Communicating Workplace Sustainability Policy
Promoting workplace sustainability policy, including its expected outcome to key stakeholders
How are policies communicated within the organisation? In order for plans to become effective, information must be properly communicated to employees and clear in their explanation. Successful implementation of your sustainability policy is possible if it’s well communicated. Notice boards, flyers, emails and meetings are ways of promoting your sustainability policies.
It is beneficial to bring stakeholders on board and genuinely listen to their ideas. Their feedback can provide valuable information in formulating a successful sustainability policy. Take into consideration that they will be implementing your strategies and also be directly affected by them. If they feel you haven’t consulted them, then your policy has no chance of reaching its full potential. Now that you have developed workplace sustainability policy it is time to consider:
- How are policies to be communicated and promoted to key stakeholders including expected outcomes?
- What are the most appropriate methods of implementation?
- What are the activities that will be implemented?
- What are the expected outcomes of the policy?
In order for a policy to work, you need to create a widespread awareness within the organisation, including employees, customers and other key stakeholders. Some ways of communicating your policy might include:
- Publicly advertise your policy, e.g. website
- Make it available to the public on request, in a hard cop format
- Utilize staff meetings to present and discuss your policies
- Hang the policy in places where it will be seen:
- Your front office or reception
- In the staff room
- Notice board
- On posters
- Include the policy in workplace communications, staff/contractor induction
- Providing ongoing training related to policy implementation and expected outcomes
When communicating your policy and convincing people to change, you need to consider how your target audience might react. Will they embrace it openly or resist it? Any form of change is often met with skepticism or resistance.
Plan for this and work out strategies that will convince your stakeholders that it is a good idea. Work out beforehand ‘what it means for them and what benefits they might get out of it’. If you can work out the benefits for your key stakeholders you can present a win/win situation where the change is in the interest of both parties. This makes acceptance of the change much easier.
An organisational culture that embraces sustainability cannot be established overnight. It takes commitment, patience and persistence. Organisations that decide to make their businesses more
sustainable should plan to introduce the changes over a period of time and allow input from staff at all levels.
If you are charged with the responsibility of selling a change, your actions should be consistent and constant.
When promoting the ESP to key stakeholders, reinforce the benefits of the policy, including:
- the opportunity to extend the demographics and size of the organisation’s customer base by appealing to their social conscience
- shows clients that you are moving with the times and keeping pace with industry trends
- delivery of commitments will set a positive and proactive example to customers, suppliers, government agencies and the general community
- identification of corporate risks and actions to minimize these risks
- potential for reduction in insurance premiums and licensing fees from government agencies
- greater focus and control (improved operations and management)
- real potential for savings – for instance, energy, water and fuel
- opportunity for continuous improvement in environmental
Many of these benefits can be related to securing a competitive advantage. This type of information will be of particular interest to senior management, owners and the Board (if applicable).
An implementation plan is a strategic plan. It explains how to implement policy throughout the different levels of the business so the business can achieve its policy objectives. When creating an implementation plan you need to provide details of:
- start date and monitoring periods
- monitoring and measurement methods
- interpretation of data
- evaluation strategies
- key performance indicators
- roles and responsibilities
- continuous improvement strategies
- environmental committee roles, meeting schedules
- timelines and review periods
- communication plans, induction etc
- participant reward and recognition
Step-by-Step Process to an Implementation Plan
Implementation plans need to be completed in a methodological way. Nothing should be left out. Consider using the following steps.
First decide what your businesses sustainability policy should include. Think about conducting research:
- on the internet
- in trade and business magazines
- with people within your business
- on similar
- Develop policy options to put to stakeholders
When you develop a policy for sustainability it can cover many issues. These issues need to be clearly stated so all stakeholders can understand the scope of your policy. The many issues could include:
- energy reduction
- water conservation
- reuse and
When you develop your policy options you need to think about existing standard operating procedures in the business. Consider whether they clash with the sustainability policies you are developing.
Do some projects need to be implemented to achieve objectives? For example, if one of the policy objectives is to save water, does a water recycling system need to be developed?
What process needs to be followed so that the policy becomes a reality? For example, does a business case for a water recycling plant need to be developed before a policy to save x% of water can be considered?
Do existing practices within the business need to stop or be changed to successfully implement the policy? For example, do existing contractual arrangements with suppliers need to be examined to see if there is scope to change the purchasing of raw materials?
It is important to think about these issues so that all the information and implications of the policy are considered, costed and evaluated. Otherwise decisions are being made with insufficient information. This leads to sub-optimal outcomes.
- Which stakeholders do you need to involve in the process of consultation? What level of consultation would they want?
When your business implements a policy many different employees and other people will want to know how the policy is going to affect them. By thinking about the stakeholders and listing them you can make sure that you do not leave any out. It might also get you thinking about some of their concerns and viewpoints.
- Organised policy development stakeholder workshop
Think about involving stakeholders in a policy development workshop. This will have two benefits. First, a lot of great ideas and other policy options that you have not thought about may come out in the workshop. Also a policy is more likely to be successful if the people who will have to implement it in the business have been consulted about it from the outset.
- Develop a meeting agenda and run a stakeholder meeting
Consider developing an agenda for a meeting to present the research and the policy options you are considering. At this meeting you can think about setting up some of the institutions that may make the policy work in the business. For example, the environmental committee. It can also be an opportunity to get input from stakeholders on how to make the policy more effective.
- Develop and implement promotional strategy
After the stakeholder meeting you will need to develop a strategy for how you will promote the policy. You can have the best policy, but if no one knows about it, it will not be effective. You may want to think about targets and avenues for promotion.
Examples of key performance indicators that can be included in a sustainable manufacturing policy deployment
When you develop a sustainability policy it is important to have key performance indicators. These will be measured against the results of your policy. These could include:
- quantities of raw materials or energy used per production unit
- levels of emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide
- number and nature of environmental incidents and accidents
- percentage of waste re-used or recycled
- percentage of recycled material used in packaging
- investment in environmental protection or land set aside for biodiversity
- number of criminal prosecutions for environmental non-compliance
- levels of specific
Who develops the implementation plan?
Responsibility for developing the implementation plan and overseeing its unfolding will depend on the structure of the business. Sometimes this is undertaken at middle management level and sometimes at senior management level. Ideally, a committee will be formed to determine the scope of the policy and the best actions for the implementation. The sustainability committee should ensure feedback and input is received from every level of the business. Consultation is the key to a successful sustainability policy. This will ensure that the policy is not ‘imposed’ and will maximize far- reaching commitment to the aims of the policy.
Action plans and standard operating procedures
Depending on the scope of the policy and associated implementation plan, you might need to develop further planning documents to assist the transition to sustainable practice. For example, you might have to create a communication plan.
Other sub-plans that you may wish to develop include:
- evaluation plan
- green purchasing plan
- monitoring and measuring
These may simply be one-page documents. Such plans tease out finer details of the particular actions that arise from the policy, and help to ensure that the various aspects of implementation are
managed in a methodical way. They will include very specific and measurable actions.
Standard Operating Procedures
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) control routine activities in the workplace. They can be used to manage activities that have an environmental impact. SOPs may be included in the business’s existing procedure manuals. They are a component required under ISO 14000 environmental quality accreditation systems. SOPs identify what needs to be done, how it should be done, who should do it and when it should be done. Effectively, they are like a mini action plan for specific activities.
They may deal with (for example):
- chemical spills
- polluting emissions
- recycling procedures
- machinery use
- hazardous materials storage
- green procurement
- wastewater treatment
- handling and storage of raw materials
- handling and storage of waste
- reuse activities.