Employee engagement is a powerful tool for integrating environmental thinking into company operations. With our ongoing work at GreenBiz.com's Engaging Employees / Green Teams microsite, we're providing case studies, CEO perspectives, and practical advice for leveraging a company's most critical asset -- their employees.
But how do you know when your efforts are working? We decided to ask the 3,000+ members of the GreenBiz Intelligence Panel (you can sign up to join the panel here) how they could tell their efforts were paying off. We received responses from 236 panel members who shared their company's perspective on employee surveys. They let us know if they included questions about sustainability and, perhaps most importantly, what they've learned in the process.
Ask and Ye Shall Receive
We asked our panel members whether or not their company conducted employee surveys and more specifically whether those surveys included questions about the company's sustainability initiatives. While 69 percent of the companies participating in our survey have revenues greater than $1 billion, there was very little difference in the responses between large and small companies.
It's hard to decide if it's surprising that 29 percent of our survey respondents did not survey their own employees on a regular basis. Employee surveys done poorly can come off as intrusive and with no obvious follow-on activity their usefulness can be seen as demoralizing rather than energizing.
That said, 50 percent of our respondents are asking about sustainability either as part of a more comprehensive employee survey or in a dedicated sustainability survey. As a potential indicator of the seriousness with which they view these surveys, 44 percent of those who conduct employee surveys use an outside firm while 52 percent use an on-line tool (4 percent didn't know).
Hot Topics and Lessons Learned
We asked our panel members to tell us the top two or three things they've learned from conducting employee surveys. The number-one item is the level of awareness by their employees when it comes to the company's sustainability efforts. As one panel member noted, "We survey them on our level of commitment and their level of awareness of our sustainability programs."