Workforce for Good: Employee Engagement in Sustainability/CSR – Incorporate Sustainability into Business Process

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Workforce for Good: Employee Engagement in Sustainability/CSR – Incorporate Sustainability into Business Process

Workforce for Good Blog Series Part 6
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 9:55am

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.

Principle 6 of Workforce for Good: Incorporate Sustainability into Business Process

When sustainability was seen as a core value driver for their business, the companies in our sample figuratively put the stake in the ground: “We are committed to sustainability, not just because it is good for the environment, but because it is fundamentally good for our business.”

“There’s a reason . . . it is part of our business. Sustainability and energy savings maybe five or six years ago was an interesting side note, when a lot of people were wondering, ‘Well, I wonder where the heck this is going to go?’ Where it’s gone is right to the core of real estate. Buildings use far more energy than any other segment of our society . . .  So, buildings are a place where we can have an immense impact, and what our clients are realizing is that it’s really good business.

If you can run a building much more efficiently from an energy standpoint, you can come out ahead financially. But what’s happening now is more and more tenants are saying to us, ‘We’d like to be in your building; how green are you?’ And the clients are saying to us, ‘So how green am I? I think you need to make me greener.’ . . . So we’ve actually decided that we will be the greenest commercial real estate company there is, in a measurable way. We’ve been on a five year program, and today we now have more LEED accredited professionals than any company in the world.
-Bob Best, Jones Lang LaSalle

What does it mean for sustainability/CSR to be incorporated into the business? You know it when you see it in the daily operations; in the products and services they offer; in employees’ evaluation metrics; and when it is linked to profitability, performance, and innovation of the company. It is central to the business and becomes the lens through which business is done. In that respect, it is no different than implementing quality initiatives or continuous improvement; it gets embedded in operations.

Rob Hendrickson from Frito-Lay North America continually references the company’s commitment to excellence in people and in the process. Continuous improvement is a sustainability best practice. At Frito-Lay, they have learned that it is critical to bring the mechanics into the conversation at the start of process improvement. It is far less costly to involve them at the start of the process in order to avoid lost time, money, and energy as opposed to retrofitting, uninstalling, fixing, and/or rebuilding after the fact. Members of the company evaluate what the total impact of a change will be, and what the cascading effects will be on other elements within the system. This was echoed by all of the engineers we spoke with: sustainability implementation as continuous improvement.

Next Week:  Principle 7 of Workforce for Good: Use Multiple Channels of Communication

For more information or to download the full whitepaper click here