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Climate Week – the catalyst for change

03.02.2012

Climate Week provides a perfect opportunity to engage employees in environmental behaviour change. Based on 17 years' experience, here are a few simple steps from Global Action Plan to help ensure a successful campaign.

Find the brave souls who will start singing

Change in a business is like a choir. At the beginning there is silence. But one or two brave souls will start singing (often off key). Once they start singing it legitimizes the others to join in and sing along too. There will always be the smart ones in the back who mime their way through the whole thing.

For any business the challenge is to find the brave singers and give them the information, the confidence, the credibility and the space to get their message across and get the rest to join in. It is essential that your singers have credibility. To help this happen:

  1. You need a mixture of decision makers who can drive change through the company and enthusiasts
  2. If spreading change across your whole organisation seems too big a challenge to start with, choose one site or office to focus your efforts on

Crucially, ensure that you set out your expectations for the singers at the start and give them a clear timeframe within which to operate. This will stop your campaign from stagnating.

Be visual. Be creative. Fit your culture.

Be realistic with your expectations. Concentrate on specific behaviours that will bring long-term business benefits and that your MD or senior stakeholders will buy in to. Here are three examples from Global Action Plan’s work:

  • One bank built a five story tower of paper boxes in their atrium as a stark reminder of how much paper they throw away in the week. It became their iconic call to action.
  • Another company ran a Saints and Sinners campaign. Their champions went in one night attaching red balloons to equipment that had been left on and gold balloons to equipment that had been switched off. As people came in the morning they saw their office covered in balloons. As this was repeated the behavior across the company shifted and there was a mass of gold balloons.
  • MTV gave employees who had achieved something a green lolly pop. They were then given permission to stick out their green tongue at someone else in the organisation who wasn’t doing anything.

Remember this doesn’t just have to be with your employees – you can do this with your customers too. Reward and thank people for their work.

Run the campaign over a defined time frame and thank the employees for their efforts. All of Global Action Plan’s programmes are endorsed by UNEP. We measure at the beginning and the end and show the cumulative impact they’ve made giving all the ‘singers’ get a UNEP certificate.

The big principles to remember

  • People don’t always make rational decisions
  • Structure your program
  • Communicate a positive message
  • Be visual and interactive
  • Ensure your singers have sufficient information to respond to skeptics
  • Reward achievements

Find out more about how we can help you with your Climate Week event. 

This blog was originally written for 2degrees.