Employee engagement is a hot topic in business -- a kind of Holy Grail for sustainability professionals, who know you can't get an initiative off the ground if you don't have buy-in from all levels of an organization.
It's an issue that has also been a focus for the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF). For the last two years, NEEF has explored how members of its Business Sustainability Education Roundtable -- companies like Baxter, Kimberly-Clark and eBay -- are successfully engaging their workers. Those lessons and processes are documented in a comprehensive report released today by NEEF, in partnership with GreenBiz Group.
"Our previous work at NEEF has revealed that engaging employees on sustainability initiatives improves a business' bottom line and helps it to reach sustainability goals," said Krista Badiane, NEEF's business and environment program manager. "We've also seen that many companies are still working to incorporate environmental and sustainability vision, goals and strategies into the culture despite its value. So this report really addresses these challenges by examining how leading companies are moving toward Engagement 2.0."
During a webinar for NEEF members on Friday, Badiane described how environment and sustainability employee engagement has evolved into a more institutionalized component of corporate sustainability strategies.
Goals have crystallized to become better connected to sustainability strategies while the focus has shifted from green practices, such as launching a recycling program, to innovation in products, services and operations. Motivations have morphed from personal passion into organizational incentives, such as performance reviews, and potentially even a part of employees' career paths. Companies are also now taking steps to measure how well their environment and sustainability programs are paying off.
In other words, employee engagement has grown up.
So what does the path look like? NEEF organized the process into a model that illustrates each step of the journey, along with real-life examples.