November 17, 2022

The first step to becoming an ESG-led company is implementing a business strategy around environmental, social and governance issues important to your employees, stakeholders and customers. To achieve your ESG goals, your strategy should include an ongoing training and communications component that keeps employees, managers and leaders informed, involved and engaged.  

Communicating to employees what an organization’s ESG strategy is and how to operationalize it in daily activities is essential to achieving workforce buy-in and building sustainability into the work culture.  

A new Traliant report based on a national survey of 2,000 employees finds that ESG is an important topic for workforces. More than half (54.1%) of survey respondents said they would leave their company for another organization that is more aligned with their ESG values. But while 60% of employees surveyed said their organization has communicated about ESG issues, nearly a third (30.6%) said their company has not yet spoken about ESG issues at all. 

Simply having an ESG strategy won’t achieve results. Ongoing communication and training are vital to engaging employees who will implement the strategy. Employees want to be involved according to the Traliant report. Almost half of (47.8%) of surveyed employees want to be more directly involved in ESG; 41.2% want to have an opportunity to provide input into their company’s ESG commitments; and 40.7% want leadership to be more transparent when it comes to social, political and environmental issues.  

Follow these 3 steps to raise workforce awareness and support for your organization’s ESG initiatives: 

1. Build your workforce ESG IQ  

Provide employee training to introduce environmental, social and governance factors as a way of measuring sustainability’s impact on your business. When employees understand what ESG is and its impact on business, it inspires them to think about how your organization can operate more efficiently and find innovation solutions. As ESG is a broad topic full of interrelated issues, employees often don’t realize that the activities they are working on have an ESG angle, such as worker safety, diversity, equity and inclusion, cybersecurity, data privacy, bribery, corruption and more. Ongoing communication and comprehensive ESG training connecting these issues to your strategy helps to embed sustainability into day-to-day operations. 

2, Create employee buy-in 

Address the “so what?” factor and answer employees’ questions about what your ESG strategy means for them. This should be a compelling value proposition to gain buy-in, such as increased job satisfaction, improvements to operations and processes, and a greater sense of value through enhanced collaboration, learning and growth. Provide examples of how sustainability behaviors provide positive benefits by incorporating real-work scenarios that mirror the work environment so employees can see how the outcome is pertinent to their own situation. 

Leaders and managers within an organization should also understand the value an ESG strategy creates for employees to more easily motivate them to adopt  expected behaviors that guide internal decisions and actions. 

3. Drive top-down, bottom-up behavior change 

To make ESG gains, all employees, managers and leaders need to understand the role they play, the resources available to them and the ways their solutions and behaviors bring value to the organization. Leverage team and company meetings to share ESG wins, highlight ESG topics and to discuss how ESG is being integrated into marketing and product development. When all levels of an organization are aligned in actively embracing new ways of thinking and working to support your ESG strategy, they become unconscious habits to make sustainability part of the work culture. 

Read the full Traliant report, How Employees Are Shaping the New World of Work.  

For additional ESG report insights, listen to the replay of our webcast “Pivoting HR & Compliance to View ESG Through New Lens.” 

Traliant Insight 

Employee awareness and support of an organization’s ESG strategy is critical to achieving sustainability goals. Ongoing training and communication is essential to helping employees and managers understand how environmental, social and governance factors benefit a business and how they can individually contribute to building a culture that makes sustainability a key component of business behavior and decisions.  



Mark Hudson