I'm starting to think green teams are going the way of green marketing -- they are over.
Over in the sense that stand alone, grassroots, voluntary, bottoms-up efforts have matured into employee engagement efforts that are connected to bigger enterprise goals, initiated and supported by senior executives and business relevant. Side-by-side with engaging stakeholders and suppliers in sustainability, more and more companies are engaging employees.
In recent weeks, I've seen a number of new employee engagement trends I see emerging from leading companies working to integrate their sustainability strategies deeper into day-to-day business practices. Some of the firms that have been showcasing these best practices are Bloomberg, eBay, EMC, Genentech and Ingersoll Rand.
What is a 3.0 Green Team?
Green Teams have traditionally been defined as a grassroots, voluntary effort self-organized by employees to educate and empower fellow employees around sustainability, usually with an internal, operational focus.
Green Teams 3.0 look slightly different, characterized by the following:
- Senior executive sponsorship
- Link to corporate goals
- Some overall structure and direction
- Consistent brand and message
- Programs not always voluntary
The different shades of green teams range from grassroots to linking to corporate goals to strategic.
Emerging Trends and Best Practices
In late 2009 Green Impact and GreenBiz.com published a white paper highlighting10 Best Practices for Building Green Teams. After a series of new interviews, a number of new trends have emerged. Take a look below for some ideas of how to join the age of employee engagement 3.0.
Senior Executive Sponsorship
While green teams are a bottom-up approach, it is also important to have top-down support.
At Bloomberg, the employee engagement program is a Chairman initiative, launched at the request of the chairman Peter Grauer. "The BGreen engagement program was Peter's challenge to us after a year of the sustainability program. He wanted us to ramp up the education and engagement," explained Lee Ballin, Sustainability Manager at Bloomberg.
The BGreen engagement program focuses on issues where employees can make a difference, such as recycling, waste reduction, paper use, food and transportation, using a suite of techniques, such as blog posts, lunch and learn events, guest speakers, contests and new employee orientation.
At Ingersoll Rand, green teams were experiencing a lack of relevance and decided to connect to bigger picture, by reaching out to senior executives, gaining their sponsorship for the green team efforts and making their work more relevant by connecting to enterprise goals.