Involving your team in your corporate and social responsibility plans: As entrepreneurs and business owners, many of us are used to juggling a million great ideas in our heads. Whether it’s a new idea for increasing cashflow, or the implementation of a new policy, sometimes we can push ahead with changes and wonder why it’s taking our team so long to catch up with us.
When it comes to hitting environmental goals, here are some simple ways to get everyone on board and working together for the good of our planet.
1. Find their why. Anybody who has ever watched a talk by Simon Sinek will be familiar with the concept of having a strong ‘why’ for doing the things we do. In business and in life this is a key for success. People protect the things they love- for me, being waste wise has a lot to do with my love of animals and particularly marine life, as a keen diver. Your staff may be more motivated by creating a better future for their kids, having clean trails to walk on, learning something new or even a financial incentive for hitting a key waste reduction goal and saving the business money. Finding each individual ‘why’ will enable you to tailor some waste reduction goals to them, hopefully increasing their work satisfaction as a whole.
2. Allow time for change. As the Owner of a relatively new business, I am constantly tweaking and updating systems and procedures, which can be overwhelming for staff if they are bombarded with everything at once. I definitely don’t want our environmental goals to be another ‘burden’. I’ve received several pieces of advice to help avoid this. Firstly, in the weekly team meeting, pick one policy, procedure or value to review. Ask your staff to ‘rate how we are doing on this’, followed by, ‘how can we do better.’ It’s important to listen to responses with curiosity and non judgement- not everybody is ready for multiple frequent changes in the workplace, so ensure you create an achievable plan with your team to reach your waste wise goals. The second useful piece of advice for ALL of us is that there’s no point in waiting for a system to be perfect before implementing it! If we make mistakes at the beginning, that’s fine- at least we’ve started the process!
3. Offer paid work time for volunteering on environmental causes/ involve staff in discussions on choosing causes. This year I asked my staff to discuss themselves if they’d like to participate in Clean Up Australia Day- they organised a time and date, I suggested a place and my awesome practice manager registered us online. We are already planning a team lunch to one of the CFWR lunches later in the year.
4. Lead by example. We have a kitchen shelf full of work branded keep cups, which I’ll always use when buying coffee for the team or myself. I turn off air conditioners and lights in rooms not being used and I personally bring all the Redcycle Plastic recycling from the clinic to a Coles or Woolworths drop off. When my staff start working for me, I advise them that as a small business, I don’t believe it’s ‘not my job’ to empty a bin, etc. As I’m passionate about the environment, it’s not difficult for me to show this.
5. Collaborate. My staff are probably sick of listening to me talking about quarterly goals, but goal setting does offer a great chance to reflect on what we’ve done for our corporate and social responsibility values, as well as setting goals for the next quarter. Through collaboration and delegation of key tasks and projects to the correct people, we’ve managed to systemise a lot of our client journey to being paperless- including online exercise programs, new client forms, referral partner books and more. We also use a phone app to communicate within the team quickly and easily- trying to cut out death by post it notes!
A beautiful thing about business ownership for me is our capacity to affect positive social change. I’d love to hear how many of you have managed to lead your team or others towards achieving positive environmental outcomes!
Suzanne Rath is a physiotherapist and the owner of Wellness Embodied Cairns.