Aligning company culture with sustainability goals

Field Studies Council

Are you committed to improving your ESG credentials and achieving B-Corps status, but finding the whole process rather overwhelming? Well, you’re not alone. It’s a process to be embraced, not feared, so let’s look at how to align your company culture with your sustainability goals…

Build a strong sustainability culture

Imagine this scenario (or perhaps it’s your current reality)…

Your business is committed to reducing its energy output, leadership have signed off and you’re getting your data together.


✔ There’s a carbon reduction plan in the works.

✔ You’re hoping to become B-Corps certified.

To achieve these goals, you’ll need lots of meaningful data, which means your whole team needs to be fully committed to the cause.

Incoming potential roadblock…

It appears that some team members have no idea what your sustainability goals actually are, and are you confident they understand the purpose? Oh, and there’s a handful of team members who seem reluctant to get involved.

Deep breath.

As the proverbs go…teamwork’s the dream work and there’s more strength in numbers. (And to quote High School Musical, 🎶 we’re all in this together 🎶)

This is where the need to align your company culture with your sustainability goals becomes key. But how do you develop a strong sustainability culture?

Get everyone on board with your brand sustainability goals

Your employees are your brand ambassadors, so it’s essential they understand – and buy into – your brand values. Before you begin, it’s worth ensuring that employees are familiar with the Sustainability Agenda, to bring some context around why all this matters in the first place.

Employees who aren’t instrumental in big decisions might not feel they’re involved in the sustainability incentive. They might not have enough information on it, or enough time to spare.

It might be the case that employees aren’t aware of how much goes into making a brand more sustainable. So when they hear ‘we’re trying to reach our sustainability goals’, without the understanding of what that means on a larger scale, it may be interpreted as another dig at whoever didn’t clean out their pot of soup before putting it in the recycling bin.

Or alternatively, employees know exactly what goes into making a brand sustainable, and might think it’s just something the company says they’re going to do but don’t believe they will.

You’ll want to make your colleagues feel valued and engaged to get them invested in your sustainability strategy. So when they’re representing you and your business, they are exemplifying your values and can help you forge new business relationships.

Use a reward and recognition approach

If this scenario sounds eerily familiar, then perhaps the Reward and Recognition approach to employee engagement could be the one for you.

At The Team, we understand the value of reward and recognition when it comes to employee engagement – both in internally and with clients.

The aim is to understand and appreciate the varying natures of your employees. There will be both shared and unique capabilities, opportunities and motivations – and those three things drive the change in behaviour you want to see. Reward and Recognition is a really powerful way to make it fun, competitive and demonstrate that sustainability really matters to your business.
Jen Robinson, Employee Engagement Consultant at The Team.

Forbes notes that, ‘if companies focus on enhancing their rewards and incentives programs, job satisfaction and employee engagement can improve.’

So, when people feel like they are being recognised for their efforts, they’re likely to do more. Makes sense!

Hayley Exon, ex-Strategy Director at The Team comments in Behavioural science can amplify employee recognition, ‘Social reward’ allows our peers to see that what we offer has significance’.

This is particularly important when it comes to sustainability.

We all know that the world is burning, the climate crisis is at full pelt, and that we must act now. But it’s not always clear how this would link in with business, your workplace, and your brand.  When it comes to reward and recognition, it’s about a collective approach that makes everyone feels valued.

3 ways you can engage your employees with sustainability

Online platforms and portals as nudges

The Team works closely with Better Bankside, a business improvement district, who have set up a platform and app called Green Champions. Businesses who take part in the platform are asked to encourage their employees to sign up with individual pages.

The platform allows you to make pledges, e.g. reusable coffee cup pledge, take photos of a second hand purchase you’ve made, and record key data like how many times you travelled to work on public transport, and many more. Individuals can win prizes, and businesses who have the best overall score will also be rewarded and receive recognition from other companies in the area.

So if you’re thinking of implementing something similar in your own workplace, it’s important to consider that there’s work to be done around it. While the platform itself is a great starting point, your colleagues will need reminders to use it and log their actions.

The conversation around it must keep flowing, otherwise it may fall to the wayside…much like downloading a fitness app on the 1st of January, and never using it again.

This can be done in team meetings, or in one-on-ones. Ingraining it into your weekly schedule (at The Team, we review our progress every Tuesday during our team-wide meeting) is a good idea. Repeatedly mentioning the app or platform and comparing results and sharing ideas is a way to get it into the zeitgeist.

And while rewards may be bountiful on the app, are staff getting rewarded in person?

Perhaps doing a bit of in-house competition could also be useful, is Tim still top of the leader board in your office? If he is, maybe he should be individually acknowledged in the morning stand-up.

Maximise the rewards!

This is where line managers can step in. Within a business you have smaller teams, a sort of stacking doll of experts. If a line manager is noticing your progress, your efforts and your enthusiasm, then you’ll be more driven to do more. It’s human nature.

So, if your line manager rewards you with kind words, or even a small prize like a voucher to your favourite bookshop, you’ll feel satisfied and more engaged. This approach can be used when it comes to sustainability, too.

Perhaps your line manager might set a challenge to those in your smaller team, e.g. assisting with the company’s carbon-reduction plan, collecting data for the B-Corps application, finding ways to reduce the company websites energy use. Once completed, the company pays for a nice lunch from the new restaurant round the corner.


The Lego of it all…

At this point in your journey, sustainability goals will have become part of your values.

It’ll be seeded in everything you do, from strategy to campaigns. So, you might want to remind your employees of these values and find a way in which they can truly appreciate them.

In a recent project with SBM, The Team’s director, Cliff Ettridge, led a workshop with SBM’s Porto based employees that used LEGO to reengage the team with the company’s values.

Perhaps for your next team training event, you could organise a day focused on employee engagement with Sustainability, using LEGO.

This in itself will put sustainability at the forefront, before you’ve even completed the workshop.

Cliff finds that, ‘As a facilitator, building confidence with the LEGO allows you to then ask those more interesting questions: build the culture of the company as you see it today; build how you feel on a great day, and so on.’

With LEGO, participants are able to move past their fears and return to their inner child. It then allows people to move forward and express how they see things with more clarity and confidence.

The key is to have fun.

Your team will feel like their opinions are being valued and the workshop may well unlock some new insights into how your brand can move forward on its sustainability journey.


For many of us, it can be hard to know where to start. Sustainability for business can seem daunting and getting your team on board might feel like a struggle.

While the reward and recognition approach is not the only option, it’s a really great place to start. It’s nice to be nice, and when people feel valued, they’ll want to honour the company’s values with more gusto.

Interested in discovering how reward and recognition incentives could benefit your team?

Talk to The Team!