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Lack of confidence in sustainability strategies

Over three quarters (78%) of employees lack confidence in sustainability strategies their employers have in place and find it hard to communicate these effectively says the AimHi Earth team who surveyed 1,727 professionals between 2022 and 2024 for their recent report…

Employees lack confidence to apply sustainability strategies

Nearly all employees (93%) reported that they lack the confidence to apply their organisation’s sustainability strategy in their day-to-day work,

More than eight in 10 (88%) respondents said that they did not believe sustainability was critical for their department, while 70% claimed that they lack belief their personal actions could make a difference at work.

Sarah Humphrys, co-founder of AimHi Earth, suggested that education was essential to empower employees to understand the potential of organisational sustainability strategy.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “The most important first step in any sustainability strategy, regardless of the roles you’re working with, is to empower everyone across the company with a foundational understanding of key climate concepts and a shared language to talk about it.

“This will ground employees with the key principles needed to make good decisions, ask powerful questions, and apply their learnings into their own roles.”

We are not impressed by our employer’s climate actions

The AimHi Earth research also showed that more than three quarters (77%) of people were unhappy about their employers’ lack of climate action, while 55% said that their organisation was likely to greenwash.

However, 78% of employees lacked confidence in communicating their company’s sustainability strategy. Around half (55%) admitted that they only knew enough to communicate about climate and sustainability superficially, or they didn’t know where to begin.

Sustainability training would be most effective in large groups

Humphrys added: “HR can give employees confidence by creating opportunities to learn about these topics in large groups. Exploring these new topics together and debunking shared misconceptions assuages guilt, ensures acceptance and assimilation of new concepts and builds a sense of community.

“This is how social norms change, and how employees gain the confidence to put their employers’ sustainability strategy into practice.”

Separate research by employee experience business CultureAmp (11 April) found that employees’ positive perception of their organisation’s commitment to sustainability boosted engagement by 16%.

Sustainability training and education could also highlight the benefits of the organisation’s sustainability strategy and encourage participation in initiatives, commented Gavin Scarr-Hall, health and safety director at the consultancy Peninsula.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “Organisations can encourage and support employees to take part in sustainability initiatives like recycling and local community projects. Highlighting the benefits of the sustainability strategy can also help to improve employee confidence, such as cost savings, learning new skills and boosting efficiency.”

Scarr-Hall noted that employers should consider how different roles can implement sustainability strategy in their work.

He added: “Businesses should consider the impact of different roles in the organisation on sustainability and how challenges can be overcome, taking account of issues such as waste disposal and recycling, hazards from operating processes, vehicle emissions, energy consumption, and paper usage.”

We can measure employees’ engagement with the sustainability strategy through surveys and focus groups, he continued: “Carrying out regular staff surveys and holding employee focus groups are some of the ways that businesses can measure employees’ engagement with their sustainability strategy.”