Sustainability Adoption – A Journey Towards Employee Empowerment

Organizational change management can drive employees’ adoption of corporate sustainability programs. In this podcast, Frederic Beynel talks about the various dimensions and activities around sustainability and employee empowerment.

Podcast Audio Transcript

Alisha: Hello listeners, this is Alisha; thank you for tuning in to yet another exciting and informative podcast from us at Infosys BPM. Today, we are discussing on sustainability adoption – a journey towards employee empowerment. And to talk about this, we have here with us, Frederic Beynel, Senior Industry Principal - Organizational Change Management. Welcome Frederic. How are you?

Frederic: I’m doing great, Alisha. Thank you for having me on this podcast.

Alisha: Frederic, when we talk about sustainability in an organizational setting, a major factor is that it’s enforced by the top management, but not necessarily understood or adopted by all employees. Why does this divide exist?

Frederic: That’s quite true, Alisha. Sustainability is an important concept that captures the idea of taking care of our planet and people through virtuous business models. Firstly, all employees may not be familiar with the scope of their company’s strategy in terms of sustainability. According to a recent study, we can see that 75% of management is convinced to implement a sustainable business plan and deploy the right practices to promote this.

On the other hand, 65% of employees believe that sustainability goals of their organizations are unrealistic, and they are not empowered to lead these tasks. So, you can see there is a clear perception gap. We need to mitigate this gap to ensure that sustainability objectives are aligned and progressive.

Alisha: That’s quite a big gap. What can organizational change management do to mitigate this and bring a shared vision?

Frederic: Organizational change management can drive employees’ adoption of corporate sustainability programs. We have a framework for this which has four key steps:

Firstly, top management needs to share a vision that is intelligible and emotional. They need to make the strategy clear and understood by all employees. This encompasses three dimensions, which are:

  1. Environmental issue mitigation (for instance, climate change and loss of biodiversity)
  2. Social goals (which include human rights and diversity & inclusion)
  3. Economic aspects (typically, fair trade and raw material sourcing).
A good way to sharpen this vision, is by conducting workshops with leaders, sustainability sponsors, and subject matter experts.

Secondly, we need to disseminate the vision and communicate the results honestly, and with impact. This can be done by the middle management, leveraging communication kits that include presentations, FAQs, and other artifacts. The message must be clear, concise, and standardized for all employees.

The third step is upskilling and training employees to drive their awareness and accelerate the adoption of organizational practices. The prerequisite for this, is to build a competency framework, defining the knowledge and a set of behaviours that align with the objectives of the company. The final step of our framework deals with engaging collaborators. Once trained, employees can play their part. They can contribute to innovation and ideation platforms to co-create sustainability projects. You can add gamification and challenges to strengthen employee engagement.

Alisha: I agree, Frederic. These steps can be quite engaging for employees.

Could you give examples of how gamification and challenges are effective in promoting sustainability?

Frederic: Absolutely. Infosys developed a climate challenge game in association with the Financial Times, titled “Can you reach net zero by 2050?” It’s a game structured across 3 rounds with the aim of reducing the effects of carbon emissions and pollution on Earth. Within 11 months of its creation, the game already has half a million views, and it enjoys over 25000 daily players. You can check out this game on the Financial Times.

Another example is about how to enhance digital frugality among employees, as a sustainability routine. For instance, an application can be developed to propose healthy challenges among employees to foster sustainable habits. As an example, you can set up “digital frugality days”, which can involve cleaning mailboxes and clearing the data stored. The winner of this challenge can share advice and best practices with other participants.

Alisha: I can see the benefits of these techniques.

Are there any conditions or prerequisites for the success of this sustainability framework?

Frederic: Good question. Yes, there are some important prerequisites.

The first one is, you need to build a community of sustainability, or green champions. These are people who show genuine interest in the topic of sustainability. They should perform activities like:

  • Create learning content on sustainability
  • Sensitize and train employees on sustainability at work
  • Launch employee surveys to gather feedback
  • Feed new sustainability ideas to the management

The second one is that you need to ensure that these champions are part of the governance. To be effective, the governance should have clear roles and responsibilities for the involved stakeholders.

Organizations should ideally have a chief sustainability officer to lead the change, along with champions who can drive the initiatives. But you can also involve external advisory groups to provide expertise and outside perspectives on Environmental, Social and Governance issues.

Lastly, HR and management should align on the employee engagement strategy, across the areas of recruitment, onboarding, performance & compensation, learning, opportunities, and workplace.

Alisha: I agree, Frederic. Thank you for providing such an in-depth and effective sustainability framework that organizations can follow. Thank you for being part of our podcast today.

Frederic: It was a pleasure, Alisha.

Alisha: Dear listeners, if you enjoyed our podcast today, please don’t forget to share and like it on social media. Our social handles are mentioned in the podcast page. The podcast will be available on various platforms like Google Podcasts and Spotify, in addition to our website.

Also, if you have any queries, do reach out to us through the email address on the podcast description. Watch this space for more exciting podcasts coming up. Once again, thank you for tuning in, stay safe, sharp, and healthy. Have a nice day!

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