Sustainability Messaging to Motivate

Tip #15

By Shannon Bunsen, Sustainability Project Manager for Mazzetti+GBA

As a follow-up to Tip #4, “Sustainability Engagement Benefits & Strategies,” Shannon Bunsen provides the following insights into providing Messaging to Motivate behaviors.

Are you trying to engage your workforce in sustainable behaviors? How you deliver your message is just as important as the message itself.

  1. Explain the why. Make your explanation personal and relevant. People are more likely to change their behavior when they understand how the benefits directly affect their lives. By understanding your audience and aligning your message with their values instead of your own, you increase the chances of earning their buy-in. A study published in 2013 from Stanford and UC Berkeley found that people were more likely to support pro-environmental policy when reframed in terms of their own morals.
  2. Keep it simple. People are more likely to engage in sustainable practices when they are easy to understand. Highlight one thing at a time and do so consistently. And people relate better to stories than abstract concepts, so incorporate (short) storytelling into your engagement strategy.
  3. Keep it positive. People are more likely to act sustainably with encouragement. “Do bike” is more empowering than “don’t drive.” In fact, negative messaging can have the opposite effect and create resistance toward sustainability. Recent research suggests that pride is a better motivator than guilt when it comes to green behaviors.
  4. Set social norms. We are heavily influenced by the behaviors of those around us. Publicly celebrate the success of your sustainability champions and leverage influential leaders displaying sustainable behaviors to help set sustainability as the cultural norm. Building social networks around sustainability will attract others to join in on the fun and build momentum for your efforts.

With a thoughtful approach to sustainability messaging and some key insights from behavior science, you can better engage your workforce in sustainability and make your program more successful in the long run.

About the Author

Shannon BunsenIn 2017, Shannon Bunsen joined Mazzetti+GBA, global provider of health care engineering and technology consulting, as sustainability project manager. She also leads The Sextant Foundation, a sustainable development non-profit that works in health care settings in the developing world. She offers more than five years of experience in sustainability program management. She was the University of Wisconsin Health’s first sustainability leader, a position she created. Bunsen holds a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with continuing education certificates in process improvement and change management.

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