How to move your employees from sustainability awareness to living a sustainable experience How to move your employees from sustainability awareness to living a sustainable experience
Defining the sustainability experience
Over the past three decades, sustainability has moved from a “nice to have” to a strategic imperative, but few companies have evolved their approach to engaging employees on the topic. As corporate sustainability goals become increasingly ambitious, one team’s dedication will not suffice.
Success will require every employee—from the boardroom to the back office—recognizing their direct or indirect impact on sustainability performance and culture. Sustainability Experience helps to bridge the gap between an organization’s sustainability commitment at the 60,000 ft. view and one leaky faucet on the plant floor or a cross-country business trip turned into a video conference.
It makes sustainability feel more tangible and actionable. It makes sustainability everyone’s job.
Defining the Sustainability Experience
We define Sustainability Experience as an opportunity for employees to explore, first-hand, what sustainability means to their company and to themselves, actively managing the sustainability metrics most relevant to their business function, identifying opportunities to improve performance and contributing to a culture of sustainability.
Establishing this connection helps employees to develop a sense of ownership over their organization’s sustainability vision and work to improve their sustainability culture accordingly.
Leveraging Sustainability to Improve Employee Engagement
Yet many, if not most, organizations struggle to adequately address the issue. Research from Deloitte shows that organizations’ ability to address the issues of engagement and culture dropped by 14 percent between 2016 and 2017.
Fortunately, employee engagement on sustainability may be the answer. Numerous studies have found that employee participation in societal causes or in activities that help others increases engagement and performance. Additionally, 88% of millennial employees report being more fulfilled at work when provided with a chance to have a positive impact on social and environmental issues.
How to Build a Sustainability Experience Program
Define Your Purpose: Purpose is an articulation of your business’ role in society and the impact you aim to have. A well-articulated sustainability purpose, with corresponding goals and targets, is the foundation upon which the following steps are built.
Help Employees to Understand Their Sustainability Impact: Enable employees to experience their specific sustainability impact by facilitating team discussions on how each employee contributes to your organization’s overarching sustainability goals.
Measure Progress and Reward Accordingly: Where applicable, add the most relevant sustainability metrics to each department or staff members’ Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and evaluate their performance during your annual review process.
Incentivize Sustainability Innovation: Encourage employees to identify new products or processes that support your organization’s sustainability performance by creating worthwhile incentives.
Share Best Practices and Experiences: Encourage employees to create a shared Sustainability Experience by celebrating successes and wins, exchanging best practices and stories.
Facilitate Meaningful Volunteering: Leverage long-term and skills-based volunteering to deepen community ties and engage employees with social and environmental sustainability issues they might not otherwise encounter on a day-to-day basis.
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