Connection in Employee Sustainability Engagement
Note: This is the third installment in a five-part series on engaging employees around sustainability. The first part introduced the four stages of employee engagement; the second part discussed raising employee awareness about sustainability; the third part discussed connecting to the company’s vision and strategy; the fourth part discussed how connection leads to commitment; while the fifth part discusses learning the secrets of measuring employee sustainability engagement.
This post focuses on the second stage in employee engagement, Connection, and will feature examples of companies that have successfully reached this stage. A connection is going beyond just presenting information which is the first stage of employee engagement. Here you are actually promoting employee interaction and a sense of belonging among employees.
Doing this helps your employees make the home-work connection. It also establishes and supports their perception of having a work-life balance. This enables them to share their best practices with their peers and beyond.
Sustainability Engagement Methods Are Varied
Companies employ many different methods to help their employees make the connection between sustainability and business. You have to understand your organization’s culture first.
It’s then a matter of designing a program that embraces your culture and allows interaction and sharing of information across business functions and locations. When this happens, employees truly understand and a connection occurs that takes into account the truly tangible and intangible facets of your business.
Understanding Employee Sustainability Engagement
Let’s examine how four different companies, Ingersoll Rand, Energizer, Altria, and Fairmount Santrol have embraced employee sustainability engagement.
Ingersoll Rand Has Green Teams
A core business practice at Ingersoll Rand, employee sustainability engagement takes the form of green teams. These were launched in 2011 by the company’s Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability (CEES). The Green Team program provides structure, definition, and accountability based upon key company sustainability milestones.
Green Team members, who are employee volunteers, work to reduce the company’s environmental footprint and complete community service projects. To provide them with more resources and learning opportunities, Ingersoll Rand began quarterly webcasts to share ideas and best practices.
Ingersoll Rand estimates it has reaped millions in savings as a direct result of Green Team projects. This program is a perfect example of promoting employee interaction and a sense of belonging among employees while helping them connect business and sustainability.
Treasure Hunts Engage Energizer Employees
Energizer, the battery manufacturer, has a fun and interesting way to engage employees about sustainability. They engage their employees using energy treasure hunts. These hands-on learning events have resulted in more than 2,000 sustainability opportunities. The potential cost savings of millions.
Energizer assembles diverse teams in both seniority and business function. Those teams try to find ways to reduce facilities’ energy consumption and cost. They do this through the use of both historical information and inspections.
Because their teams possess a broad depth of expertise, it helps them identify ways to reduce consumption that might not be obvious. This gives employees the opportunity to engage with each other. They are free to share ideas and best practices with each other. These treasure hunts help employees connect, not only business and sustainability but also with each other.
Altria Group Used an Innovation Fair
Altria Group, the parent of tobacco company Philip Morris USA, sponsored an innovation fair to showcase new technologies and processes that had improved its business. These include reducing costs throughout its supply chain.
Prominently on display were energy-management technologies, waste-reduction processes and sustainable packaging, such as eco-friendly, biodegradable materials which the company has adopted. Employees saw how important sustainability and cost management are in enhancing their company’s core business. Employee feedback was positive and the fair helped employees take pride in their company’s positive sustainability actions.
Sustainability is Embedded in Fairmount Santrols Culture
Fairmount Santrol, an Ohio-based energy, industrial, and recreation company, has successfully embedded sustainability into its business operations and company culture. Thus, creating a strong sense of belonging within its workforce. Employees are called “family members,” ensuring that everyone knows they are a valued part of the organization. Fairmount Santrol’s wellness program also includes employees’ family members, which creates a stronger work-home connection and supports work-life balance.
The company’s Sustainable Development Teams are composed of volunteers responsible for setting annual team goals. The team goals are directly tied to the overall mission and vision of the company. Progress toward these team goals is publicly reported every year in the company’s social responsibility report.
Achieving these goals not only benefits the company’s operations and bottom line performance. They also give its teams a sense of pride and contribution to Fairmount Santrols’ success and sustainability. The company also does plenty of outreach to its employees.
The company holds open houses at its sites and “family members” visit community organizations and schools to educate community members, not only about the company but about the importance of sustainability. All this helps connect their employees to the business, sustainability and community well-being.
Employers Encourage Employee Action
Another major employer encouraged employees to take individual action to protect the environment and give back to the community. Using email and the intranet, as well as social media, the company encourages employees to commit to completing acts that help preserve and protect the environment. And to do this not only at work but also at home and elsewhere in their daily lives.
Employees are Engaged and Empowered
Using the company’s employee engagement platform and orientation program, the environment is featured at every turn. From news articles to banner advertisements, employees understand the importance of preserving the environment and how it will positively affect the company.
The company encourages employees to discuss their ideas, activities, and experiences on social media platforms and to join a network of employees aiming to go green. These activities enable employees to work together to help the company reach its environmental goals. The activities also promote a sense of belonging and pride and help employees make the connection between business and sustainability.
Calculate Your Carbon Footprint
If you would like to calculate your Carbon Footprint, follow the link to the free carbon footprint calculator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.