By: Chris Large, Senior Partner, Global Action Plan

How do you engage your workforce on sustainability, when there are so many other issues competing for their attention? Sustainability Managers who came to our recent round tables likened the competition to an ‘arms race.’

Following our recent blog ‘Seven employee engagement challenges every sustainability manager will relate to’, we look at this particular challenge in depth: how to make your message stand out. Here are five of our favourite tools and techniques you can use to make your message the one that resonates with employees.

Make an infographic

Infographics are a fantastic way of getting your message across by making it visually appealing.

You can use them before a training session as a preparation tool, or to reinforce the message afterwards. You can also display them in training rooms or communal areas.

Global Action Plan ran a campaign with telecommunications company O2 Telefonica, to encourage staff to spend at least one day a week working from home. We placed giant infographics in the main reception and throughout their offices to celebrate the campaign’s success and reinforce the behaviours it encouraged.

Don’t be put off by thinking you need a designer to help you. You don’t necessarily need great design skills to make infographics. There are some great software packages out there:

  • Piktochart – (Free with an option to upgrade)
  • – (Loads of great templates to use immediately with option to upgrade)
  • – (Particularly effective for showcasing interactive data)

Get social networking

Global Action Plan used Yammer, an internal social networking platform, during our campaign with O2 to promote ‘[email protected]’ principles. We photographed 70 people holding pledges on placards and uploaded the pictures to the internal social network. Making the messaging fun and creative – and especially using images – was a key part of the campaign.

This raised the profile of the campaign and encouraged people to participate through “social norming”, or showing people that pledging was something that the majority of their colleagues were doing. You could try:

  • Jive (From around £8 per user/month)
  • Convo (Free for 20 users or less)
  • Yammer (Roughly £8 per user/month)

Get interactive

Giving a human face to your engagement will improve morale and involvement among your staff. If that human face is an influential figure, such as senior partner or director, even better.

Global Action Plan’s Operation TLC team high-fived as many NHS staff as possible in one morning to thank them for their continued support and to encourage others to become involved. As a result, staff were more open and interested in GAPs work when they were approached in the wards- with some people thanking us for the high-five gesture!

Send a text

Not all your employees will work behind a desk: don’t forget about them!

Participants in our business roundtables said that employee enthusiasm starts on a high and then dips. People can become distracted or disengaged, for example if they frequently travel for work, or if their workload increases.

Text message systems are a great alternative to email that can help you get the attention of people who aren’t in the office. 90% of text messages are opened within 3 minutes - so it’s a great way of getting your message out quickly.

Progammes like ‘TextMagic’ have relatively inexpensive services that offer worldwide coverage, longer text messages and an email to SMS function.

Just don’t rely on texts as a standalone tool – it’s better to use them in combination with an email or an infographic so you can really drive the message home.

Finally… emails can work!

Your emails don’t have to get lost - there are things you can do to make them stand out. We recently ran a programme for a
leading high street bank: an internal “Dragon’s Den” –style competition that asked colleagues to come up with energy saving ideas. One of the best ways of getting the message out was via email – because rather than doing a central mail-out, we asked everyone in the sustainability network to send a personal email to their teams.

Hopefully these ideas will give you a headstart in getting your colleagues’ attention – but we’d love to hear your success stories and techniques too.

In the next blog in our series, we’ll be looking at how to secure senior buy-in. If you’d like more support and ideas in the meantime, please get in touch – [email protected].