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Faced with increasing pressure from stakeholders to act on climate change, corporate America has been briskly setting climate action targets and making pledges accordingly. And a new report published by Kite Insights reveals that U.S. employees are concordant with their employers on climate action. Of the 7,000 employees surveyed across the U.S. in 15 major global industries, 66 percent say they are ready and motivated to tackle climate change at work. In addition, the report reveals that employees believe acting on climate change at work is connected to their motivation and wellbeing.

Though company executives and employees agree that action must be taken on climate change, there is often a disconnect between companies’ climate action plans and employees’ contributions, according to Kite Insights. In an interview with TriplePundit, the founder of Kite Insights, Sophie Lambin, explained that employees are increasingly becoming aware of the risks that climate change poses to them and the world. Further, there is potential here for companies to equip and mobilize their employees to take climate action.

“There is a real opportunity to capitalize on people’s willingness to act by equipping them with more knowledge, understanding of the science, what it means to the business [and] to the industry, and then equipping people with the tools and the resources so they can do what they do best in their roles and get things done,” Lambin said. 

Employees’ motivation and wellbeing is linked to acting on climate change at work

According to Kite Insights’ data, 67 percent of employees agree that climate change could have a negative impact on them or their loved ones. It’s clear that climate action resonates with employees’ personal beliefs and values, and its upshot — high job satisfaction — is pertinent to retention. Companies can create a more fulfilling work environment for employees by equipping them with the right resources and direction for climate action. And considering the pandemic-induced “Great Resignation,” employees are looking for more than just a paycheck. 

Company leaders need to take a note of this: The report’s findings reveal that 15 percent of staff surveyed have considered changing jobs so they could work more directly on climate-related issues.

Corporate leadership has climate action plans, but employees can’t explain them

A majority of employees are interested in participating in climate action training, according to Kite Insights. However, 63 percent of employees are unable to explain their company’s climate commitments. “There is a strong sense that while employees have some knowledge about what commitments the companies have been making, they have very little ability to translate what these commitments mean to them in the context of their job and their roles,” Lambin explained. “There is a real gap between and lack of translation of what those commitments made at the corporate level really means for people’s jobs.” 

To this point, Lambin pointed to a variety of reasons as to why this translation isn’t happening. She explained that from Kite Insights’ perspective, leadership hasn’t distilled what the translation or transformation of climate action means for the company value chain, and this is why staff across different departments lack a sense of direction or targets. Employees are unsure of how they can contribute toward meeting company climate action targets. 

Corporate leaders must actively engage their employees in the course of action, and there are a number of ways they can go about this. 

A missed opportunity calls for knowledge mobilization

To seize the missed opportunity of employees’ motivation to act, upscaling is key for companies. The starting point for companies that are looking to mobilize staff to tackle climate change is to recognize their employees’ knowledge and understanding of the issues and be cognizant that not all employees begin with the same level of enthusiasm or motivation, Lambin advised. Companies need to meet employees wherever they are: She illustrated this point by explaining that leaders can provide knowledge mobilization opportunities like masterclasses, workshops or volunteering programs to encourage enthusiasm for taking on climate action within the workplace.

To that end, Kite Insights has launched a sustainability education program, which it brands as the “Climate School.” The program focuses on helping organizations prepare for a more sustainable economy by educating employees with the information needed to act. This includes e-learning, workshops, and masterclasses covering areas such as climate science, biodiversity, natural resources and decarbonization.

“Our mission is to equip every employee in every role, to be equipped with the knowledge, the motivation, and the tools to contribute to the climate crisis in their role,” Lambin added.

Climate change, employee job satisfaction and business readiness are interrelated. Employees are actively looking to engage in their companies’ climate action plans. And with this, enterprises couldn’t be at a more opportune time to achieve their climate goals.

Image credit: Christina Morillo via Pexels