Lessons from Wells Fargo's green team program

Van Tassel highlighted three ways to start the conversation with employees or groups that do not immediately recognize the value of employee engagement programs. She starts by emphasizing the benefits, noting that employees engaged in sustainability and community projects contribute to business objectives in the following ways:

Community development: Employee engagement activities get the company’s name and ideals out in to the community. People see that beyond being a bank or corporation that does X and gives money to good causes, the company also gives time and energy to invest in the communities where they operate.

Leadership development: Employee engagement activities allow people to take on new roles. Employees try out leadership roles and discover hidden talents when charged with new and different tasks. They expand their skill sets and can then apply these new qualifications to their work.

Operational efficiency: As listed below in some of the specific projects Van Tassel highlights, employee engagement activities can include projects that help companies understand where they can save in terms of the waste, water, paper, and energy the organization uses in its daily operations.

This all shows people the value employee engagement programs can bring. Once they understand their benefits, Van Tassel has had great success getting managers engaged and supportive of green teams. It also helps that at Wells Fargo environmental stewardship is a company-wide goal. Looking at specific green team projects shows that they have the support of their local offices and the company overall.

Green team examples

Employees on the Vancouver green team were interested in reducing the waste produced in their corporate office building. They completed a trash audit and realized the majority of office waste was being recycled, but that it was still company protocol to empty trashcans at each cubicle every day. This meant the janitorial staff was throwing out a pile of empty trashcan liners each day.

Next page: Lessons learned by green teams