Sustainability Starts With Communicating Your Purpose Internally

  • 4 weeks ago
  • 5 Minutes to Read

Communicating purpose internally really gets us excited. It’s the best tool a business can own.

 

Here are some of our tips in how you can get your workplace enthused and striving for a better, more sustainable future.

 

Internal communications propositions which land in our inbox always make us feel like standing up and doing a little agency dance. Honestly, they really do 🕺🏾. 

They show true dedication to the sustainability-cause. If an organisation comes to us with an internal comms brief, we know this is one which truly wants to develop as a purpose-driven organisation, and it shows sustainability means more to them then just another way to market themselves. 

Funnily enough, even though we started out as an external communications agency – with a deep knowledge of how to engage customers, now around 40% of our time is focused in communicating social and environmental purpose internally.

 


Slide to see: our office, some of our team and the Purpose bible (with other great books):

Do Purpose | Why brands with a purpose do better and matter by David Hieatt. 

Why is this important?

Before we give you some things to consider, it’s important to start with the basics. This starts with your mission statement.

Simply put, a mission statement is a catchy piece of text to describe ‘why’ a company exists. It’s different to a vision statement which is a snapshot of ‘what’ the company wants to strive towards. And your company values? Well they are the core foundations of ‘how‘ you operate. 

The thing is, those catchy little statements aren’t very useful if you don’t communicate them to your team to implement in day to day business. 

We often say that mission / vision / values / tagline’s can seem pretty fluffy. Whilst more old-school thinkers might dismiss these as ‘millennial pieces of guff’, we know they’re absolutely vital for any purpose-driven brand. 

If you ask us, purpose, which ultimately is wrapped up in, and is the outcome of, a clear vision, mission and values is probably the most effective tool in business growth.

 

Why?

  • It aligns all stakeholders from employees to customers to investors in why the business exists. It’s an invisible north star. 

 

  • It motivates employees to go the extra mile, both attracting new talent and retaining great talent. Especially those young Gen Z / millennials who are changing the world ;D

 

  • Your company’s purpose statements make for great coffee room wall art… Just joking. As much as we’re a fan of making purpose visual, it’s more about the culture and feeling that purpose delivers in a workplace. You often can’t put a finger on it. It should become rooted through your company DNA, and as soon as an employee or client walks through the door, or when a customer interacts with anyone from your brand, this purpose should immediately shine through. 

 

Culture is everything, it has no monetary price tag. We’ll say it again, it’s the most important tool in business. 

 

We have a sustainability onboarding process for any potential client. 

Why? Because even pitch propositions which look like they are completely innovative and pioneering can turn out to mask dirty secrets. Internal communications really helps show they care and aren’t doing it for a snappy press release. 

So how do you communicate purpose internally?

We’re glad you asked. 

 

This isn’t something you can do overnight. You can’t just pick it up and put it down, it needs constant work to perfect and evolve. Also, our purpose can’t just be led by the business leader(s), it needs to run through everyone in the company. Though it’s vital the leaders set the example. 

 

1. Create a sustainability team / council / superhero clan. Meet-up monthly and have written, actionable and traceable action plans. 

 

2. Make it visual. Make it creative. Make it engaging. From a video series for your company intranet (hmmmm… I wonder who offers that service?) to wooden pie charts showing the single-use plastic savings you’ve made in the last quarter. People like visuals, not lengthy reports.

 

3. Create reports. Ok so we just said employees don’t like lengthy reports. The thing is this is your bible for traceability year on year. What’s great about a report is that it shows you’re thinking about all angles of sustainability. Whether that be SDGs, GRI Frameworks or just a public statement to look into social, environmental and economic facilities of the business. This central hub of research demonstrates transparency and gives a great starting place to repurpose the findings into bite-sized content to share internally (and externally once your company is enthused and understands your ‘why’).

 

4. Provide incentives. Who doesn’t like praise, giving back and free stuff? We know we do. Has someone been a superhero in mobilising volunteering or charity, perhaps someone just hit a month-long streak of cycling into work or your sales team started a plant-based lunch club on a Friday. Congratulate them with time off, experiences or a simple pat on the back for being eco pioneer legends.

 

5. Talk about sustainability without hyper-inflating your efforts. Look nobody is perfect. The nature of business isn’t good for the planet. Transparency is a core value of sustainability and if you only talk about the great things you’re achieving then you can’t focus on elements that can be improved. The chances are, employees (and therefore customers) can also probably see through the greenwash. 

 

6. Provide training so employees actually understand sustainability. From Diversity, Equity & Inclusion training to Carbon Literacy. There are brilliant courses which enthuse employees in a new way of business. You’d be surprised the knock-on effect in employees personal lives post-training. At the very least, you should have an eco book pile for the team to access. If you’re looking for some inspo, message us for our book recommendations, we have tonnes.

 

7. Don’t be scared of using other mediums of communications. 100% utilise infrastructures like company newsletters, intranets and meetings to talk about sustainability and purpose. But what about a company eco-pub quiz, your email signatures, physical assets across the office, a nature away day, a company litter pick or an event which showcases the company’s purpose through videos, keynote speeches and music. Engagement is key.

 

8. Make things public when you’re ready. And we’re not talking a campaign to humblebrag about how you’re the best company in your industry. We’re talking about a section within your website like a sustainability hub or purpose corner to document your plans, your achievements and most importantly your losses (and where you want to improve year on year). By doing this and demonstrating transparency your workforce will understand you’re “fo-real” and not just doing it to tick tenures or making investors happy. (They are other benefits though…)

 

Do the team live by our values and how do we know if we’re going off track?

Do this test. Write down your core values and get your team to answer if you’ve lived those values that afternoon, day or week on a Friday (or any other day) by answering with examples. If everyone’s using the same values or examples you’ll see areas you’ll want to inject some inspiration too. And if they don’t know the values then more work is definitely needed.

Tip: why not use your values as a basis for employee appraisals. Then your team will know areas they can focus on, double down on or improve with specific examples.

Purpose is everywhere and it doesn’t matter if you’re a startup or a multinational, it’s often the one thing business leaders want to inject across an organisation and aspire to have. We’ll tell you a secret. There’s never the right time to work on purpose, there’s always those emails to respond too or a presentation to create, but it’s all about making a start. Just carve out some time and start using these steps now. You won’t be disappointed. 

 

Have you got any thoughts?

Why should you listen to us lot then? Well, this is just a snapshot of thoughts. Enviral has two foundations – Evolve and Engage. Simply put Evolve is our consultancy where we evolve organisations purpose & sustainability roadmaps, and Engage is our marketing agency product where we engage employees, customers and fans with your purpose through digital content, digital advertisement, PR and strategy. 

Our Mission is to effectively communicate purpose to the world so we can achieve our vision that all brands will prioritise social and environmental sustainability in all business decisions.

Thanks for reading.

Joss 🌳

Get in touch via joss@enviral.co.uk / hello@enviral.co.uk

 

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Enviral