Engage employees on decarbonization
Encourages individuals to calculate and track their carbon footprint through a dedicated app, while motivating behavioral change
As part of Swiss Re's commitment to tackling climate change, the company encourages employees to take individual actions. When Swiss Re discovered that the personal carbon footprint of its employees and their households was much greater than its operational footprint (buildings, flights, etc.), it responded with the NetZeroYou2 program and app, which launched in 2021.
In 2022, the NetZeroYou2 program received two prestigious UK-based awards: the Best Corporate Sustainability Initiative award from the Business Culture Awards, as well as the Employee Engagement ESG Program of the Year award from the ESG Awards. The program’s success led Swiss Re to share its approach and the content in the app with its clients, as well as other interested companies.
To achieve the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, the average annual carbon footprint per person would need to be 1.1 ton. However, the current average annual individual carbon footprint is 6.6 tons (1). To inspire and support its employees to make the shift toward a more sustainable lifestyle, Swiss Re teamed up with Deedster to offer employees the NetZeroYou2 program and app. In line with Swiss Re's net-zero GHG ambition, the program aims to inspire employees to adopt the motto, “Do your best, remove the rest.”
The “Do your best,” component of the program includes enabling employees to calculate and understand their carbon footprint and offers various climate-related challenges in the NetZeroYou2 app. The latter range from informative quizzes and suggestions for practical small climate actions to interactive events and workshops. Since its inception, over 30% of Swiss Re employees have calculated their carbon footprint and collectively recorded over 500,000 small individual actions.
To involve employees in Swiss Re’s efforts to “remove the rest,” the programme also offers them access to the same high-quality carbon certificates portfolio the company uses to compensate operational emissions. In 2022, a total of 1,145 tons of carbon certificates were secured through the NetZeroYou2 program.
Each year, the program hosts various events featuring expert guest speakers, inspiring panel discussions, and practical learnings on less carbon-intensive lifestyles.
The NetZeroYou2 app is designed to help employees 'do their best' to reduce emissions.
Through the NetZeroYou2 app, Swiss Re encourages employees to calculate, track, and take actions to reduce their own carbon footprint, while providing access to market-leading climate information to understand how to contribute to Net Zero goals.
With the app, employees can calculate their personal carbon footprint and join climate challenges that provide insights on emissions based on different areas of their carbon footprint. They are encouraged to put what they've learned into action by completing small climate actions that suggest how to reduce emissions in their daily lives.
This means after gaining insights on emissions related to commuting or travel, employees are given suggestions on ways to reduce these emissions, such as biking or carpooling to work. These suggested climate actions are also tailored to the carbon footprint of each employee. For example, employees that take public transport to work will not receive a suggestion to carpool to work but could instead receive a suggestion to cycle to work.
To stay motivated, employees can compete in teams and climb the leaderboard to earn rewards.
What’s a personal carbon footprint?
A personal carbon footprint is the total amount of GHG emissions that result from an individual’s lifestyle, activities, and consumption patterns. With the app, Swiss Re employees calculate their personal carbon footprint and analyze the impact of their lifestyles, focusing on their home energy, food, shopping, travel, and commute choices. They can also explore differences between average carbon footprints across office locations. The result of the carbon footprint calculation is given as total tons of CO₂ equivalent per year.
Targeted emissions sources
Scope 3, employee commuting emissions and personal carbon emissions
Abatement potential is dependent on the personal carbon footprint of each employee. After calculating their personal carbon footprint, employees can complete small climate actions that provide suggestions on how to reduce their carbon emissions, such as reducing meat consumption, switching to more sustainable travel options, and shifting to means that increase energy efficiency at home. These climate actions display the potential carbon emissions reduction from completing the action, which is calculated based on the individual's current lifestyle.
While completing these climate actions, employees can track their own emissions reduction progress on their profile in the app. However, Swiss Re does not report on any aggregate emissions reductions of employees.
Since launching the program, over 30% of Swiss Re employees have calculated their carbon footprint and have completed over 500,000 small personal climate actions using the NetZeroYou2 app. After the first year, an internal survey found that 75% of employees agreed the app was helping them understand carbon reduction possibilities.
The NetZeroYou2 app has benefited Swiss Re by:
Raising awareness of its sustainability strategy
Promoting an innovative culture around sustainability
Building internal company pride
Enhancing engagement with employees and potential talent
For colleagues, the app has helped them by:
Developing a deeper understanding of CO2 emissions, contributing factors, and ways to reduce them
Giving hope and a platform to take climate action
Creating a sense of camaraderie and connection, building networks and communities that extend beyond the app
The costs depend on the number of users and personalization requirements. The target group is 500+ users.
Impact beyond climate and business
The program complements other Swiss Re initiatives and brings additional co-benefits. It facilitates collaboration with the Swiss Re Foundation to encourage and support employees volunteering for environmental projects that reduce or remove GHG emissions. These projects have included planting native trees to sequester carbon, protecting riverbanks, and providing fruit to local communities. Other projects have supported educating children on bike safety to reduce travel emissions while supporting their commute to schools, with a focus on underserved communities.
Swiss Re implemented the NetZeroYou2 program and app in 2021 with a global rollout. It included a message from the company’s leadership team and a launch video featuring employees. The company followed up after six months with a NetZero Day to involve leaders and published a magazine to highlight early engagement and achievements.
Swiss Re's Group Sustainability team runs the program and works in close collaboration with other departments, such as Communications and Human Resources. As such, the program can be implemented in different parts of the organization. Additionally, the program works closely with the company’s Operations team to highlight sustainability work and initiatives in various office spaces. This keeps employees updated on how to reduce their footprint at the office while encouraging them to reduce their footprint at home. This includes energy efficiency measures, reducing food waste, and climate-friendly food choices.
Swiss Re ensures the program operates lean with a small team, including support from the app provider. The company works with regional champions who volunteer to organize local events and increase engagement at their offices. This also helps employees take ownership and feel connected to the program.
Implementation and operations tips
A common challenge employee engagement programs face is growing and sustaining engagement following the initial launch excitement. Swiss Re keeps things fresh by covering different themes in the content, leveraging the app's leaderboard for fun competitions and team engagement, and actively onboarding new joiners. The company also recognizes active and passionate employees as regional program champions. It currently has over 20 champions across the globe who volunteer to organize local events and increase engagement at their offices. Swiss Re spotlights the great work of these employees, which builds a positive culture of recognition and community building.
"Carbon" is used in the text as an equivalent to CO2 equivalent emissions
"Emissions" refer to CO2 equivalent emissions
"GHG" refers to greenhouse gas
"Net-Zero" means that for every ton of GHG emissions that cannot be avoided, an equivalent amount of CO2 needs to be removed from the atmosphere and stored permanently