally powerful to take a bottom-up approach and empower employees to take action.

The challenge is that sustainability teams are extremely time-poor, so empowering this type of change has always been extremely difficult for them to focus on.

Until now.

3 steps to enable employees to take action for sustainability

Step 1: Actively engage employees with the strategy.

Provide an overview (in a format of your choice) of the sustainability strategy and its relevance for all employees in clear language. This way, employees clearly see how their actions correlate with the company’s mission.

How much do you want to reduce your carbon footprint by? How many employees do you want to be involved in climate initiatives within the company?

Step 2: Encourage green initiatives.

Green teams, Climate Crews, Sustainability Squads - whatever you want to call it, establish a group within your organisation that focuses on improving sustainability and encourages eco-conscious decisions among employees.

Assign sustainability champions to lead initiatives and engage employees within teams. Global Indie Games Developer and Vyra Earth Day participant, Team 17, has its own green group, Green 17!

“There is competition between our subsidiaries, once a champion is identified, they drive everyone in their network to engage. The data helps us understand who is engaged with green issues and to what degree.”

- Nick Tennant, ESG & Commercial Reporting Manager

Step 3: Provide resources and support.

It is important to note that not everyone in your company may be educated on the climate risks and opportunities. That’s why providing educational resources that are easy to understand and inspire employees to take action is important.

Overcoming challenges and addressing concerns

While the overall belief in climate change is around 86%, there’s a 26% perception gap between those who would take action against climate change and those who believe others in their country would take the same action.

Due to media and personal interpretations, many believe that people in their own country are more opposed to climate action than they actually are.

Many don’t bother taking individual action because they don’t think it will make much of a difference.

Source: Andre, Peter; Boneva, Teodora; Chopra, Felix; Falk, Armin, 2023, "Replication Data Based on: Global Climate Change Survey", https://doi.org/10.15185/gccs.1, Research Data Center of IZA (IDSC), V5

What’s the solution to this? Promote collaborative change within your organisation. While an employee may not take on a personal climate project, they may be more willing to take action in a team or group setting.

It is also important to inspire climate action in employees rather than guilting them into it. Climate anxiety is very real and can greatly deter people from making changes.

Creating a culture of climate action

Providing educational resources to employees is necessary to ensure they understand the opportunities presented by climate change.

By educating your employees you are building a team of climate champions that want to make an impact in your company.

Octopus Energy also participated in Earth Day 2024 and cited the value of giving staff agency regarding sustainability.

“In terms of environmental education and wellness it is really valuable and important, and I think it is an easy access thing for employees to just go on in their own time.”

-Sophia Kesteven, Sustainability Project Manager

Amplifying impact through collaboration

Building a community where employees can collaborate on projects and communicate openly about various topics is essential for success.

Forums, group chats, and lunch talks are great opportunities for employees to share ideas and meet others who are passionate about similar topics.

With Vyra, employees can share their ideas while completing courses and view comments from other employees in their company. This is a proven way to inspire change among staff and turn ideas into action.

So, what are you waiting for?

The CPD-Accredited Sustainability 101 Challenge with Vyra is launching on World Environment Day! (June 5th)

To claim your free place as a Vyra subscriber, reach out to [email protected].

“We are providing all of our senior leaders and 1,200 employees with the tools and resources they need to become advocates for sustainability within our organization.”

Energia Group & Power NI

“Thanks to Vyra, 100 global leaders in our organisation up-skilled and we received a gold supplier ranking from one of our largest clients upon renewal.”