To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we need to explore different ways of working and doing business. The festive season can provide an opportunity to have some fun, try new things, and engage your workforce in your SDG ambitions.
Here we suggest seventeen ways your business can support the Sustainable Development Goals and spread a bit of festive cheer:
1. Wear a festive jumper and help children living in poverty
In the UK, 4.3 million children live in poverty. Rally your team around Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day and raise some money for a good cause. You can always donate the money to a local anti-poverty charity if your team would prefer.
2. Donate different food items everyday through a reverse advent calendar
Local food banks will list the items they need over the festive period. Challenge your staff to donate different dry goods every day in the run up to Christmas day as a reverse advent calendar.
3. Run a wellness challenge
‘Tis the season for hibernating, but our bodies still benefit from movement. Remind your staff to take a break every now and again by running a wellness challenge (Santa costumes optional). Make it accessible to everyone, including those with health or mobility issues, by rewarding participation and not the activities themselves.
4. Game the Goals
Ensure your workforce know about the SDGs and run a seminar or information session with them or play Game the Goals to see what they know already. As a member of UN Global Compact Network UK, you can also sign young professionals up to the SDG Innovation Accelerator for Young Professionals to develop and drive new solutions for a positive impact on the company and the Goals.
5. Give a little comfort to women in shelters or experiencing homelessness
Organise a gift drive and see how many shoe boxes full of hygiene and beauty products you can donate to women in shelters or experiencing homelessness via the Shoebox Project.
6. Twin your toilet
Encourage staff to raise money or make a company donation to twin your toilet and provide basic sanitary facilities to communities in poorer countries.
7. Promote or provide a warm space this winter
Around the country organisations are providing free warm spaces for anyone who is struggling to heat their home. The Warm Spaces map collates these in one place to signpost people. Help spread the word and promote it to your stakeholders in case they or their friends or families are in need. If you have the facilities, perhaps you could also make your office a warm space once a week.
8. Promote local businesses and support the local economy
Whether in your own procurement or by encouraging your staff to buy local, purchasing goods and services from local businesses keeps wealth in the local economy and helps to level up around the UK.
9. Encourage public transport, active travel, or car shares for your Christmas party
Reducing emissions from transport not only helps with climate change but also reduces pollution. The festive season is full of in-person socialising and staff may be more likely to travel than normal. Incentivise the use of public transport, active travel or car shares for work events by reimbursing travel costs or by rewarding staff.
10. Make your festive activities inclusive
Focusing on inclusion during the festive season is especially important when celebrations can be problematic for some members of staff. Examples of this include employees from different religious groups, those who are absent from work due to illness or leave, those with mental health conditions, caring responsibilities, or addictions. Offering a range of activities within office hours that aren’t centred on food and drink can mean more of your workforce feel comfortable participating.
11. Employee volunteer befriending to reduce loneliness in your community
Approximately 4 million people report feeling always or often lonely in the UK. Older people are particularly vulnerable to isolation at Christmas. Support your employees to befriend isolated people in your community through one of the befriending charities.
12. Reuse, recycle, repurpose, go homemade, or give an experience
It’s estimated that around £42 million of unwanted presents are sent to landfill and an additional 30% of rubbish is discarded during the festive period. If you’re giving corporate gifts, organising Secret Santa, or a Christmas party, and think about ways to reduce waste. Office Secret Santa can be a lot more exciting if you have to guess who made that delicious box of cookies or knitted the holey socks.
13. Have a meat-free Christmas party
Reducing meat consumption is one way individuals can massively reduce their carbon footprint and the environmental impact of their diet. Nudge employees to reduce their climate impacts through plant-based meals by starting with veggie or vegan festive menus. You could even sign your company up to Meat Free Mondays and calculate the emissions saved as a result over a year.
14. Clean a beach
Help reduce ocean pollution, protect nature and restore a natural environment by organising a festive beach clean. Not near a beach? Simple steps can prevent plastic from ending up in the ocean, like banning tinsel or plastic decorations in the office.
15. Make a home for wildlife
If your business has property, why not leave space for wildlife this winter? Piles of logs or leaves in corners and flowerheads that have gone to seed can provide habitats for insects and mammals. It might not look as neat and tidy but the benefits to biodiversity quickly become apparent.
16. Let your workforce have their say
Organisations can become stronger and retain talent when decisions incorporate employee perspectives. This doesn’t need to stop at formal decision-making. Set up an employee committee to organise festive fun or let teams decide what they want to do for themselves.
17. Work together this Christmas
Whether internally or externally, find ways to work with others this Christmas. Activities could focus on connecting different divisions together or maybe even partnering with another business to bring workforce collaboration to the fore.
As the festive season draws in and the new year is on the horizon, it offers a good chance to pause and reflect on what your business can do to take its ambition forward in 2023.