How to use tech to engage employees in sustainability
With mounting pressure from the climate crisis and changing political climate, there is more need and urgency than ever for businesses to maximise sustainability efforts.
Consumers are more frequently considering environmental and ethical business practices when purchasing goods, with a 2021 study finding that 40% of UK adults choose brands that they know have sustainable practices when shopping, increasing profits and market share of sustainable companies.
With Bloomberg intelligence predicting Global ESG assets to exceed $53 trillion by 2025, businesses are motivated to prioritise green initiatives from a profitability perspective as well as for social responsibility purposes.
Employees too are increasingly seeking employers with a clear sustainable agenda. A 2020 study found that 65% of respondents were more likely to work for an organisation with strong environmental policies.
An environmental initiative is only as powerful as those carrying it, so it is vital employees are committed to and engaged with sustainable practices.
Implementing tech that aids sustainable practice can help make it as simple as possible for employees to engage with green practices. Digital technology and environmental sustainability may often be considered mutually exclusive, but they are often mutually reinforcing – it can be difficult for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint without technology.
For sustainable practices to be successful, managers and employees need knowledge and competence about sustainable practices, embedding sustainability into employees’ day to day.
Tips for engaging employees in sustainability through tech
1. Blockchain technologies
Consumers and investors are seeking transparency in products. Blockchain provides this transparency for clients and consumers through allowing tracking across the chain; guaranteeing product integrity between producers, retailers and consumers. Blockchains of course benefit investors and consumers, but also positively impact employees through making sustainability simple.
For example, American restaurant chain Sweetgreen uses blockchain to work with local farmers and artisans to champion health and sustainability. When employees can easily track and see products to ensure sustainable and ethical manufacture and transport; it becomes easier to ensure that sustainability is being upheld. The more straightforward sustainable practice is, the more employees will remain engaged.
2. Digitising your operations
Technology should be making sustainable practices as simple for employees as they are for consumers. When sustainable practices are as easy as their unsustainable counterparts; they will be their most effective.
Digitisation should help establish sustainability understanding and proficiency through making knowledge and tools easily accessible to everyone within an organisation. Developing the knowledge required to drive these challenges in your company's operational activities and your management teams will maximise engagement and efficiency of sustainable practice.
3. Data sharing
What we often refer to as Industry 4.0 comprises a range of technological advancements that can be used by manufacturing organisations. Asset data capturing allows product creators and users to view and understand the life cycle of goods. This not only promotes a sustainable reputation for a brand or company, but improves efficiency for employees. Tracking achievements and the impact of sustainable actions helps boost morale and a sense of pride in employees' sustainable efforts. Data sharing technology makes this simple to review and creates incentives. Tools such as Pawprint help employees track carbon outputs through data capture.
Teaching personnel to become ‘implicit sustainability managers’ will embed sustainability as a priority within your organisation and allocate responsibility for sustainable management.
4. Using tech to connect teams
The modern world of work is increasingly encouraging the use of softwares such as Teams, which enable easy interaction between employees. Establishing green groups on communication sites aids interdepartmental communication about sustainability practices and initiatives, and keeps employees regularly informed, reinforcing the message and making it a part of day-to-day conversations. NHS trusts are learning by example, with many, such as Barts, establishing dedicated green trusts.
5. Knowledge sharing and collaboration
Partnering with tech companies can help business leaders meet sustainability targets through support in reframing their thinking, and in the implementation of sustainable initiatives with measurable impacts. This collaboration and sharing of knowledge lets companies implement products or initiatives which then translate directly to their Corporate Social Responsibility Goals.
These partnerships can range from digital platforms to sustainable catering and reusables and will place sustainability at the heart of company and employee agenda. Cauliboxes, for example, can be used hundreds of times and vastly limit plastic waste.
CauliBox is an award-winning, tech-enabled reusable food packaging solution for workplace dining that minimises single-use food packaging waste. Founded as the UK’s first reusable food packaging scheme by Josephine Liang and Ming Zhao, in just 2 and half years they have pioneered QR scanning in Europe in enabling reusable borrows and returns to combat the 11 billion pieces of packaging waste that are produced every year from food-on-the-go. Since inception, over 20 commercial partnerships have been forged with businesses including Westminster City Council, Societe Generale, financial institutions and various NHS Trust hospitals. CauliBox was named CleanTech of the Year by West London Business in 2022 and awarded the NHS Sustainability Partnerships Innovation Award 2021.
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