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Why sustainability needs to be a focus of post-pandemic internal communications

Sustainability will be a non-negotiable priority in the new world of work. By exploring the key insights from our latest report, Future of the Sustainable Workplace, your internal comms team can launch new messaging strategies that will align your workforce as you build a better tomorrow.

Employee using an internal comms system on his company intranet whilst standing in a sustainable green house

Sustainability is the focus of a post-COVID world

As the world rebounds from a tumultuous year, we’re afforded a golden opportunity for economies, industries, and businesses to return not just to business as usual, but to a better place than we ever have been.

Just as we began to settle into our socially distanced lives in early 2020, videos started to emerge that seemed to show the natural world reacting to life with less human activity. Air pollution markedly dropped. The canals in Venice ran clear for the first time in hundreds of years. Nature was healing.

These images were a stark reminder of the damage we cause, but also of the uncanny speed at which nature can recover. Rather than doom and gloom, this gives us renewed hope that it is not too late for us to turn this challenging time into an opportunity to make lasting change for generations to come.

"With this restart, a window of hope and opportunity opens. An opportunity for green recovery that shapes the 21st-century economy in ways that are clean, green, healthy, safe, and more resilient"

Patricia Espinosa - UN Climate Chief

Green recovery, as coined by the United Nations, encourages governments and enterprises to “build back better” as we look to tackle what they call a climate emergency. Just like millions of others around the world, Unily views this critical time as an opportunity. To that end, we have partnered with renowned sustainability expert, Dr. Leyla Acaroglu, to produce the Future of the Sustainable Workplace In the Age of COVID-19 and Climate Change to examine exactly what can be done to make our workplaces environmentally positive. 

Unily Future of the Sustainable Workplace Guide front cover

Future of the sustainable workplace in the age of COVID-19 and climate change

We are living in a time of great and immediate change. COVID-19 and climate change are just two of the most obvious forces impacting our way of life. With mass disruptions promising to transform how we work and live, sustainability is rising on the global agenda. Discover how the pandemic is presenting new opportunities to accelerate the transition to sustainable workplaces in our newly released report.

Download guide

What is internal comms role in supporting sustainability at work?

From IT to HR, every department will play a role in making your organization's vision for a more sustainable future come to life. When it comes to internal comms, expect your team to step into the spotlight.

Many internal comms employees have noted increased visibility in light of COVID-19; as many as two thirds of industry respondents believe leadership now looks to them more frequently for guidance. This trend is likely to continue on as your organization devises new ways of working and adapts to your next normal. It is internal comms who will get the word out on the changes your employer is making, how colleagues can get involved, and your enterprise's goals for the future.

Everything internal communicators need to know about sustainability in the workplace

As sustainability rises towards the top of your enterprise’s agenda, expect your colleagues to turn to an internal comms system for updates and opportunities to actively shape your organization’s future. To prepare for heightened interest levels, we’ve summarized the top five insights for internal comms leaders from our report and included them below:

#1. Sustainability is a rising priority

There’s no denying that sustainability is emerging as a shared action point amongst organizations in every industry and region. Our own report reveals that 83% of respondents believe COVID-19 has made an environmentally friendly workplace more important.

With nearly two-thirds of respondents indicating that they want to work for a sustainable employer, it’s evident that organizations need to emphasize their commitment to environmental awareness. Internal comms teams can spread the word on what their enterprise is doing to work towards carbon neutrality by creating content around your sustainability goals and spotlighting environmentally active colleagues who are leading the way.

#2. Information is needed to connect the dots

While it’s evident that sustainability is a workplace priority, many employees are far less clear about what their organization is doing to make an impact. Findings from our report indicate that only 16% of respondents believe that their employers have clearly communicated their sustainability policies.

Similarly, our Unily 2020 Census reveals that 57% of employees need more information on their company’s environmental goals. As the go-to source for company news, internal comms teams can bridge the gaps and ensure every employee knows exactly what their organization is doing to fight climate change. From email newsletters to video content that explains your sustainability goals, take advantage of multiple mediums to keep your colleagues informed and aligned.

#3. Bolster engagement by focusing in on values

Many savvy internal comms teams understand the power that lies in data surrounding employee experience. When you’re trying to prove the efficacy of your comms strategy, you’re likely to look towards statistics on engagement to demonstrate the value of your approach.

If you’re searching for a sure-fire way to drive engagement, look no further than a focus on workplace sustainability. More than one third of employees note that they are motivated by an organization’s mission and purpose, with a preference for those who have environmental and social concerns. Consequently, internal comms teams that publicize how their organization is making strides towards sustainability are likely reap impressive engagement statistics as a result of their efforts.

Unily census 2020

#4. A look towards leadership

During the pandemic’s height, many internal comms teams emphasized messaging from leadership to maintain morale and create a sense of transparency amongst all colleagues. A similar eye towards leadership communications can prove beneficial when it comes to spreading the word on your enterprise’s approach to sustainability.

As noted in our report, “The leaders of the present and future will be defined by how they pioneer change within their organization today.” While your leadership team is responsible for building the foundation for a more sustainable future, it is internal comms who will put this work on a podium and ensure that colleagues across the organization are aware of the changes taking place. By incorporating messages directly from your leadership team, you can build trust amongst colleagues with updates that are straight from the source.

#5. Plant the seeds for more flexibility

Nearly half of your colleagues are likely to continue to work remotely at least part time following the pandemic. Flexible work environments will be a hallmark of many enterprises' sustainability initiatives, as such arrangements are linked with a host of related benefits including both decreased pollution and improved talent retention.

As workforces decentralize and embrace hybridized environments, the importance of corporate messaging will continue to come to the forefront. Internal comms will lead the way in keeping culture and connectivity alive through various mediums that engage colleagues and recreate office water cooler conversations.

Discover the future of the sustainable workplace

With sustainability rising to the top of every agenda, expect your leaders to look towards internal comms to bring their initiatives to life. To get ahead of the game and learn more about building a better tomorrow, download our The Future of the Sustainable Workplace report in partnership with Dr. Leyla Acaroglu.

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