Engaging Employees in Sustainability: 6 Strategies You Need to Know

Last updated: May, 2023

Engaging Employees in Sustainability: 6 Strategies You Need to Know

Your employees are an integral part of your sustainability plan.

Without them, bridging the gap between individual actions and company goals is a struggle. 

Any misalignment also affects how the public views your commitment to sustainability. If it doesn’t add up, it can decrease sales and any potential investment and negatively impact your reputation. 

Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to boost employee engagement in sustainability that will help you achieve your net zero goals faster and positively affect your bottom line.


The State of Employee Engagement in the Workforce


According to a study by Gallup, 79% of employees feel unengaged at work.


But how does a lack of employee engagement affect your sustainability goals?

Let’s take a closer look.

  1. You won’t make meaningful progress. Your employees are a key stakeholder group. If they aren’t committed to helping you reduce emissions, you will struggle to see long-term sustainable results.
  2. Your employees won’t understand their impact. Changing your light bulbs and switching to greener packaging is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough. You need to drive behavioural change at scale, which comes from having a workforce that understands the environmental impact of its actions.
  3. You can damage your reputation. Your employees’ lack of action towards your goals can affect how your customers and investors perceive your commitment to sustainability.


Overall, that’s why it’s important to create a culture of sustainability and give your team the knowledge and skills to help the company reduce its carbon footprint.

It turns your goals from a top-down mandate to a shared mission, encouraging everyone to take ownership of reducing carbon emissions.

When employees are actively engaged, they’re more likely to:

  • Contribute innovative ideas
  • Follow sustainability practices
  • Advocate for green policies


These are essential steps towards achieving net-zero emissions by driving change through daily actions, choices, and innovations.


RELATED: The Best Employee Engagement Solutions 


The Benefits of Employee Engagement and Sustainability


Boosting employee engagement in sustainability does more than help the planet. It comes with a slew of business benefits that can boost profitability and your long-term success.


It Increases Profitability by 21% and Productivity by 17%


In a 2018 Gallup report, companies with a highly engaged workforce report a 21% higher profitability and 17% higher productivity.

A 2023 study by Bain & Company and EcoVadis validates this claim further. Businesses with satisfied employees had three-year revenue growth of up to 6, and profit margins increased by 16%.

It makes sense.

When you’re engaged, you’re motivated to complete your tasks on time and want to go the extra mile to achieve the company’s goals.


Because they aren’t just the company’s goals. They are your goals.

This steamrolls into a better customer experience, more sales, and higher revenues.


It Reduces Turnover Rates


A commitment to sustainability is your company’s biggest selling point to younger generations.

Millennials and Gen Z seek to work at companies that reflect their values, especially regarding sustainability and social responsibility.

So much so that 51% would not work for a company that doesn’t have strong sustainability policies, and 70% indicated they’d be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to solving sustainability issues.

By demonstrating a genuine commitment, you can attract and retain talent who are not only skilled but also highly motivated to help you achieve your net zero goals. This alignment of values can reduce turnover rates, lower recruitment costs, and build a dedicated, passionate team.


It Increases Customer Loyalty and Trust 


Your employee’s engagement has a direct impact on your sales.

Customers are increasingly making purchasing decisions based on a company’s environmental impact and sustainability practices. 

According to recent studies, 50% of global consumers say commitment to reducing carbon footprint will often or always influence their decision to trust a brand. A further 84% said poor environmental practices will alienate them from a brand.

When engaged in sustainability, employees become ambassadors of the company’s values, directly influencing customer perceptions through their actions and communication.


RELATED: Steal These 4 Excellent Sustainability in the Workplace Examples
6 Strategies for Boosting Employee Engagement in Sustainability

6 Strategies for Boosting Employee Engagement in Sustainability


Start engaging employees in sustainability with these strategies and accelerate your progress towards net zero.


1. Establish Clear Sustainability Goals


Establishing clear, measurable, and attainable goals is the first step to engaging employees in sustainability. 

Clear goals provide a roadmap for action, making it easier for employees to engage with and commit to the company’s sustainability initiatives.

These objectives should not only align with the company’s overall mission but also be relevant to the employees’ day-to-day activities. 

By setting specific targets—for example, reducing carbon emissions by 20% within five years or achieving zero waste to landfill by 2030—employees can clearly understand what the company aims to achieve. 

Furthermore, these goals serve as a benchmark for tracking progress. They can significantly enhance employees’ sense of purpose, as they can see how their individual efforts contribute to the company’s larger environmental ambitions.


2. Explain The Benefits of Sustainability


Clearly communicating the benefits involves demonstrating how sustainability efforts positively impact the environment and the company’s success.

