22 November 2021

How To Embrace Employee Activists In Your Climate Strategy – Part 2

Learn from global companies that have used their people's passion for driving real change.

It’s no secret that global businesses feel the pressure of corporate commitment to tackling climate change – Forbes even say it’s a business imperative. So, we’ve been looking at how embracing employee activism could be the answer to delivering on those promises.  

Learn from the best 

Before we dive into our best practice examples, here’s an important disclaimer – employee activism comes in all shapes and sizes. At its core, it’s about creating a framework in the workplace for employees to speak up. In some instances, employee activism can be a necessary measure due to injustice within the workplace. However, if you embrace an open culture for employee voice early on, it could prevent issues down the line. 

Bloomberg Law reports a new age of employee activism is upon us and says that companies will need to listen to workers to be successful.  

Not sure how? Take it from these three global companies who found listening to their colleagues helped drive change in the business.  


1. Waitrose  

Leading the way in employee idea generation is supermarket giant Waitrose. They created an innovation framework that actively encouraged their customer-facing employees to share ideas for ways the supermarket could improve things in store. 

Innovation lead at Waitrose, Stuart Eames, said, “IT should be the facilitator. But the problems should come from your stores, where the customer friction points are.” And this approach has led to 4,000 ideas. Waitrose has said they’re hoping to bring around 13% of these ideas to fruition – the biggest problem being there were too many ideas to choose from!  

One in-store employee had the grand idea to allow customers the choice of opting out of a receipt when at checkout. The idea was rolled out to all stores and saved Waitrose £460,000 in till roll paper. 

2. L’Oréal  

L’Oréal recognised they needed to engage employees to adopt sustainability behaviours across the business. The beauty brand used their annual innovation competition called the Beauty Shaker Awards to get all employees involved. So at every level and across every function, colleagues were asked to contribute their innovative sustainability solutions. Meaning every employee has the opportunity to transform the environmental impact of its factories and distribution centres to achieve the goal of improving L’Oréal’s overall carbon footprint. 

L’Oréal said ‘All roles and departments within the organisation got involved in this great revolution. From product design to supply chain, production, packaging and marketing, the whole value chain has been transformed.’  

To encourage participants, financial prizes were up for grabs for the finalists, and they got to share their ideas with the L’Oréal’s leadership team. Over 1,000 employees spanning across all divisions participated and shared over 700 new ways to decrease L’Oréal’ environmental impact. 

Read more about the outcomes of their sustainability commitments here

3. Virgin Trains  

Virgin founder Richard Branson has long been banging the drum about the value of listening to employee ideas. Saying, ‘No company should ignore their staff’s feedback and suggestions, and no staff member should silence their ideas or innovations. No matter how big, small, outrageous or conventional an idea may be, there’s always an opportunity to turn it into a reality.’  

Virgin Trains embraced this by creating an environment where all employees can suggest innovations to improve their service and product. And it’s proven to be a success, with on-the-ground train managers using their experience to share ways to provide better customer service.  

One train manager had the idea to introduce a new way to book seat reservations and improved engagement success rates from 72% to 90%. While another train manager introduced a new selling system to sell weekday upgrades at the time of train departure leading to fewer empty seats on the trains.  

Ready to tap into the passion of your people?  

The success stories of these global brands all have one thing in common – they unleash the power of their people. And that’s what we’re all about. Get in touch to see how we can help you audit your current employee experience. Then you can tap into the endless possibilities of your people.  

This is our part 2 on how to embrace employee activists in your climate strategy. You can catch up and read the part 1 article here. 

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