Policy development should be the first step in any culture change program.
In this article we give you the reasons why developing policy first will:
- Save you time
- Increase your personal impact
- Ensure your culture change project is embedded
- Create harmony in your community
- Present your organisation in a better light
We also give you access to a template reuse policy (focussed on procurement, disposal and building decommission) at the end.
In the example below we talk about developing a reuse policy for an organisation but the same reasons apply to any culture change project.
If you’ve been considering introducing a workplace reuse policy, but are feeling a bit overwhelmed about where to begin... relax! Implementing a reuse policy in the office can be simple, especially with Warp It’s help – after all, many of your staff are already reducing, reusing and recycling at home, so they are likely know the ropes.
A reuse policy might replace your current disposal policy or may sit within your waste or zero waste policy. The policy will match strategic objectives in your:
- Sustainable Procurement Strategy
- Sustainability Strategy
- Estates/ Facilities Management Strategy
- Or Circular Economy Strategy
Here are eight reasons why there’s no time like the present to get that policy developed.
1. Policy is a force multiplier of behaviour change.
Policies are hard to push through but they are a force multiplier. That is, they give you maximum impact for relatively little effort. Once they are adopted they make subsequent activies much easier.
Policies are signed off and agreed by those who are leading in the development of a culture within an organisation. By developing a policy, senior management are illustrating commitment to an issue which they want to address. This, in turn, sends a message to staff- “This is how we want you to do things around here”- which increases staff engagement and participation in an issue.
We have written a draft reuse and repair policy which you can download at the end of this piece.
2. Having a defined policy means everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.
If you have a defined policy - the lead on the issue and any other staff members can point to it as a model for behaviour when you have dissenters or laggards in the ranks!
For any new change in culture in an organisation, it takes time to settle in. Some are more willing to change than others - you will always have 16% who dig their heels in. A policy is a great way to bring these people along because you can say to them, “Look, everyone is doing this. Senior management want you to do this”.
Diffusion of innovations theory (see graph below) suggests that all individuals in a social system adopt innovation at a different time. If you can predict, through personality traits, who is an innovator or early adopter, you can get them on board with your project first and make your life a lot easier- as you will be hitting the low hanging fruit and making progress.
3. Having a defined policy means less work for the person who leads on that issue
Before a policy, you might feel like you are banging your head against a wall trying to get people to change. Communications are usually made via word of mouth, events and strategic, regular communications. This is all part of the mix. If you have a policy, it can add weight to all of these communications and make them much more effective.
Furthermore - you won’t get queries from staff asking what to do. Staff won’t be bothering you to say ‘What? Why? How do I do this?’. They will already know as a result of the widely publicised policy. You can then get on with other things in a more effective manner!
4. A defined policy means commitment across the organisation
Policies are agreed at the highest levels within an organisation. They fit in with the organisational strategy and culture change. By having a policy, you are telling everyone ‘This is our culture, internally and externally’.
5. Better reputation in the community
One important thing you can do is to win the section of the market that consists of environmentally conscious people. This applies to your staff and external community also. Not only will enforcing a sustainability or reuse policy win you applaudes from concerned stakeholders , it will reaffirm why your current community are loyal to you, and may even convince anyone who was not supportive to reasses their experiences. You can talk about your sustainability decision making in stakeholder and shareholder reports, blog posts, emails and on social media.
6. Improve organisation ideology
Organisations attract employees who buy into their vision and mentality. If your organisation has a positive ideology, you are going to hire people with the same ideas. By working hard to improve the internal ideology of a business, the external perception will begin to change too as the business naturally forms itself into a different shape. Why else do organisations enter into awards?! This is a significant undertaking and is done so to improve outward appearences and generate good culture.
Forbes Magazine claimed that CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is one of the key factors for the most talented young applicants when joining a business. A recent study of sustainability and CSR professionals found that 87% of them believed sustainability was an important business strategy, though only 71% felt that their company’s organizational leader valued it! The 2015 Global CSR Study found that 90% of respondents would switch brand to support a cause, 84% sought out socially beneficial products and 61% would buy a lesser quality product to support a CSR initiative.
When potential staff see you have a reuse, sustainability or sustainable procurement policy they will be impressed with your vision and will feel good about a future within your organisation.
7. Allows the behaviour (reuse) to become 2nd nature
Staff are already recycling at home and making sensible purchasing decisions when they go shopping, (who doesn’t take a reusable bag to the shops now?) so why not use this subconscious skillset to introduce a reuse policy in the workplace. If people come to accept reuse as the natural disposal policy for items like furniture and stationery, they might think twice about binning them, and will instead go straight to their online portal to list the item. In that same visit to the portal, they may spot something they like and acquire it, supporting the system from both ends.
8. BONUS: Happy Employees
HR Magazine stated in 2012 that after high salaries and generous holiday allowances, genuine CSR values are one of the best ways of creating employee engagement and motivation. It’s noted that a CSR policy at the heart of the organisation’s ethos is a surefire way to create happy employees.
They said: ‘employees at a company that has no policy on recycling, but stages an annual litter clean-up, might become cynical about the genuineness of their firm's desire to make a positive difference to society. Likewise, this could be true of a firm that encourages volunteering, but has made no attempt to reduce its energy use.’
‘A organisation could well be genuinely committed to improving society in the one area in which it focuses its efforts. Its employees, however, are likely to view a one-dimensional approach to CSR as an indication that the activity is motivated mainly by a desire to manage the firm's reputation among external stakeholders.’
Policy development should be the first step in any culture change program.
If all of the above has tempted you to look into writing a reuse policy, but you’re worried it’s quite a large and difficult job, we’ve designed a FREE template download below that will make the task a whole lot simpler for you. Click the image below to download the policy.