Incept Sustainability

Implementing sustainability from the bottom up

1/3 This article is the first installment of a three-part article series on utilising digital learning and analytics for a successful sustainability transformation. 

We would like to invite you to follow this three-part series where we discuss the benefits of engaging and empowering your employees to support sustainable change projects. We will take a look at some of the methods companies should be considering when implementing sustainability, the business case, and give practical examples of how Incept Sustainability facilitates employee engagement and ownership of the change.

Starting with The Bottom-Up Approach and answering the question of why implementing sustainability from the bottom up stands a better chance of success?

Importance of support in the face of change

Truly, change is difficult and as creatures of habit people often resist company’s transformation efforts. A McKinsey study found that only 26% of transformation initiatives succeed, and that includes sustainable change projects. Unsurprisingly, the study highlighted that the most successful transformations drive change through empowerment, instead of mandating from the top.

To help your team overcome resistance to change, it is important not only to tell them change is coming, but explaining why and including them in the process. Inviting people to have a voice in the changes that impact them typically lowers resistance.

Whether you are operating a small office space or a large warehouse facility undergoing sustainability implementation, digital learning and analytics have a lot to offer when it comes to building employee support for change. By providing a learning opportunity, you can educate your team on the subject while using data collection to identify new opportunities.

Anchoring changes in the company culture

Using bottom-up digital learning and analytics in workplaces is not only an effective way to build support; the method of bottom-up anchors changes in the company culture. The importance of fostering sustainability in the culture has been a trending topic in the last years. The reason being; leaders understand the importance of a supportive culture to better incorporate sustainability into strategy and operations. They understand the need for organisational members that hold shared assumptions and beliefs about the importance of balancing economic efficiency, social equity, and environmental accountability. 

“…culture eats strategy for breakfast, and lunch and dinner…”

Mark Fields, former CEO of Ford

Methods that have gained support aim to create an understanding of the sustainability imperative and engage and involve employees in decision making. 

Therefore, if your company is implementing sustainable change projects then ask yourself, am I taking the necessary actions to educate my teams on the what’s and why’s of sustainability and motivating them to make a positive impact?

Empowered employees identify opportunities

If education and involvement are a recipe for support, then active listening is what empowers action. 

Empowerment is a common buzzword these days but when done right can be pretty powerful. People must believe they can contribute meaningfully, not only by having the knowledge and competence, but the power to make an impact. 

No matter the size of your team or the field you are in, everyone can contribute to a good cause when given the opportunity. People that feel heard and know the importance of their feedback are empowered to take ownership. By really listening and noting your team’s opinion can uncover hidden pain points, presenting opportunities that otherwise might be missed.

Your team should feel their perspective is valuable and more importantly, treating it as the valuable resource it is can help evolve the new ways of doing things. Bringing us to the last piece of the puzzle; data collection. 

Feedback in action creates ownership

Your employees are the experts and that is why you hired them. At all organisational levels, you have people from different backgrounds with different expertise that provide your company with value every day. Bringing sustainability into the equation should be treated no differently. Ideas, feedback, and action should be embraced and employees need to be made aware that their opinion matters. 

Going from involvement to empowerment means having a system in place to collect feedback with the purpose to set it in motion. Engaging people in the process of implementing sustainability helps build ownership in the change and as much as 78% of employees say they would like to help their company develop their responsibility strategy. The personal gratification and satisfaction come from making progress on a good cause.

Remember that there is a difference between giving feedback and feeling heard. Those that feel heard are the ones that see their ideas in action. Seeing that they have the power to make an impact increases commitment, giving you a much greater chance of a successful implementation. 

Learn more

Incorporating a bottom-up approach for implementing sustainability in your company stands a better chance of success due to the involvement and support of your teams executing the strategy. 

One way to implement sustainability from the bottom-up is with the digital learning and analytics software from Incept Sustainability. The software is a data collection focused e-learning, designed to help increase internal engagement and analyse key sustainability challenges with a core focus on increasing the impact and success rate for sustainable change projects. You can read more about what we offer here.

Stay tuned for our next blog in the series, focusing on why the people side of change management is important for sustainability and how to utilise digital learning and analytics for successful sustainability change projects. If you would like to try a demo-version of the tool in the meantime, do not hesitate to contact us or to book a demo.