CIET's Ask Us Anything series is a free monthly Q&A session with industry experts.

Lisa Vanlint and Kady Cowan dove into the world of successful engagement strategies in our Organizational Engagement: How to Create Successful Energy and Sustainability Campaigns Ask Us Anything session. The experts shared their experiences, shedding light on both the challenges and triumphs they have encountered in orchestrating effective engagement campaigns.

Together, Lisa and Kady answered questions, offering valuable advice on engaging both internal and external stakeholders to create a campaign that truly leaves an impact. In this highlight, they brought differing answers to a particular question about the type of campaign they prefer.


Question: What are the differences and benefits of holding a challenge-type campaign versus general management? For example, measured quantifiable versus basic engagement.


Kady: It depends on your goals. This may not be a popular opinion, but in my opinion, I think basic engagement is a waste of time. I think your engagement needs to be specific. It needs to be about something. That's the work: trying to figure out your audience and designing something that's going to be engaging for them. 

A blanket 'this-is-happening, I hope-you-like-it' doesn't feel like you're doing the work to me. That's more of a marketing or communications thing, which is important, but it's not engagement.

In terms of challenges, I am not a super-fan of doing that competition-style engagement. Mostly because I don't think it persists. Once the external motivation of being the winner is gone, has anything changed fundamentally? Often the answer is no. I know people love competitions and challenges, so I want to do what people love, just like CIET - they want the people to be happy and so do I. So where a competition or challenge does make sense is when you need to attact people's attention for the first time. It's sort of like a big, flashy show happening over here, come on, get involved. Trying to get people's attention. So if you want to get people's attention, a competition or a challenge might be the right strategy, but I don't think it's your engagement campaign.

Lisa: So Kady and I may slightly differ in opinion on this one. We do a lot of engagement campaigns that are challenge-based. But it's true, you really do want to make sure people are doing the thing, not just to win, but they're doing the thing because they want to do the thing, and they've learned that the thing itself that you're trying to get them to do is valuable unto itself. So it is important that the winning and what the prize may be not be this massive thing. It's got to be something small so that it's really more about what it is that you're doing.

We do a lot of challenge-based engagements, not just to work internally to get more people part of the Green Team or more people part of our bicycle-user group for example, but also focus on particular ideas on a regular basis to remind the organization itself. For example, we have a calendar going with Earth Month. It used to start with a day, and then it was a week and now it's a whole month. It should be Earth Year, but that's a whole other story. We've got that in April. In June, we have Bike Month, so we work on sustainable transportation. Sometimes the engagement, the challenge itself, lets people know by the way these resources are out there. I'm constantly amazed that by doing a thing we find out that there are people who didn't even know something. They were looking for something like secure bike parking, and they didn't even know it was right underneath their feet. They only learned that because we were doing an engagement strategy where it was challenge-based and this led them to that discovery.

We also have Waste Reduction Week in October. With Waste Reduction Week, we also reach across to all the other hospitals and do an inter-hospital challenge. This is something we run here at UHN. By doing that, we're also able to build those relationships across so we're able to to do other engagements.  For example, right now we're working on something that is related to the excess packaging involved with cold storage and cold shipments (styrofoam, ice packs, etc). So we're working together on a vender strategy and using our combined purchasing power. This was enabled because everyone worked on Waste Reduction Week, so it was easy for use to collaborate on something like that.

Annabel: It's interesting to have two separate views. And different doesn't mean wrong, right? It falls into who you're talking to, who your audience is, what the targets are and how to address those.


Did you miss this Ask Us Anything session?

Here's another video highlight you might be interested in: How can you engage people in settings where there are a lot of competing priorities, and where energy and sustainability sometimes needs to be secondary to crucial health service needs?


Interested in learning more about Energy Engagement Strategies?

CIET's Energy Engagement Strategies program is intended for participants who have or want to create an energy engagement strategy incorporating the various aspects of behavioral and holistic organizational energy management. The program will focus on the practice of influencing and modifying individual and collective behaviors to promote more energy-efficient and sustainable habits. 

Learn more about the program, learning objectives, and find an upcoming session.




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