Workforce for Good: Employee Engagement in Sustainability/CSR – Conclusions

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Workforce for Good: Employee Engagement in Sustainability/CSR – Conclusions

Workforce for Good Blog Series Conclusion
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Conclusion of the #workforceforgood series Defining project in Employee Engagement in #Sustainability/#CSR

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - 9:15am


Employee engagement is one of the toughest and often most perplexing elements of sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts.  Two leading Midwest sustainability/CSR experts, Matthew Rochte and Jocelyn Azada, set out to find just what were companies doing to successfully engage employees in sustainability/CSR.  They share their findings in the whitepaper Workforce for Good™ and in this 3BLmedia series on employee engagement.


We set out to identify the current best practices in employee engagement in sustainability/CSR as applied at a variety of Fortune level companies in the Midwest. In our interviews, we found that the most successful employee engagement efforts include a diversity of methods to educate and engage employees. By making connections to employees’ personal interests and passions, the companies could solicit the support of those on the front lines and empower people to act sustainably. Using strong, visible support from executive leadership, the companies could employ their CSR efforts from the top down. Another important tactic involved utilizing direct management that takes a proactive role in managing employees to meet sustainability/CSR goals. In addition, it was critical for each company to align their practices with company culture, to offer consistent communication and varied ways to deliver that communication, and develop accurate tracking and measurement for sustainability/CSR results. Finally, providing recognition to employees for their accomplishments helped show them that their efforts are valued and are a critical part of corporate success.

When all of these principles were present, they formed the basis of a focused, forward-thinking, corporate environment that clearly understands and realizes the business case for sustainability/CSR: attracting and retaining talent; reducing environmental footprint and costs; innovating products and services; and enhancing reputation and goodwill with all stakeholders.

There’s nothing new here, and yet, it’s all new again. Management gurus from Deming to Peters to Senge to Collins address this core issue of people management as the key to success. It’s about the people. Employees are integral to delivering on the brand promise of their companies. As public expectations are increasingly adding social and environmental values to the mix of how companies should behave, employee engagement in sustainability/CSR plays a critical role in company competitiveness, reputation, innovation and execution. When employees are engaged in sustainability and CSR, it shapes their thinking and their behavior, enabling their companies to come up with new ways to solve current business problems and create new opportunities.

Extra Material available in the full whitepaper Workforce for Good: Employee Engagement in Sustainability/CSR available for free download here including:

• Cautionary Tales from Leaders – stories of lessons learned and things that didn’t work

o   Loop in key players and potential players before implementing.

o   Let local leaders lead.

o   Pace yourself and celebrate small wins.

o   Avoid too much communication.

• Definitions of Employee Engagement

• Further Suggested Reading