Dawn Meats engaging employees in the environment

Business in the Community Ireland

When a company has excellent environmental practices, how can these be communicated in an interesting and engaging way to its employees, its customers and its suppliers?

Dawn Meats’ experience with their recent successful Environment Week across their Ireland and UK sites has tips for others who might wish to do something similar.

A week of environment-related activities is a great way to raise awareness with staff of what a company is doing in terms of best practice and also to highlight ideas that can be used at home to save money and be good for the environment.

Tip 1: Initiate early engagement

Two months before the Dawn Meats’ environmental week all colleagues were invited to make suggestions on what they would like covered during the week via suggestion boxes, e-mail, the site environmental coordinator and their direct line managers.  This served to flag the environmental week well in advance.

Tip 2: Select a theme or themes

Environment is a very broad area.  Dawn Meats chose a theme for each day:

  • Monday: Waste
  • Tuesday: Water
  • Wednesday: Biodiversity
  • Thursday: Energy
  • Friday: Food Waste

Tip 3: Make it obvious

In the week leading up to the event, Dawn Meats erected large banners at the entrance where all their colleagues enter and leave the sites.

Tip 4: Design a programme that encourages active participation

The week began and ended with an invitation to staff to ‘Wear Green to Work’.    Staff responded enthusiastically as you can see from the photo.

Each day was designed to be informative. The objective was to trigger further conversation about how to operate in a more sustainable way, both at work and at home. Daily activities, external company presentations and engaging competitions were held to encourage participation. Some examples were:

  • WEEE collection points were set up for employees – for each battery collected WEEE Ireland made a donation to LauraLynn
  • Collection bins were set up in the canteen for clothes donations to Oxfam
  • Dawn Meats chef demonstrated how to use commonly wasted food items such as fruit, salad, vegetables and bakery items to make tortilla, jam, banana bread and chutney
  • Highlight of the week was Water day – as well as raising awareness about saving water, staff were offered 5 water saving devices for free which had a huge take up including a water butt, an aerated shower head and tap aerator
  • An energy saving quiz
  • A chance to learn more about biodiversity with guided tours of Dawn Meats Eco-park site and Integrated Constructed Wetlands (ICW), free wild flower seeds and a bee quiz
  • The best suggestions for on-site environmental improvements were rewarded with prizes of technology to help people manage energy in their homes

Tip 5: Use social media and other communication channels

Dawn Meats actively used social media and notice boards during the week.  Sites were encouraged to post their activities on Yammer and posters were erected to indicate what was happening on site each day.  Social media in particular allowed the different sites understand what their colleagues were doing across the group.

Tip 6: Partner for success

Dawn Meats acknowledged the support of a wide range of external companies during the week who shared their knowledge and encouraged employees to change their attitudes and behaviours. These included SSE, SEAI, Greenstar, Veolia, WEEE Ireland, Welsh Water, VESI Environmental Ltd., Yorkshire Water, 38 Degrees, Carbon Trust, aqualogic, Anglian Water, Clean Technology Centre, Yorkshire Water, and Love Food Hate Waste.

Tip 7: Include customers and suppliers

The primary focus of the week was employees and their engagement and awareness.  However, Dawn Meats also considered how to communicate with customers and suppliers via an activity report at the end of the week and through their regular presentation updates.  They also plan to include a report in their next ‘Dawn Direct’ newsletter which will go to 10,000 farmer suppliers and most of their customers in the Autumn. Several suppliers also took up the invitation to support activities during the week.

Tip 8: Build on success

This year’s Environment Week builds on the success of last year’s event.  The guided tour of the wetlands and eco-park this year was so successful that tours will now be available to Dawn Meats’ colleagues on an ongoing basis.  Greenstar continues to train the waste champions on how to maximise waste recovered for recycling.  And the team of Dawn Meats’ champions will continue to drive improvements in waste, energy and water throughout the year.

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