How Springer Nature Group used their leadership team to double team engagement

In September, Springer Nature Group ran their most successful Giki challenges to date, with over 1,000 members and 243,454kg of carbon savings in just 3 weeks. We spoke to Sofia Szmirnov, their Sustainability Communications Manager, to find out how they did it. 

What format did your challenge take?

Springer Nature Group is a scientific publisher operating in around  50 countries worldwide and with over 9,000 staff. We believe the biggest impact we have in society is through the content that we publish. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a big part of our mission as a company, to open doors to discovery and accelerate solutions to the world’s biggest challenges, so we closely aligned our challenge to showcase how we as individuals can contribute to these goals. Since 2015, Springer Nature has published more than 800,000 pieces of research related to the SDGs, including 50,000 on climate action. 

I am part of the Springer Nature sustainability team of 5, and one of the things I focus on is employee engagement around our sustainability strategy on a global level. Building on the positive societal impact we have as a company through publishing research about the SDGs;  the SDG Impact Challenge allowed us to create a fun, employee engagement campaign whilst directly raising awareness and contributing to the SDGs.

Some people don’t feel empowered to take action on the SDGs as they are perceived as something that the UN, governments, and politicians deal with. They’re complex, so people feel they don’t know how to tackle them. In this challenge we ran with Giki, we were able to encourage people to take action, showing how small daily actions can collectively make a significant contribution. We were able to link directly to specific SDGs, helping to make them more real for people and creating a link between large global topics and individuals’ daily lives.

The number of steps completed for each SDG covered

What made your challenge such a success?

Having a targeted communications plan for our internal audience helped a lot, but what I think really made an impact is that we made it fun & easy to participate. Bringing an element of fun competition into the campaign was crucial for us to get wider engagement – this was an idea that our CEO suggested to us as a way to widen participation across the company – and he was right!  We created a video of the team leaders – 2 people for each of 9 teams. Since they’re well-known and influential people in their areas of the business their involvement inspired and encouraged colleagues to get involved. Each team was championing a charitable cause and competed for a spot on the leaderboard to win a larger donation to their chosen charity. 

Stills of the team leaders from the promotional video

Colleagues would join either because of the leaders or because they wanted to support certain charities. The leaders got very competitive, and that element definitely helped with the success. 

How did you get such support from the leadership team?

It was an easy sell for them, as they saw it as a fantastic opportunity to galvanise colleagues in their respective parts of the business in a meaningful yet fun campaign. It also helped that our CEO was strongly behind the idea and really encouraged the inter-team competition. We made everything as easy as possible for our team leaders, as the challenge was running in a very busy time for them.

Having the senior leadership involvement, plus a few other tweaks from our end, doubled the impact of our previous SDG Impact challenge which was amazing.

What were your main barriers?

We had decided to run the challenge around the UN 2023 SDG Summit, but it was the busiest time of the year for the company. 

We tried to position it as something that won’t cause you additional stress, is fun and impactful; it won’t take up a lot of time. Having the senior leadership team on board really helped here to spread the word and enhance participation. 

How do you plan to keep the momentum?

We are currently planning what our next challenge could look like, but keeping the momentum is definitely the goal. I will be working closely at a global level with a fantastic group of employees, our Green Impact Network, who are running engagement campaigns  throughout the year to raise awareness around sustainability topics. We want to continue to raise awareness and galvanise our colleagues at Springer Nature to take action on the SDGs and for them to feel empowered in the roles they play in building a more sustainable future. 

243,454kg of carbon savings. 7.2 litres water savings. 60,000m2 land savings. 30,313 items single-use plastic savings.

The achievements of the Springer Nature Group Challenge

Well done to Springer Nature Group for such an amazing challenge! If you have been inspired to run a challenge with your team, then speak to your Giki impact director or get in touch.