For example, it helps to reduce costs through efficiency improvements, enhance brand reputation, and increase competitive advantage. 

For employees, understanding how their actions contribute to these outcomes can boost motivation and commitment. 

Additionally, highlighting the personal benefits, such as working for a company that aligns with their values and contributes to their sense of purpose, deepens their engagement. 


RELATED: Sustainability in the Workplace: 5 Ways to Influence a Sustainable Behaviour Change


3. Involve Your Employees in the Process of Creating Your Goals


When employees are part of the goal-creation process, they’re more likely to feel a sense of ownership and responsibility towards achieving the goals. 

It’s a collaborative approach that encourages a culture of innovation. You can crowdsource ideas and use each person’s knowledge, skills and creativity to identify problems and come up with effective solutions.

Lastly, it ensures that the sustainability initiatives are relevant and attainable, reflecting your workforce’s real capabilities and understanding. 


4. Provide Climate Awareness Training


Offering on-demand climate awareness training is essential for equipping employees with the knowledge and skills they need to contribute effectively to the company’s environmental goals. 

It’s also something employees want.

According to Salesforce research, over 8 in 10 global workers want to help their company operate sustainably, and 3 in 5 employees are eager to incorporate sustainability into their current role.

That’s not all.

Only 38% of employees surveyed by Deloitte think their employer “is doing enough to address climate change and sustainability.” 

Upskilling employees enhances their ability to participate in sustainability initiatives and creates a culture of environmental responsibility throughout the organisation.

Emission Sentri offers on-demand green upskilling. Your team always has access to awareness training from basic to advanced and shareable certifications. This empowers employees to upskill at their own pace and helps remove the workload of continually running workshops.

This investment in employee education demonstrates the company’s commitment to sustainability and empowers employees to actively participate in the sustainability journey.


RELATED: Why Employees Want to Work for Sustainable Companies

5. Recognise and Reward Your Employees


Incentives and recognition go a long way in maintaining enthusiasm and commitment.

Recognition can take many forms, from public acknowledgement in company meetings or newsletters to tangible rewards such as bonuses, gifts, or extra vacation days. You can also offer employees the option to donate their reward to causes they are about.

Implementing a rewards system that aligns with achieving sustainability milestones encourages employees to go above and beyond in their efforts. 

It also reinforces the company’s commitment to its sustainability goals, showing that these initiatives are valued and integral to the organisation’s success. 


6. Have Clear Communication and Transparency of Your Progress


Regular updates on your achievements, challenges, and future plans in sustainability foster an environment of trust and inclusivity. 

Sharing this information through newsletters, meetings, or digital dashboards allows employees to see the impact of their contributions and understand the ongoing efforts and dedication towards environmental goals. 

Emission Sentri, an employee engagement platform, gives your team real-time insights delivered across your digital ecosystem. Integrating with all your emissions data, you’ll always have an up-to-date snapshot of your progress toward emissions reduction.

This openness keeps employees motivated and encourages them to continue participating actively in sustainability efforts, knowing that their actions are part of a larger, impactful journey.


RELATED: 7 Ways to Improve Sustainability in the Workplace

Start Engaging Employees to Create a Sustainable Business

Engaging employees is integral to your strategy to effectively meet sustainability goals.

Without your team supporting your efforts, you’ll struggle to accelerate your net-zero plans and reduce your emissions.

By using strategies like providing climate change awareness training, recognising and rewarding employees, and having clear visibility of your progress, you can meet your sustainability goals and reap the environmental and business benefits.

Ready to take the first step?


1. How can companies measure the impact of employee engagement in sustainability? Companies can measure impact through sustainability metrics such as carbon footprint reduction and energy savings. Employee surveys and participation rates in sustainability programs also provide insights into engagement levels.

2. What are the most effective ways to motivate employees to participate in sustainability initiatives? Effective methods include providing training and education on sustainability, creating a culture that values and communicates its commitment to environmental responsibility, and bringing visibility to the company’s progress.

3. How often should companies update their sustainability goals and communicate progress to employees? At a minimum, companies should review and update their sustainability goals annually and communicate progress regularly through internal newsletters, meetings, or digital dashboards to keep employees informed and engaged.

4. Why is employee engagement important for sustainability? Employee engagement in sustainability is important because it leverages the collective effort and creativity of the workforce towards achieving environmental goals, directly impacting a company’s ability to operate sustainably and meet its green objectives.

Drive Emissions Reduction through Employee Engagement

Engage with your employees on your emissions reduction commitment and progress through multi-channel insights, awareness training, intelligent recommendations using Generative AI and more.