Sustainability Knowledge

knowledgeIf your people don’t know how to do their job “more sustainably” it is difficult for them to engage in sustainability initiatives. Knowing the sustainability issues relevant to the organisation, and how to make their actions count, is an essential ingredient for employees to get on board with sustainability.

Research on this enabler…

  • King Fahad National Guard Hospital tackled the problem of medical waste with a big emphasis on understanding and addressing staff knowledge in the area, and reduced such waste by 58%
  • A study into recycling of batteries found that knowledge of recycling was the strongest determinant of whether or not people disposed of the batteries responsibly
  • Research into barriers to office recycling found a “significant association between those who do not recycle and those who are not clear what bins to use”

Strategies for improving this enabler…

  • Conduct a training needs analysis specific to sustainability. What do you people need to know in order to contribute to the sustainability vision?
  • Run regular “lunch-and-learn” sessions on interesting sustainability topics, such as energy saving and food miles. Make them short, fun and interactive
  • Consider including a field in everyone’s personal development plan for something they will learn about sustainability
  • Post short sustainability tips around office. Colourful, engaging and supported by an eye-opening statistic works best
  • Ensure your facilities to support sustainability include clear instructions and visual cues.  There is a whole field of best practice on the best layout and type of information to support action.

Best Practice Examples…

  • The National Park Service Intermountain Region (IMR) partnered with the University of Arizona, to assess climate change training needs for over 5,000 IMR employees. There is a downloadable report of the training needs analysis on the web page.
  • HP’s Sustainability Network consists of over 10,000 employees worldwide who teach each other and share environmental practices that can positively impact the business and the planet
  • In an article on The Role of HR in Achieving a Sustainability Culture, Jay Liebowitz describes how Rio Tinto Alcan requires all employees and all of the top 800 managers, including the CEO, take a four-day training program on environmental, health and safety issues
  • Indian conglomerate Tata embeds sustainability into all of its 250 training courses delivered by the Tata Management Training Centre

How Awake can help…

  • Awake can help to design and deliver basic sustainability training to your staff in a way which is engaging and gives them the tools for action and behaviour change
  • Use the Sustainability Culture Indicator to evaluate the extent to which your employees feel they know how to incorporate sustainability into their jobs, and compare the results with other organisations. Written comments items also let you know where the gaps are and where you need to focus your sustainability training efforts

Other useful resources…