After fruitful discussions with larger corporations and municipalities during the Spring of 2022, Spark Sustainability sets out to pilot a solution that increases sustainability-related innovation by engaging employees in corporations’ climate work.
Company climate strategies easily remain abstract and feel far-off in the day-to-day work of employees. To remedy this, Spark Sustainability is developing a tool that engages employees in their company’s climate work, thus encouraging innovation as well as ensuring that ambitious climate targets are reached.
"The idea of developing the Carbon Donut app further for organisational use was born from our learnings from working with customer organisations over the past year. There is a clear need for sustainability upskilling, as well as a need to show how climate issues integrate both with decisions at work and with everyday habits and choices" says Amanda Rejström, CEO of Spark Sustainability. "The bet is that better educated and more interested employees will begin to bring their ideas on integrating sustainability into the organisation's business operations. This means more innovation and less emissions – it’s a real win-win situation", Rejström continues.
During the Spring of 2022, Spark Sustainability has met with over 30 larger firms and municipalities to better understand their climate -related challenges as well as what could lead to more action and a more integrated, strategic approach to sustainability work in larger corporations.
The findings of market research done by Spark Sustainability in Q1 2022 suggest that most larger corporations currently offer their employees some form of sustainability e-learning possibilities. Companies believe that engaged and educated employees come up with new ideas related to sustainability or emission mitigation; spread these thus creating innovation; as well as enable a more rapid roll-out of climate-positive practices in general.
At the same time, companies seem to struggle with internal communication of their climate work as well as with engaging their employees in the corporate sustainability targets. From discussing with more than 30 firms in Q1 it was learned that there is a widespread interest in an educational platform that engages more than regular e-learning solutions, and which simultaneously strengthens the employer brand.
The Carbon Donut app offers employers a way to communicate the firm’s sustainability-related goals as well as functions as an interactive learning tool for deepening understanding of climate-related questions. This means that cause and effect are brought together, and app users can see both why certain actions mitigate emissions as well as how more of these types of actions would impact the climate targets of the employer organisation.
Research shows (Polman & Bhattacharya 2016) that most employees use a rational cost-benefit calculus (“what’s in it for me”) to decide how to act and please their superiors. This is why measuring and communicating progress on key sustainability indicators works to attract people’s focus, as people want to succeed in the dimensions that they are measured on.
Carbon Donut offers a solution beyond sustainability e-learning platforms that enables the set-up of team challenges and tracking of employee’s climate actions, thus engaging employees in their company’s climate work.
An interesting example for sustainability to learn from is work safety. During the past few decades, the concept of safety in the workplace has become so integral to measuring efficiency, prominence and success of a company’s operations, that work safety measures are completely integrated into the day-to-day running of workplaces, factories and construction sites. This means that organisations’ knowledge of what impacts safety in the workplace and how to optimise it has increased tremendously over the years, and what follows is better health and safety as well as substantial cost savings.
“Making sustainability the next frontier for work-place culture could have serious payoffs: once considering the sustainability dimension of operations becomes second nature for all employees, entire corporations become more sustainable and new best practices are born each month, just as with work safety”, says Rejström.
The Carbon Donut app directly answers many of the questions related to upskilling office workers and engaging office employees in company climate goals. Apart from this need however, there is a second, broader need of communicating climate goals on construction sites and in factories, as well as bringing specific, up-to-date knowledge on how to mitigate emissions in certain industries to these groups of workers. The needs here are far more industry-tailored and could also possibly mean integration of factory systems with the Carbon Donut app to be truly effective.
Next up, Spark Sustainability is piloting the use of Carbon Donut in an office setting in two larger firms to gather information on the effects of employees’ experience of their level of know-how as well as the employer’s take on how sustainability-related innovation in the workplace has changed over the course of the pilot. When results from these pilots are in, Spark Sustainability will take a look at how the app can be tailored to specific industries.
PS. If you are curious to see how the B2C version of the app looks like today, this video gives a good sneak peek.
Spark Sustainability leverages emission data to improve customer loyalty and employee engagement for our partners. We consult businesses in emission calculations and offer digital tools that highlight the climate benefits of low-carbon products.