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Reaching your sustainability goals with effective training

Blog posts | 08.02.2023

Layla Croll

Senior Lead Learning Designer at

Has your organisation recently set a goal of becoming carbon neutral? 

How will you upskill your employees to help you achieve your goal? 

How will you make sure they understand how important this is? 

Celebrate your new sustainability pledge 

Organisations across the globe are taking up the challenge of setting ambitious and impactful sustainability targets. 

At City & Guilds, we have pledged to reduce our carbon emissions by 50% before 2030 and achieve net zero by 2040 or sooner. Sound familiar? 

To achieve your goals, you need to help employees adapt and build a sustainability mindset. They need to know how they can play a part and how important they are in helping you achieve net zero. Simply put, it needs to be collaborative. 

As a climate champion for our organisation, I’ve been helping clients design courses to upskill their employees in sustainable ways of working. So I have put together a 4 step guide on what to consider.

1. What’s your overall tone? Be positive, grab attention and motivate! 

Start with the ‘why’. Get employees invested by explaining the impact of not acting to reduce carbon emissions. Include positive messages about the impact we can have when we act. 

In 2010, Cornell University calculated an estimated amount of 60,000 dollars that they could’ve saved every year if those lights that aren’t in use are turned off

Energy and Sustainability, Cornell University, 2010

In our experience, it’s good to focus on two aspects of the ‘why’ when building motivation at the start of sustainability training: the societal impact and the business impact of climate change. 

2. Make the societal impact clear 

The societal impact taps into what your learners may already be connected to in their personal lives. Climate change is a common talking point and affects all aspects of our lives, so your employees may already be heavily invested and willing to participate in any positive change. Reminding them of the importance of issues that affect the whole of society helps to build their motivation and make them want to find out more. This ‘bigger picture thinking’ can be really profound as it goes beyond individuals and your organisation. 

As with compliance and health and safety training, your employees want to work in a safe environment and protect themselves from harm. Sustainability training builds on that same willingness to be a part of positive action and change - for your employee’s own benefit and the greater good for everyone.  

3. Emphasise the business impact 

Whilst some of the societal impacts may be instantly familiar to your colleagues, the business impact may not. Many businesses recognise that to stay relevant in the future business world they must meet their customers' needs. Since COP27 it is safe to assume that many customers are also looking to be more sustainable. Organisations need to meet those expectations in order to keep doing business with them. 

We have some great stats on how sustainable practices can save businesses on their bottom line. Stats can be impactful and powerful when you are trying to engage and persuade your teams. For example: 

Businesses switching to solar energy can reduce their energy budgets by up to 70% 

Six Business Benefits to Installing Solar Panels, Blue and Green Tomorrow, Feb 2021

4. Be specific and relevant 

So, your learners are invested and want to act, but they need to know how

People need specifics so they can make as much of an impact as possible. Make sure you include specific actions for: 

  • Anyone in any business 
  • Everyone in your business 
  • Specific roles in your business 

Then there’s something for everyone. 

We have a wealth of information you can tap into to train your learners, such as looking for opportunities to reduce your buildings’ carbon output, using green energy and improving efficiency. 

What specific actions should your business consider on a day-to-day basis? This brings relevance and relatability to your course. It could be the way you source materials for the creation of your products or it could be new research relating to your industry. This is how we start to bring your unique, sustainable business strategy to life. 

Have you worked out how to measure and report your Scope 1,2 and 3 emissions? What even are they? We use global guidelines from organisations such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol which have guidance for all businesses on how to measure and report their unique carbon emissions. Upskilling learners in direct (Scope 1) and indirect (Scope 3) emissions can help them take a holistic view of the impact of every action within the value chain of your business. Plus, this will help them build a mindset of how small actions can make a difference. 

Finally, bonus tip: Tell stories 

Make your narrative compelling and realistic by including actions (large and small) that have already been taken in your organisation or industry, to show the possible and bring it back to reality. 

But a warning here: keep it short and sweet! 

Try this simple 4-step format to present your real-life examples: 

  1. The challenge 
  2. What action did we take? 
  3. What changed? 
  4. The impact

Take action 

Inspired by this article? If you’d like to talk about how we can help you achieve your sustainability goals - then get in touch today. We’d love to support you.   

Layla Croll

Senior Lead Learning Designer at

Layla has experience working with a diverse range of clients to create effective, engaging and highly-rated digital learning experiences. With a passion for encouraging active participation in learners, Layla specialises in social learning design and using video for storytelling.