Advice: How to engage your staff in sustainable practices

Advice: How to engage your staff in sustainable practices

Advice from Shannon Guihan, programme director of TreadRight Foundation

How can a company ensure that its staff care about and put into practice the business’s ethos on sustainability? Shannon Guihan, programme director for The TreadRight Foundation, says having engaged staff is a vital element of a company’s environmental initiatives.

TreadRight is a not-for-profit organisation established by The Travel Corporation to encourage sustainable tourism across its family of brands – Trafalgar, Insight Vacations, Contiki Holidays and Uniworld, to name just a few. Since it was established, TreadRight has donated more than $2million to sustainable projects around the world. Here are Shannon’s top-five tips:

Get your internal communications right

You can’t expect staff to participate if they don’t know what you stand for or what you’re doing out in the field. We’ve worked hard on our new TreadRight website, implementing extra features such as a social media aggregator to connect with our staff. We also use our company intranet to gather ideas, share best practice and deliver updates from our global chief executive. Communication is vital for staff engagement – it has to come from the top of the business.

Lead change within 
your industry

Undertake projects that both your staff and clients can see is making a difference – don’t simply participate for the sake of being seen to be doing the right thing. Both Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection and Red Carnation Hotels have either implemented or participated in research, under our key pillar of thought leadership, that is promoting change within their respective sectors. Being at the forefront of this change gives employees something to 
really be proud of.

Work with credible sustainability partners

Youth holiday specialist Contiki recruited environmental film‑maker Céline Cousteau as its sustainability partner. The excitement and engagement of staff that’s resulted from this partnership has been instrumental in inspiring the whole team. Get your ambassador involved in as many ways as possible; for example, speaking at internal conferences or hosting fam trips.

Support projects that 
your staff can relate to

The projects have to be in line with the brand’s values to make sense to your team. For example, Trafalgar is working with the National Trust to preserve the white cliffs of Dover, an iconic British landmark. This is a place we visit on our Trafalgar Great Britain itineraries and reflects the history and heritage of our programme, so is true to the brand.

Allow your staff to be 
active participants

After all, this is their initiative too. For example, Contiki ran an internal competition asking staff how they would implement sustainable practices within the business. The winners went on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Mexico to restore damaged coral reefs with Céline. And it doesn’t have to be a costly incentive: staff with Insight Vacations will have the opportunity to identify and vote for a new sustainable food project in Europe.


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