Case study: first direct

After signing up 500 staff in just two weeks, first direct’s 10:10 employee engagement campaign deserves a closer look.

It started, as these things often do, with a flash of inspiration. Company climate champion Derek McCreadie was casting around for a way to frame the company’s planned 2010 energy-saving challenge, having been briefed to “keep it fun, keep it simple, and look for the engagement factor”. Although he’d heard about 10:10 in a staff meeting, it wasn’t until a quiet moment a few days later that it really hit him. “I was just at home late one night and I had one of those light bulb moments that we just need to do this!”, he recalls.

After a flurry of emails debating the business merits of signing up, First Direct finally took the plunge in in early January, bringing their two sites in Leeds and Glasgow under the 10:10 umbrella. Since then, they’ve put together one of the smartest and most successful 10:10 staff engagement campaigns we’ve come across.


The first step was to put the 10:10 signup widget on the first direct intranet. This allowed employees to join 10:10 directly, and let the company track how many had signed up.

For first direct, incentives were key to getting staff on board. Everyone signing up was given a free copy of the Rough Guide to Green Living by 10:10’s resident carbon expert Duncan Clark. New 10:10ers were also entered into a draw to win a £1,000 eco holiday, an OWL energy monitor or a solar-charged MP3 player. A bit of healthy competition was introduced by offering a second holiday to a randomly-picked member of staff at the site which generated the most signups.

In this area, a bit of joined up thinking can go a long way. The company have fitted solar panels at their Leeds HQ and installed a clever auto-shutdown programme on all office computers. The £30-40k saving from these changes will be ploughed back into staff incentives for low-carbon behaviour, helping to make the company’s carbon reduction activities self-funding.

Measuring success

Thanks to the code built into the widget, first direct were able to measure the success of their initiative by tracking the signups that came through their site. But McCreadie only realised how strong the take-up had been when he was browsing the latest signups on the 10:10 website and found that he recognised most of the names. In just two weeks, more than 500 employees had joined the campaign, with more signing  up every day. Moving foward, first direct are keeping up the momentum by tying their employee engagement in with our monthly themes. These focus on different areas of  personal emissions using themed guides, giveaways and case studies to help individuals on their way to 10%.

This kind of outreach work is where 10:10 really comes into its own – encouraging everyone to cooperate and bringing new people on board. As McCreadie puts it, “there’s a lot more to 10:10 than just reducing emissions – it’s about celebrating success.”

What they said: first direct employees’ thoughts on 10:10

“The 10:10 site has prompted me to check whether I need cavity wall insulation and am arranging this for my house in the next few weeks.”
- Kate Sandham

“I think that the 10:10 campaign makes reducing our impact on the environment feel achievable. It gives sensible suggestions on ways to reduce our carbon footprint easily. This means that less people will be put off by what could seem to be an impossible task. Personally I am concentrating on insulating my house more, starting with the loft and reducing the amount I use my car by 5 miles a week. I have been walking to the supermarket when we only require a few items and not taking the car.”
- Carolyn Stuart

“10:10 makes me think of my family and future generations, and what I can do to help them.”
- Amy Garbett

“At home I have installed compost bins, reduced the speed I drive my car and now only buy seasonal food from local markets.”
- Cameron Thompson