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Surprisingly refreshing conversations

 

Sustainability is one of those curious internal communication topics. Your company’s people can be passionate or completely indifferent, and it’s always political. It is a topic filled with skepticism, the risk of looking fluffy and the feeling that big ambitions are not enough.

The challenge is: how do we drive employee communication that is authentic, engaging AND high level enough, so that we don’t get lost in the details?

Through working with global clients, we’ve collected key tips on getting your people engaged.

 

1)   Think simple language

It is easy to get bogged down in the details. Cut through and keep it simple. Bite sized.

 

2)   Use great visuals and not just plants

Give it a visual identity and its own campaign.

Sustainability is more than green plants. A cliché to avoid is banners with plants, posters with plants and more banners with plants. Sustainability covers Environmental, Social and Governance and the visuals need to reflect this.

Think creatively and look at the bigger picture. For example, a globe can represent not only the environment, but society and the world we live in. If used well, good symbolism can be powerful.

 

3)   Be honest, frank and concrete

Of course, this depends on your company and what you do, but we always recommend that you talk about progress in an honest way. Be clear on what is not working right now and how it could work in the future.

Don’t be scared to talk about it. Talk about it with all its complexity – but using simple language. Cover responsibilities, behaviors, breaking it down to digestible chunks.

A cliché to avoid is coming up with a very generic strategy without telling people exactly how your company is going to achieve this. You need to include concrete examples. Avoid making it a strategy that will sit in the drawer.

 

4)   Activate at the grassroots

Bottoms up or grassroots, whatever you want to call it, this is all about how you engage directly with your people. Relying on cascade or top-down doesn’t work as you are only as strong as your weakest link. Be active with your people, even if it is as small as posting something on Yammer to get the conversation going.

 

 5)   Focus on the personal

Include everyday actions that your people can do in their personal life to help contribute. This is also what companies are judged on and can have a huge reputational impact. For example, do you encourage your people to consider more environmentally friendly modes of transport?

Companies now need to be brave. They need to bring ownership to their communication. Say it as it is. Would you rather someone say they want to be net zero or say they will be net zero? Words are powerful and can change mindsets. Use them well. Either say it or don’t say it. Make sure you have surprisingly refreshing conversations on sustainability with your people.

 

Working on an employee engagement project?

Need some strategic and creative advice? Get in touch! Connect with Tshepo De Villiers (South Africa), José Mateus Pinheiro (Europe) or Alexander Stephanou.

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