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Improve Employee Engagement and Retention Through Sustainability Practices
– Here’s a sobering statistic. Worldwide, fewer than one in three employees are actively engaged in their work. Worse, nearly one in five are actually disengaged. That’s a lot of compromised productivity, unfulfilled human potential, and lost profit. A report from Gallup has shown that engaged organizations have growth of 3.9 times earnings per share as compared to organizations with lower employee engagement in the same industry.
Research shows an engaged employee has a strong emotional commitment to the company and its goals. Engagement drives employees to invest discretionary effort in their work. All of us know engaged employees when we see them. Whether they work for an airline, a retail store, an accounting firm, or any other organization. They’re the ones who provide great service because they love what they do, believe in their company’s products and services, and feel proud to work there.
Regardless of their staff level or job description, engaged employees have a greater tendency to be: highly productive, strong brand ambassadors, top revenue generators, and drivers of innovation. Around 40% of U.S. companies now have programs to engage employees on sustainability initiatives. They’ve discovered that when their employees are involved in the company’s environmental and social achievements, it results in very specific business benefits, including: increased workforce satisfaction and retention; attracting millennials, who overwhelmingly prefer working for green companies; minimizing waste and unnecessary resource consumption from transportation, energy, water, supply chain, packaging, et cetera; mitigating operational and reputational risks; rates of sick days and absenteeism are reduced; and other benefits.
There are several ways you can get started on beginning to build a strong employee engagement program with sustainability as a key driver. Share your company’s environmental commitments up front in your employee recruiting material and on your corporate web site. Remember that, given the choice, most people want to work at a company with a strong sustainability commitment. Add sustainability information into your company’s training program, including onboarding for new employees. Include participating in environmental initiatives as a way to earn rewards and recognition within the company.
Build opportunities for staff to personally lead environmental initiatives into career leadership development programs. Include environmental goals in performance objectives, performance appraisals, and compensation decisions. Three examples of sustainability-focused employee engagement include green teams. These are groups of employee volunteers that work together to improve the environment at work and the local community. Mostly these groups focus on greening the work environment.
However, increasingly these groups are taking on bigger responsibilities, and green teams are becoming a valued part of many companies. Skills-based volunteering. The concept behind skills-based volunteering is to match the employee’s skill set and development needs to a volunteer opportunity. IBM has been a world leader in this category. Personal sustainability plans. Walmart, the world’s largest company, with more than 2,000,000 employees, offers each employee the opportunity to develop their own goals in a personal sustainability plan.
Its global program, My Sustainability Plan, allows every associate to choose their own sustainability goals and track their progress. Whatever you choose to do, make sure the program information can be accessible to all employees you hope to engage. For many companies, the inclusion of web and mobile access is key to widespread adoption. Tie your employee engagement strategy to your key corporate sustainability goals. Make sure that the content and programs are updated regularly and are targeted to keep engagement high and relevant.
And, have metrics in place to showcase the return that these initiatives are making. Engaging employees in sustainability is a fast-growing trend with significant business benefits. Not only will the employees who get involved help others and the environment, they’ll provide benefits to the bottom line.