Go Green ran its first members’ only workshop last month, kindly hosted by Copper Consultancy in their lovely, bright meeting space overlooking the harbourside. Over coffee and pastries, Harriet Kingaby, freelance Communications and Engagement Consultant, shared her enlightening insights into human behaviour and what it takes to co-ordinate a successful internal green team. The group discussed the challenges they face to support other members of the green team and communicate their sustainability message to the wider business and to ensure they have senior manager support.
Harriet opened the workshop by using research and case studies to provide an overview of human behaviour and what motivates people. Here is a summary of what we covered.
There are some key things to remember about humans when planning a staff engagement programme:
- Human beings are not rational
- People tend not to empathise with objects and landscapes, but relate much better to other people
- People suffer from ‘information contamination’ from the media and arrive at their understanding of an environmental issue with preconceptions
- It is important to understand where people are coming from and what is important to them and to speak to their individual internal drivers of behaviour
- 62% of the UK population think that those who go out of their way to be sustainable are different
- There are widely held preconceptions that sustainability is a feminine issue
- Using big picture imagery such as images of the Earth is overwhelming, and people can more easily dismiss something as not their problem
- If a message makes someone feel guilty they will ignore it
- Pledges work best when the pledge is made to someone or something e.g. such as a friend or a relative
Harriet recommended Dan Pink’s book, Drive. In it, he outlines three key factors that promote ‘intrinsic motivation’: autonomy, mastery and feeling connected to a higher purpose.
1. Extrinsic motivators – these are things such as rewards and money. They are often used to motivate people, but motivation may fade once they’re removed from a situation.
2. Intrinsic motivators – These are the things that fire us up as individuals, and make us want to get out of bed in the morning!
Harriet shared a case study about E.On and how they re-launched their Green Team.
Here are the most valuable messages we took away from this:
- It’s important to remind people of the positive things already achieved
- Keep activities positive and fun
- Provide prizes to do surveys
- Get senior management buy in and get them to take the lead on actions and make it part of their targets for the year
- Get a champion from senior management and HR
- Record a video from your CEO showing support, enthusiasm and knowledge of the scheme to share with staff
- Embed sustainability in the organisation’s strategy where it will be recognised across the business and ensure there are representatives from each department within the green team
- Tap into the competitive nature of people
- Use the right media channels and local papers to tell people about what you are doing to increase the status of the project within the business and wider community
- Use internal communications to tell a personal sustainability story every month to share what staff have achieved
- Tap into the idea of ‘social proof’ – if your neighbours or competitors are doing it, you should be doing it too!
- E.On ran a ‘Thank You’ Campaign. They nominated champions in each team for why they have done a great job and in monthly meetings had a ‘Thank you wall’
- Ask senior leaders who they consider are the dynamic leaders in their teams who will be around for a long time and who people approach for help and support and invite them onto the green team. Senior managers nominate middle managers and they nominate those at the grass roots level who are needed to deliver change
- Reframe the green champions as those who are gaining status from being experts in the scheme. E.On had a green, red and black belt champion system to encourage staff to become masters of business sustainability – sustainability ninjas!
A successful green team will benefit from including the three types of people who create change:
1. Salesmen – the whizz kids who can talk well
2. Connectors – those who know everybody and can bring people together
3. Mavens – those who are fountains of knowledge but not so socially confident or extrovert
Becky Borrow from Copper Consultancy spoke about their use of the JUMP employee rewards scheme and how it has motivated staff to take up more sustainable behaviours in the workplace and on their commute. The company signed up because they recognised that a happy and healthier team was more productive.
Key messages about the JUMP scheme:
- It is an online platform that rewards positive actions taken – such as traveling sustainably to work.
- You can choose 8 core modules to offer your staff
- Employees can donate reward points to charity or claim them for an eco-product prize from the Green Rewards online store
- Participants can login any time, and are kept in touch with monthly newsletters
- It is very quick and easy to log activities as you go. Once a week a log of activities is emailed to the participants in the scheme so they can see how many minutes they have walked in the week etc.
- The cost of the scheme depends on the size of the business
- A visual representation of the data from the whole company can be used for staff engagement – i.e. active travel in ‘doughnut equivalents’
- The scheme is mentioned in the induction package of new staff at Copper
- Copper find it to be a low maintenance option
It was great to hear honest feedback about this scheme which could be useful for certain organisations that are looking for ways to engage their staff, you can find out more in our case study!