Challenging a workforce
From how to wash your hands correctly to where to dispose of rubbish, NHS staff are bombarded by messages, rules and advice every day. So when we were asked to create a campaign promoting sustainability in healthcare, we knew it had to be distinct to cut through the noise.
Care Without Carbon is Sussex Community NHS Trust’s new strategy to make healthcare more financially, environmentally and socially sustainable — and, ultimately, carbon neutral. When we met with the project team, they already had a logo, look and feel. But they needed a straightforward way to help staff understand the approach and inspire them to get involved. We had a tricky audience to reach.
These are dedicated people who already give their heart and soul at work every day — and we were asking them to do something extra. They aren’t all based in hospitals or offices, either. Many of the 4,500 staff are on the road much of the time, doing home and clinic visits.
Pledges are a simple way to get busy people to commit to an action. So we built on this idea and created a concept based around ‘dares’.
Finding what mattered
We started with a workshop for Trust staff already engaged in environmental action. We asked them to review a few previous internal campaigns, to help us get a feel for what kinds of messages made people take notice.
We all agreed pledges can be a simple way to get busy people to commit to an action. So we built on this idea and created a concept based around ‘dares’.
Inspired by the care and courageousness of healthworkers at Sussex Community NHS, we arrived at Dare to Care. It was an invitation for staff to take straightforward dares that not only help the environment but have a positive impact on health and wellbeing.
We aimed for a gently provocative tone to echo shared values and stimulate collective action (and maybe even a bit of healthy competition).
Before revealing the details to staff, we ran some teaser posters that simply asked ‘Do you dare?’ and ‘Who dares wins’. The design was replicated across all the internal channels, as a screen saver, desktop banner, on the intranet and in the weekly e-update to really amplify the messages.
This generated curiosity and excitement, making the objective a talking point.
Making it matter more
Staff told us they like to see people they know promoting campaigns. So, there were photoshoots with staff and senior managers, who posed with placards stating they had dared to care. These appeared on the launch posters and blog posts The dares were clear, simple and doable. Small, easy things that added up to a big difference, each one with an environmental, financial and social benefit.
▶ Switch it off — lights, computers and monitors, and all equipment at the end of the day.
▶ Take a walk — an extra 15-minute walk, at least once a week.
▶ Paper cut — use recycled paper, both sides; better still, don’t print it.
▶ Meat-free Monday — take the veggie option once a week.
▶ Drive down fuel costs — with the right tyre pressures, no unnecessary weight in your car, and gentle accelerating and breaking.
▶ Green your workspace — with a stress-reducing potted plant for your desk or corner of the office.
With our brilliant web development partners BrightMinded, we created a simple website where people could sign up for dares and find out more about Care Without Carbon from their phone or desktop. Anyone could access www.carewithoutcarbon.org — there were no passwords or restrictions. The site tracked the dares by geographical area, creating some gentle competition between different parts of the Trust and encouraging people to get, and stay, involved. Dares changed every few months so there was always a reason to go back to the site.
Seasonal or event-specific dares could be added, like swapping to a Fairtrade product during Fairtrade Fortnight or ditching the car during Walk to Work Week.
A few hurdles
Working with the right partners on a major campaign like this is really important. We’ve been on a journey with Neo, have learned a lot in the process, and we’re excited about where this is taking us.
– Will Clark, Associate Director – Energy & Environment, Sussex Community NHS Trust
We didn’t come up with this strategy straight away. Initially we planned to focus the campaign on a single area of sustainability — waste would be an easy win, we thought. But after more discussion, and exploring the ambitions of the sustainability team, we realised we needed to build a broader platform from the outset.
Technically there were challenges, too. The site needed to work across the wide range of technologies people were using. That could be anything from a state of the art smartphone to an archaic desktop computer, making it hard to test for all the possible glitches. We had to respond quickly to user feedback to get things working well for everyone.
The Dare effect so far
All went well and the campaign got people talking, daring and doing what they could to reduce their footprints.
At time of writing:
▶ More than 900 staff made almost 4,000 dares
▶ Contributing to net savings for the trust of more than £2million (at time of writing), and a 20% reduction on its carbon footprint
▶ And a 12% uplift in wellbeing for staff who ‘dared’
What’s more, the campaign helped Care Without Carbon win three NHS Sustainability Awards, in the behaviour change, human resources and clinical categories.
The Trust’s Will Clark, associate director of energy & environment, said: “Working with the right partners on a major campaign like this is really important. We’ve been on a journey with Neo, have learned a lot in the process, and we’re excited about where this is taking us.”