How to develop your green travel policy
Last week we talked about why a green travel policy is important. This time, we'd like to talk about some of the things to consider and some of the steps you could take when developing a green travel policy.
Be clear about your objectives
As with any change strategy, it is vital that you are clear about what your objectives are from the beginning.
Why are you moving towards a greener travel policy? Because you’re obliged to report on environmental performance or policy? Cost reduction? Something else?
What are your objectives? And how are you going to measure against those objectives?
Conduct an audit
Before you can set clear, measurable objectives, of course, you need a baseline of where you are now.
This means conducting an audit of current green policy, performance, and emissions data. You’ll also need to cross reference this against cost data too so you can assess the financial impact of the changes.
If you’re a publicly listed company or have more than 500 employees, you’ll need to be doing some of this already.
If you’re not, don’t worry: there are plenty of tools and guidance available to help you. I mentioned some of these in my last post, but perhaps one of the best places to start is your travel management company (TMC).
Talk to your TMC
Your TMC has information, expertise and access to tools that can help you understand your current emissions and other environmental impacts.
They are also in a good position to help you gain visibility of current performance because they have a clear overview of all the business travel happening within your organisation.
Which teams have the biggest carbon footprints? Why? What could they do differently?
Because of the overview they can provide, you should also discuss possible changes to the way they report your organisation’s business travel and the reports you have access to online, so that it includes environmental KPIs.
It is also worth discussing the goals of your new green travel policy with your TMC. As well as being likely to be able to advise you about some of the changes you could make to help you achieve your objectives, they will be one of your important key partners in rolling out and applying or enforcing the changes.
Communicate & Motivate
Travel policy is usually a compromise of cost, comfort, risk and duty of care. Suddenly throwing in a whole new variable is going to shake things up a bit.
This kind of large-scale change is going to need buy in from everyone and the kind of change management and communication strategy you’d apply to any major project.
Asking for employees input about your objectives, the best way to achieve them, and how they would like travel policy to change will help to get the early-stage buy in that will make it easier to roll out your changes and ensure long-term success.
Not only that, but it could throw up some interesting suggestions about how to achieve your objectives – offering options you might not have considered and enabling you to take a more holistic approach.
Take a holistic approach
A holistic approach is important because, if you’re serious about reducing your carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions, board-level commitment, a radical rethink and company-wide engagement are going to be required.
Strategies might well need to reach into all aspects of business operations. For example, if you really want to motivate people to change their behaviour, you might need to reassess your review and bonus policies and other aspects of your HR policy.
Don’t leave anything off the table.
Of course, for most businesses, the carbon footprint of your business travel activity is small fry compared with the getting to work, the nipping out at lunchtime, the failure to car pool, the lack of public transport links, the everyday travel of all staff.
Changing this behaviour is probably going to have the most far-reaching implications for the environmental impact of travel for your business operations.
It’s going to affect buildings and facilities – where you locate your offices (near to bus routes, trams, trains or cycle routes?), how many cycle lockers you create on site, whether or not you need to provide changing rooms with showers and lockers to encourage cycling to work, whether or not you really need a staff carpark.
It’s going to affect your working from home policies and the support and tools staff you provide to staff so they can do more work remotely.
It’s going to affect your review and remuneration policies – how can you make it more attractive for people to cycle to work? How can you reward those who do?
It’s going to affect your internal communications – how do you reinforce messages and celebrate successes? How do you encourage ownership by giving staff access to the relevant data?
And, of course, it is going to impact your travel policies – is it possible to provide passes for local transport? Should you install a ticket printer in your office for train tickets? How do you make the carbon footprint of different travel routes or methods clear to staff so they can make the right choices?
We do need to travel for business, however. Not all journeys can be avoided. Carbon offsetting has a role to play here in terms of your overall policy and performance.
Again, this is something that you can talk to your TMC about; there is a variety of schemes available.
Monitor, Review & Improve
Feedback from your TMC is probably going to be a large part of any monitoring and review process, as well as forming the basis of any public reporting.
You might need to tweak the way you monitor or report certain aspects, particularly at the beginning, but working closely with your TMC here will take the headache out of this.
Communicate and Motivate
The real question is: what are you going to do with the performance data once you have it?
What’s working? How can you develop that policy or programme? Who’s making a huge contribution? How can you celebrate them? Who’s got new ideas? How can you integrate them into your policy?
Making a positive difference to your environment and the planet is an amazing opportunity for your staff to feel good about the contribution they are making, and about your business. How can you keep the excitement, engagement and enthusiasm for the programme alive?
This isn’t just about internal communications though: tell your customers, get them involved.
How can your other partners contribute?
How can your TMC help?
Give us a call on +44 (0) 161 464 5350 or fill in the form below and let us call you back.