Successfully achieving sustainable business transformation with internal communication tools

What is internal climate communication?

Internal communication quote Lechner
Glacier Teamfotos Wien Studio Matphoto34of118

Julia Widmann

Content Marketing Manager

The fact that companies have to take steps towards climate neutrality is inevitable due to regulatory requirements, such as the EU taxonomy, and changing climate conditions, and most are already aware of this. The question that often still stands in the way of implementing GHG reduction measures is "how?". Wilfried Lechner, Head of Marketing, Communications and Sustainability at Wienerberger Österreich GmbH, explains how companies can involve all employees in the climate transformation through internal communication and create the necessary awareness for climate change.

What is internal communication?

Internal communication is a major pillar of climate-active business transformation.

According to Gabler's business encyclopedia, the term "on the one hand characterizes a management function that uses communication and behavior management to support its organization. On the other hand, internal communication at the operational level means the planned communication instruments (media and personal communication)."

In summary, then, internal communication encompasses two types of communication:

  • The proactive involvement of stakeholders (=employees).
  • The way in which communication is carried out (communication tools).

The goal of internal communication is the exchange between management and employees, the transfer of knowledge and the strengthening of motivation for the company itself and certain topics such as sustainability in the company.

What tools are there for internal communication?

Internal communication, as already described, includes the way in which communication takes place. A large focus here is on the communication tools that represent the transmission channel of information, updates, action setting, etc. A distinction can be made between analog and digital communication tools. Since not every employee has online access, each company must individually select the most useful tools and adapt them to the type of workforce (production, office, etc.) and the size of the workforce.

Analog ways of internal communication are for example:

  • Employee magazine
  • Bulletin board
  • Face-to-face meetings/ town hall meetings

Digital ways of internal communication are:

  • Intranet
  • Internal blog
  • Wiki (own encyclopedia for information concerning the company)
  • Internal newsletter/ emails
  • Instant messaging tools (e.g. MS Teams)
  • Video conferencing

Internal communication tools

How can all employees be involved in the climate transformation?

The brick company Wienerberger Österreich GmbH has set itself the goal of climate neutrality by 2050, and for years has been actively making decisions that focus on minimizing the company's CO2 emissions.

"For us, it is crucial that we take every employee with us on the journey towards climate protection. That's why internal communication is at least as important as external communication," says Lechner.

As a production company, Wienerberger faces the challenge of informing employees in the office as well as in production about measures, decisions and changes in the area of climate protection in the company and convincing them of their necessity.

To this end, the company implemented a so-called "Green Team" as a communication instance, which unites sustainability officers from all departments, age groups and genders, who act as "sounding boards" to communicate the idea of climate protection within the company. The head of this Green Team is Lechner himself, who concentrates on the area of biodiversity together with a female colleague. In production, the Green Team representative focuses on decarbonization. Since the 380 employees in production do not have online access, communication must take place via alternative channels. Here, the company helps itself out with so-called "town hall meetings", by definition meetings at which a management representative answers employees' questions. The company also communicates via employee newspapers and specific speeches by the Management Board. Employees in the office can be reached via e-mails and digital media.

Action week to bring climate protection closer to all employees

As part of the Glacier Climate Week, Wienerberger launched internal activities to familiarize employees with climate protection and actively motivate them to take action. Awareness and knowledge on the topic of climate protection were communicated with the help of on-demand videos, and in order to achieve a sustainable change in behavior, gamification was used as part of a climate challenge. In gamification, elements of entertainment games are placed in a foreign context, which leads to a playful transfer of knowledge in the learning context.

In summary, this means:

In order to create sustainable changes in the behavior of employees and to successfully implement climate protection in the DNA of a company, transparent communication about measures and climate goals is mandatory. With a Green Team as stakeholders in the field of sustainability, internal communication on climate protection is possible both top-down and bottom-up. CO2 savings can be made in every area of a company, which is why not only the employees in the office but also, as in this example, the employees in production must be included in the company transformation. Strategies for successful internal communication are useful here. Production employees without online access can be reached, among other things, via:

  • town hall meetings
  • direct communication (employee newspapers)
  • concrete speeches (board of directors)

while employees in the office can be notified of new measures via e-mails and digital media.

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