Using Employees to “Do” Sustainability
Sustainability is a grand idea and often involves a grand plan. The question remains- how do you do it? How do you enact sustainability in your business on a daily basis so that you can hit your goals and collect your data? The same way you get all of your other work done. Hint: your employees. Assign tasks, encourage feedback and sharing goals and results are all part of engaging employees in your small business. Check out the Playbook if you’re a restaurant owner. It’s chock full of ways to engage employees.
1. Assign tasks
The key to sustainability is to assign it to employees as part of daily job tasks. The restaurant manager opening the restaurant for the day would add sustainability items to his open checklist. Vendor discussion and practice in an office would take into account compostable cups or fair-trade purchasing. The marketing manager would incorporate sustainability messaging into branding templates or Instagram campaigns. Employees should take on sustainability tasks related to their existing job function.
2. Encourage feedback and communication
Ask employees for feedback after completing these extra steps. Ask what they like or do not like and how it affects their daily work. It might take a couple tries to get the correct flow or assignment for an item. Adjust these tasks as you hear from employees. If an employee is not happy with something, they wont complete it and you will not hit your goals.
3. Have a sustainability team but don’t isolate tasks to them
An in-house “sustainability team” is great for motivation, brainstorming, and communication. Do not isolate tasks to them. Do not, do not, do not, please do not. Each employee should be playing a role in sustainability. So what does the sustainability team do? They engage employees and see how tasks are going, they come up with the tasks, share and track goals and they are available for trouble shooting. They brainstorm new ideas, train new employees and figure out how to celebrate sustainability wins.
4. Share wins and results
Communicate how sustainability is going. Share wins and engagement over email or in person. Share this company wide so everyone knows how impact and daily tasks affect the company’s goals. Shoutout one person’s contribution each month. I recommend providing monthly updates in a way that makes sense for your business. Tailor this communication to how you communicate other company news- all hands calls or emails.
5. Set and share goals
A great way to encourage employees to get things done is to set goals. Collective goals motivate employees. Include employees as part of goal setting. Set goals by initiative, or department. Again, look at how you set goals for other parts of the business. Mimic that goal setting. Each employee should know what goal their task is working toward, progress toward it and completion.