New decade – Same message?

As sustainability professionals, staff engagement is at the centre of everything we do.  We recognise that our people are our greatest asset.  If they aren’t on board with our aspirations to improve the efficiency and sustainability of our organisation, attitudes can wain and consequently we can struggle to meet KPIs, or experience a plateau of resistance.

To gain impetus it’s important to evaluate what worked and what didn’t work so we can plan for even better results in the future.  Moving into 2020 provides an opportunity to reflect on our achievements and ask, “What sustainable actions has our organisation taken since 2010”? 

You may not have been in your current post in 2010, but to build on the momentum and celebrate achievements during the past 10 years, try this activity to kick start the new decade and demonstrate to those who matter just how far you’ve come.

Identify a few members of staff who were with your organisation in 2010.  Choose a cross section from different departments and ages (some may have been apprentices back then, and some will be in different roles to where they are now).  It’s also important to invite staff who have been in the same role or department too, plus representatives from your maintenance department or housekeeping/security, as they will provide a different perspective. 

Your objective is to look back and discover how things have changed. 

How did things look then? 

What are you doing differently now? 

This activity will work best as a workshop, as it’s important for folks to stimulate memories and build community.  It could also be completed online as a questionnaire, or as a webinar using Zoom, Skype or similar platforms.

Read on to deliver your workshop or click below to download it as a free resource.

Start by setting the scene for 2010

Highlight some meaningful events to both your audience and your organisation, e.g. 2010 may  have seen the introduction of a new product, a premise move, or merger with another company.

Here are a few memory joggers to start you off: 

  • The UK Prime Minister changed from Gordon Brown to David Cameron
  • Major snowfalls across the UK at the end of 2009/start of 2010
  • BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and ensuing oil pollution
  • The year of the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud & Haiti earthquake

You will also need some background company information. I would suggest:

  • 2010 turnover/and or productivity figures and headcount to create a baseline
  • KWh of power used that year, and if possible what KPIs had been set
  • Amount of water used  
  • Waste disposal figures – depending on how these were recorded/reported then (use tonnages if possible).  Also what were the waste disposal options then?

Collate the information onto a sheet, against the most up to date figures that you have.   You might like to turn it into a quiz with those in the room, or to the wider workforce with prizes up for grabs.  Never miss an opportunity to market sustainability!

OK, so you have everything planned. 

Set people into small groups, with a flipchart to capture information on. 

Next, set your questions.

Ask questions poignant to your organisation. Create questions that will be meaningful and provide you with usable data.  Highlight any linked messages which you would like to be takeaways for those involved. (e.g. productivity increase following  installation of new equipment).

Pose these questions to the groups for discussion and ask them to collate their answers on the flipcharts.   Don’t forget to take photos for your newsletter and to include them when promoting the findings!

Here are some question suggestions:

How many sustainability activities have been introduced in our organisation since 2010? Which have made the biggest  impact?

  • Name 3 ways of working which have altered?  What effect have these had?
  • What external influences have there been on our organisation over the past 10 years? *these could be supply chain pressures, rising costs of materials, shortage of skilled staff, new process permits, robotics/automation.
  • What changes have occurred within our community, the surrounding area and how do we interact as an organisation now compared to 2010?
  • What is your perception of the quality of our work compared to 10 years ago?
  • What is your perception of the efficiency of our organisation compared to 2010?

Now it’s your turn. Add meaningful questions which will provide you with great feedback opportunities!

You can also download the Sustainability Steering Wheel tool and use it as a prompt.

Review and celebrate the results

The past decade may well demonstrate a celebration in utilities, waste disposal and carbon reductions, through the introduction of alternative processes or use of renewable energy.

To make the data meaningful it is important to naturalise it against a baseline. 

If your utilities have risen, has your productivity, or your headcount? 

If you have had experienced a reduction but have outsourced processes, what is the information really saying?   

Whatever the outcome, draw together the findings, and celebrate the results.  Use these to publicise the difference a decade makes, and report out to the workforce and other Stakeholders. 

If negative issues arise, use this opportunity to discuss and develop ways to improve things. 

Last of all, have fun.  Use this as a reflection of what has been, to help shape the next 10 years.