It’s no new concept that sustainability can make our organisations, communities and planet much better places. But today, as organisations hone their strategies around greenhouse gases and energy use, it’s clearer than ever that well-trained, committed employees will make a huge difference. Training programs come in all shapes and sizes—and the behaviours employees learn they can apply at home as well.
How can you approach and initiate sustainability training for your staff? It’s a complex topic to tackle if you’re starting from scratch. Here’s a guide to making it happen successfully, along with the key features to look for when choosing sustainability learning programmes for employees.
Choose Programmes Accredited by Trusted Sources
Accreditation offers reassurance that communicates environmental knowledge and skills via a third party. A good place to verify this is The CPD Verification Service, which takes an active role in Continuing Professional Development (hence the acronym).
You can find their list of accredited courses via cpduk.co.uk. Another trustworthy source is the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA). Their virtual classroom offerings range from Environmental Management in Construction to Leading with Environmental Sustainability. As an accredited IEMA partner, Rio offers a suite of IEMA accredited courses, you can view them below and get in touch with any questions.
Make Sure the Programme Empowers Your Team and Yourself
We can't stress it enough: For sustainability strategy training to succeed, it must connect with employees on three different levels. Those are cognitive, emotional, and social. What does that mean? First, employees must learn and grasp the significance of good sustainability habits and behaviours. Second, that head knowledge must link to heart knowledge—the realisation that an imperilled planet demands action and that their actions can and will have a vital impact that can be measured environmentally and financially. Finally, workers who belong to a larger sustainability effort, both in and outside the workplace, become part of a larger movement that serves a greater good.
Put it all together and that spells empowerment. It also leads to lasting behaviour changes that align ideally with your company’s larger efforts in carbon reduction, net zero and social value.
Make Sustainability Achievable
Just as in any business endeavour, you can manage it if you can measure it. Setting key performance indicators (KPIs) enable your team to track progress, hit milestones and reach sustainability goals. It’s important to remember that employee learning focuses on results and not just the problem at hand.
But you can’t hit these marks unless you identify tangible actions your organization can take in the short and long term.
Here's what you'll want to consider:
- How does sustainability look for different departments? From operations to marketing, the approach and applicability of sustainability will differ and the training should reflect this.
- What are the clearest paths to get employees from learning to action? Here you might ask for their input, especially once they've connected on the cognitive and emotional levels.
- Which sustainability actions apply from your broadest to most focused levels—from corporation wide to the individual?
- What tools do you provide? Training marks a great first step. Beyond this, you’ll want to get a grip on how your technology and physical operations (e.g. offices, factories, etc) make sustainability actions easy to execute.
Make sure your supporting materials include visual and text components, and that your videos are captioned for easy reading or utilise text to voice for learners that may need support. Keep in mind also that people learn in different ways, often in combination. Those are captured in the VARK acronym:
V = Visual learners process information through charts, graphs and images
A = Auditory learners best retain and recall spoken information
R = Read (and write) learners enjoy reading and written words
K = Kinesthetic learners prefer to “take part” and experiment
No matter the methodology or learning tool, make sure the user experience is seamless and that learnings are flexible, taking into account busy schedules.
Keep Up with New Information
Sustainability in action is a moving target. What applied even a decade ago has since far advanced in effectiveness and execution. To keep corporate sustainability training up to date, follow sustainability news and advancements. Accredited free online sustainability training should help you in this task. You’ll want to ask how often data is updated and new modules are made available, for example.
As you tackle employee sustainability training, Rio Engage is there to ensure your success on every level. These are unprecedented times; for our planet, for the way we work, and for how we engage with staff. At Rio, our mission is to make sustainability accessible for everyone. We have a library of over 120 learning modules available at no cost. It's a great place to upskill yourself and staff while working from home, nail down some elusive CPD points or just learn generally about the SDGs, the Circular Economy and all things sustainability.
Even more, if you are looking for premium content, our suite of IEMA courses such as the IEMA Foundation Certificate in Environmental Management and the IEMA Sustainability Skills for the Workforce may be a fit for your learning goals.